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02
Dec

What a Load of Rubbish!

With 2020 being the year that it is, Kendal Mountain Festival did an incredible job of adapting to change and putting together an awesome event. Being a completely virtual festival meant that anyone, from anywhere around the world could get involved! With an impressive variety of films, talks, presentations and even music, there really was something to get everyone’s juices flowing! Although the event was technically ‘Live’ at the time, everything is available to watch until December 31st- perfect for filling that weird time between Xmas and New Year! Or maybe a ticket to a talk, or a full event pass could be the perfect Christmas pressie for that outdoorsy friend or family member that you never know what to buy for!

Just some of the stars of the Palm & Pyranha Paddlesports Session about to start the river clean!

As well as all the awesome films and presentations, there were also some very cool activities taking place outside the recording studio. Earlier on in the festival, we had our pro mountain bikers (including my very awesome pal, Monet Adams) doing their bit for the ‘Trash Free Trails’ campaign, by collecting rubbish whilst out enjoying the local trails. The festival then finished off with the annual ‘Paddle Pickup’. Obviously, things had to be a bit different this time around, so instead of a mass gathering on the River Kent, the aim was to encourage paddlers all over the country (and the world!) to get involved on their own local river!

Bekki of Into the Outside and KMF helped us out too!

A small number of paddlers involved with KMF (including myself) took to the River Kent, armed with our litter grabbers! Within only a mile-long stretch of the river, we found enough rubbish along the river banks and in the river itself, to fill a 6-person raft, a canoe, and our kayaks!

As well as loads of drinks bottles, cans, and plastic bags, we also found a surprising amount of shoes, clothes, and old toys, plus a total of 51 golf balls!

Just some of the 51 golf balls removed from the river... and an Elf!

Although it couldn’t be the big Paddle Pickup event it normally is, the message was still clear. We have a responsibility to look after our amazing outdoors and give back to the environments that have given us so much. We gain an amazing amount from being outside, so let’s make protecting it a priority.

Thanks to Hoops of WRS for lending a raft and a hand with his family!

Wherever you are, whatever you’re in to, please please please start doing your bit. If we can all do just do one small thing, we can make a huge change. Maybe once a month, whether you’re on the river, on your bike or even out walking the dog, fill a bag with litter to throw away and recycle.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming thinking about how to make a difference when the overall problem is dauntingly massive, but together we can do awesome things!

Just some of the rubbish removed from the River Kent, including a shopping trolley, a tyre, and a traffic cone.

Thank you to all those doing their bit in their local area, as well as everyone that was involved in the Palm and Pyranha Paddle Pickup. Also, a big thank you to the guys at Kendal Mountain Festival for putting on an awesome event and for supporting such great causes!

Chris Brain found a car key in the river!

It was amazing to be involved in the Paddle Pick Up! I’ve often wondered what I can do to look after the places I go to paddle, as I’ve regularly seen litter on the bank and in the river, but the scale of the challenge can seem pretty daunting. I realise now that just doing a little bit and picking up just one thing and taking it away for proper disposal or recycling can make a real difference. I’m going to make it my mission from now on to have a little bag with me any time I am on the river or out exploring on foot and to pick up at least one thing. Whilst it might not feel like it makes much of a difference at the time, if all of us do a little something on the rivers and trails that we regularly go to it will really add up and we can have a positive impact on these places.

Chris Brain, Pyranha and Palm Team Paddler

Make sure to post your Paddle Pickup photos and use these hashtags:

#PaddlePickup #KendalLitterPick20 #TrashOff

Although we would have LOVED to all be together this year on the River Kent paddle pick up, it’s been so wonderful to see all the participation from around the UK, and indeed the globe, for this year’s Kendal Litter Pick. Cleaning up our natural world is one of the simplest and most rewarding things we can do to give back to the places we play, and often time leads to a feeling of empowerment for people to further stand up against the destruction of our playgrounds. Huge thank you to everyone who gave a few minutes or a few hours of their time on Saturday to leave our trails, streets, beaches, canals, and rivers a better place!

Cal Major, Palm Team Paddler

You can check out my interview at the Kendal Mountain Festival, as well as the Palm & Pyranha Paddlesports session, on the links below:

Sal Montgomery Live Interview

Palm & Pyranha Paddlesports Session

Sal
www.instagram.com/sal.montgomery
www.facebook.com/salmontgomery2020

15
Oct

Please act now and help #SaveOutdoorEd

Many of you reading this will need no convincing as to the importance of Outdoor Education, and to those people, we’d ask that you head straight to signing this petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/330559 and consider sharing it amongst your networks.

For those who have come to paddlesports via a different path (or indeed, anyone reading this who hasn’t had any involvement in paddlesports or the outdoors so far in their life) and may not appreciate how friendships, careers, and physical and mental wellbeing for so many have been built on the foundations laid by Outdoor Education, allow us to share some perspectives with you:

“Outdoor Education is fundamentally embedded in the curriculum at Bolton School, with pupils taking part in outdoor adventurous residentials in almost every year group from junior school up to sixth form. Pupils attend our residential centre, Patterdale Hall, to develop character traits such as intellectual curiosity, determination, self-discipline, and leadership skills to name but a few, but in doing so they may also develop a passion for adventure and adventure sports, such as climbing or kayaking, where once back in school they can develop these skills and take part in trips here in the UK or overseas, such as our whitewater kayaking trips to the Alps, sea kayaking expeditions in Norway, and sport climbing adventures in Spain.”

Steven Bradley, Head of Outdoor Learning, Bolton School

“Through my own school career, I was lucky enough to visit Snowdonia a number of times for outdoor and adventurous activities. It was on those trips that I found my love of the outdoors and wild places. As I spent more time in them and gained qualifications that let me take others in them, I started to see the frayed edges. The litter accumulating on busy summits, the rivers threatened by dams, and the changing use of landscapes in our national parks. To truly protect somewhere, we must first experience it and value it. That starts with children, and it starts with outdoor education.”

Tom Laws, Trash Free Trails & Save Our Rivers

“Despite attending several training camps, I was never any good at football. I tried cricket, rugby, swimming, and tennis, and none of those stuck either; most of my weekends were spent exploring the forest with my friends, and when I realised there were sports like canoeing, kayaking, and orienteering to be done in those environments, I knew right away what I’d been missing! I owe that discovery to the school teachers who arranged outdoor residential trips so we could travel further afield and discover the beautiful outdoor environments the UK and the world have to offer. Outdoor recreation is my exercise, it’s how I socialise with friends and make new ones, and it’s what my career is built upon – I genuinely don’t know what I’d do without it.”

Mathew Wilkinson, Marketing Manager, Pyranha Kayaks

“Learning through an outdoor experience allows children with social and emotional barriers to classroom tasks to grow in confidence and achieve in an environment where they can succeed.”

Ian Sheldrake, Teacher & Owner of Venture-Out

Please lend your voice to help ensure future generations still have the opportunity to get into the outdoors: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/330559

12
Oct

The Box: The Heart of the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River

When I close my eyes and think back on the time I spent in The Box this summer, I can’t help but smile. I can still feel the butterflies and fire rooted within as I commit to the first big rapid of the trip. I can hear the water pick up as it forces its way naturally through the boulders evaporating into the air as it crests over the surface. I can feel the warmth of the sunshine on my face as I take a ‘Leap of Faith.’ This is a trip I’ll never forget.

I spent the previous weekend paddling the Honeymoon and Day stretches of the Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River and particularly liked its unforgiving, rugged, and voluminous character. Continuing downstream, the river cuts through the third deepest canyon in the lower forty-eight known as The Box. The committing and undercut nature of the river and its features adds a consequential quality to the run, you don’t want to miss an eddy above one of the mandatory portages. 

Our crew – Ford, Quinton, Ben, and I make our way into the first canyon, the first portage is coming up. It’s a mile long, but the only portage without a required climb over fairly large boulders. Back on the river, we enjoy a few miles of calm river while Quinton catches trouts! 

As we enter the second canyon, the walls grow, forming a formidable marble-like hallway. We make our way through a few miles of long boulder gardens and sweet boofs until we arrive at our second portage, ‘Ankle Breaker.’ This rapid was a sight to behold, a huge broken-up, steep boulder garden linked together by waterfalls plummeting into sieves. Hands down the toughest portage!

We run into friends, Frank and Travis at camp that night and decide to join forces! The next morning, we set off into the heart of the canyon. The first rapid we scout is ‘Balls to the Wall’. The current builds as the river steepens and all the flow parallels a massive canyon wall. Ideally, you want to be close to the wall, but not too close, as you fly into a narrow slot at the bottom backed up by a huge hole sending you into a moving eddy flowing into the next rapid.

This is where it really turned on for me. Once I committed to this rapid, I was so fired up and ready to paddle – I hit myself in the face with my paddle, bruised and bloody nose for the win!

My plan going into the trip was to have as much fun as safely as possible with my friends, taking on one rapid at a time and not making my mind up based on what I heard, but how I felt when I looked at each of the significant rapids for the first time.

I was grateful we had some extra water on our descent, padding out many of the larger moves and filling in some of the sieves. 

It’s hard to choose a favorite, but for me, it was probably ‘Dillworth.’ The rapid begins with a lead in directing its flow into a house-sized pour-over, landing to the right of center is preferred to avoid a sieve, then continue boofing and charging your way downstream. Flying off that boof was a highlight of my trip for sure!

Like any grand adventure, our group had some unexpected things happen, several paddles were broken, lost, and dropped. When we arrived at the last portage, ‘Last Sunshine,’ we were one paddle short and had no breakdowns left. We are above one of the two mandatory rapids of the run. Quinton offered to ferry across the river, scale a cliff with his kayak, and then rappel back down to river level below the portage. Then he decided to hand paddle the rest of the way to the takeout. Thankful he was so willing to billy goat and absolutely crushed it!

We rolled into the takeout STOKED! The canyon blew my mind by the hour, but what truly amazed me is how we all complimented each other so well out there and lifted one another up. I didn’t know everyone in our group, but by the end of the trip, I felt I’d made some awesome new friends and look forward to paddling with these guys again. 

This run only goes for maybe two weeks at optimal flows in July. Next year, I’d like to do a two-day and one-day descent in the same week, hopefully, less sore coming out of the first trip!

We’re all motivated and inspired by different things, but what makes it so special is that whatever the reason, on this weekend and in this moment, we’re linked together and unified by this one thing – this remote place, a shared passion, and pushing ourselves in this way. That’s a special bond.

Life gets messy. Things don’t always work out the way we’d hoped, we experience fear and unknowns, but the river puts things in perspective. It shows me in a very clear and undiluted form who I am. I want to be vulnerable in life, I want to be in places and situations that scare me and push me closer to the things I love. When I’m on the river, I’m vulnerable. I’m surrounded by beauty, moment by moment the experience exposes my humanness and I feel alive. The time I spend on the river gives me time to learn about something that’s much greater than me.

We all have different reasons for doing this. While paddling The Box may or may not be your journey, I think we can agree we can all benefit by stepping outside of what’s familiar and comfortable just a bit. For me, a trip like this gives me a little peek of doing so. How you choose to give life to your dreams and spend your future, is entirely up to you.

#shegoes

Photo credit: Quinton Barnett, Ben Litz, and Travis Winn

08
Oct

The Wellerbrücke in the Ozone.

I should first say that while I have a lot of love for the Ozone, it is not the best choice for this style of water and I can only recommend using a bigger kayak such as the Ripper, Machno, or 9R II on this style of river.

The Wellerbrücke is fast, steep, and chock-full of places you don’t want to end up. If I’m honest, there’s not very much to taking the Ozone down the Wellerbrücke that makes sense!

Ultimately it was a culmination of all of the time spent on this river, wanting to get out of my comfort zone on it again, and to finally hit some of the tricks that I haven’t quite been able to pull around in the bigger kayaks I normally use.

The first few rapids have some holes on them and I had to make sure I landed my tricks cleanly to keep my speed and stay out of trouble.

A few times, tricks worked straight away.

Other times, it took a few attempts…

A few times, I just focused on getting down upright.

The river picks up pace the entire way down, and the entry rapid to the Wellerbridge marked the rowdiest rapid to run in the Ozone. I had to work hard to hit the line on this one and I was stoked to hit the final move and be in the eddy.

I had seen this rock a few times on previous laps and I thought it would be a great place for a Tomahwak; like a cobra flip, but sideways and using the rock. The water dropped and revealed a rock in the landing, though fortunately, it looked like I would have enough speed to clear it… possibly, maybe, sort of.

I wussed out of the trick twice for fear of landing upside down on the rock, breaking something, and far worse not being able to kayak for a few weeks.

I knew it would be a tight landing, but I felt like I could do it. I switched the annoying part of the brain that is full of “what ifs” and hesitations and sent it.

Happily, it worked perfectly, I landed the trick, and only just tapped the rock with the tail of my kayak.

The bridge rapid went surprisingly well, and I dropped into the race course. My goal here was to go top to bottom as clean as possible and then freewheel into Champions Killer.

That worked great the first time, the second time I did it I got stuck in Champions Killer, but threw some cartwheels and surfed, the third time, let’s just say it had been a long day…

You know that quote from the climber about why he wanted to climb the mountain and he said, “…because it’s there”? Same deal here. The Wellerbrücke is just down the road, and I have an Ozone. With that being said, I am back in my Large Ripper and saving my Ozone for chiller sections of river in the sun.

Catch you on the water,
Bren

Photos by Mathias Pfutzner

09
Sep

3 Glorious Years of Ripping it Up

October this year (2020) will mark 3 years since the first Ripper left the mould; we guess it’s true what they say about time flying when you’re having fun!

To mark the occasion, we decided to catch up with Bren Orton to find out what impact it’s had on his paddling:

Hey Bren,

Great to catch up with you. First up, tell us how long you’ve been using the Ripper

Right from the first prototype to production, and ever since!

📷: Adrian Mattern

What were your first impressions?

It was love at first sight. Enough rocker to climb up over big holes, a sporty tail for fun on prime eddy lines, and a planning hull for when you find an inviting river wave. I had high expectations of the Ripper, and it has exceeded all of them.

Where have you paddled it so far?

Honestly, almost everywhere. From the Little White to the Tryweryn and everything in-between, including a multi-day descent down the Kynchi River in India. Admittedly, a Machno would have been more practical, but for that style of river the Ripper is just magic!

📷: Dane Jackson

Do you use one particular size, or switch between them? Why?

I have used all of them and I switch in-between them based on what sort of river I am on. My go-to is the Large for the style and power of rivers I like to use it on; the extra width in the knees and overall volume helps me to have clean lines down the rapids, and yet I can still get it vertical pretty easily. I remember first trying the Ripper Large and being shocked I could still whip it up to vert every time I wanted to. For reference, I am 72kg, relatively strong, and sort of okay at kayaking…

📷: John Haines

How does it fit into your quiver? What sort of percentage/range of your paddling do you use it for?

Starting out, it was the kayak I reached for on easier sections, but as I spent more time in the Ripper, I figured out how to get the most out of the design and develop my own style with the kayak. I now feel really comfortable taking it out on bigger and pushier water. Honestly, the Ripper is now my everyday kayak. The Machno or 9R II only come out on really big days!

📷: Adrian Mattern

Is there anywhere you paddled it and wished you were in a creeker/playboat?

There are days where I want more of a challenge or to be able to work the nose around more, and that’s when I get into the Ozone; great fun, and good training for using the Ripper on harder water!

How do you feel about the Ripper’s 9ft length? Too long, too short, or just right?

Big fan. Any time I give up freestyle potential, I want it made up for with speed. The Ripper is SO fast and nimble down the river.  

📷: Dane Jackson

Where are you going to be using the Ripper in the next year?

Almost everywhere. It is my favourite kayak of all time; it has challenged me to become a better kayaker; it has allowed me to combine freestyle and river running and to blend the different techniques together.

What’s you favourite move to throw in it?

Kickflip. The Ripper is so bloody good for kickflips!

📷: Kalob Grady

Any top tips for paddlers looking to get the most out of the Ripper?

Just get in one. It is in my humble opinion the best kayak to enjoy the river with.

How do your impressions of the boat measure up to your initial impressions?

I knew it was going to be good, but the Ripper is better than good; it’s special. There is no other kayak that allows me to enjoy such a wide variety of rivers.

Thanks Bren!

Thanks, see you on the river!

You can see Bren tearing things up in his Ripper highlight reel, below:

24
Jul

SurfJet 2.0: Not All Sit-on-Tops are Created Equal

Easier to use than a SUP, better than bodyboarding, and more exciting than a lilo; you need a SurfJet 2.0! It’s a family fun kayak; a surf machine; a swimming platform; an all-round gateway to adventure.

Whether you’re spending some time on the coast and want to explore rockpools and ride the surf, or you’re unwinding inland and are looking for adventures on lakes and rivers, we guarantee the SurfJet 2.0 will put a smile on your face.

Not All Sit-on-Tops are Created Equal

Don’t sell your adventures short by buying a cheaply produced emulation of a tired, old design; get into the sport at the cutting edge and set yourself up for years of adventures to come, with the ability to make the most of every second of them.

The SurfJet 2.0 builds upon the respected foundations of the original SurfJet and has the momentum and experience of Pyranha’s 50+ years of performance kayak design and manufacture behind it. Founded in 1971 and independently owned and operated to this day, Pyranha are truly ‘By Enthusiasts, For Enthusiasts’, and the SurfJet 2.0 has been designed and built from start to finish in-house in Cheshire, England. We love kayaking, and we want you to as well!

Rather than taking the commonly-opted, easy-route of a flat-hulled sit-on-top, which is deceptively stable on flat water, but becomes difficult to balance and control on a wave, the SurfJet 2.0 has a semi-planing hull, allowing it to live up to its name in the surf, but also roll with the waves and keep you stable and happy when you just want to relax.

Our attention to detail goes deeper than the design; the SurfJet 2.0 is made from industry leading, ‘MZ3’ High Density Polyethylene, specifically developed for kayak production by Pyranha alongside our suppliers and tried and tested to the extreme in our market-leading range of whitewater kayaks. MZ3’s UV resistance additives and colour pigments are compounded into its structure, to further boost its longevity and keep it looking good for longer too.

Here’s All the Great Things About the SurfJet 2.0 That You Need to Know:

  • 8’9” / 267 cm long for easier transport, storage, and fun.
  • Carry-friendly weight and the option to add a stern-mounted portage wheel.
  • Designed and manufactured by Pyranha in Cheshire, England.
  • MZ3 construction: Pyranha’s proprietary, whitewater grade Super Linear HDPE.
  • UV Resistance rated to 1100 kLy (Equivalent to 12 years of exposure in the UK).
  • Made with up to 25% recycled plastic content.
  • Stackable design sized to stand vertically in the average storage unit.
  • Highly durable, moulded-in side and end handles.
  • Angled rear storage area for quick drainage and easy re-mounting from the stern.
  • Cockpit recess for bottle storage or optional pod hatch.
  • Finished with a matt texture on top and bottom for slip resistance.
  • A harmonious blend of surf performance and stability, thanks to a semi-planing hull.
  • Raised bow and tri-keel at the stern for a dry ride and directional control on a wave or when paddling across choppy water.
  • Drain bung to release internal pressure in hot weather or when travelling across significant changes in altitude.
  • Moulded-in child’s seat at the bow, facing the paddler so you can see their smiles!
  • Moulded foot and heel rests for maximum durability and to allow different sized paddlers to jump on and off without fuss.
  • Four, large cockpit drainage vents.
  • Moulded-in threaded insert for securing an action camera mount.

The SurfJet 2.0 Has a Range of Options to Suit Your Unique Adventures:

  • Surf-Zone Backstrap
  • Deluxe Padded Seat with High Backrest
  • Surf-Zone Thigh Control Straps
  • Portage Wheel
  • One-Way Drainage Vent Plugs
  • Storage Area Bungees
  • Flush Mount Rod Holder
  • Paddle Park
  • Pod Hatch

The water is waiting… order a Pyranha SurfJet 2.0 at your local dealer today!

13
Jul

Colorado Dealer Spotlight: Golden River Sports

The heart of historic downtown Golden, Colorado.

In the heart of historic downtown Golden Colorado, right on the banks of the Clear Creek Whitewater Park sits a local, full-service fly fishing shop and whitewater kayak store, run by longtime whitewater couple, Bart and Patty Pinkham. Golden River Sports was first opened in 2004 by the Hartcourt Family, and was eventually purchased by the Pinkhams in 2007. Having met at Clear Creek Whitewater Park and eventually marrying, it only seemed fitting that they cement their legacy in the local whitewater scene by taking ownership of the outfitter. Originally operating out of only half of the store they currently own, they expanded and opened “Golden River Sports Too” in the winter of 2011, giving them additional space to run their operation. Now, the original half of the shop serves as the fly fishing side, and the newer addition houses all of their whitewater products.

The storefront of Golden River Sports. Originally operating out of one half of their current compound, ‘Golden River Sports Too’ now serves as their whitewater shop.

When they began their journey into the world of whitewater kayak sales, Golden started off selling Riot Kayaks and WaveSport, eventually transitioning into selling strictly Pyranha and Dagger products. Bart contributed the majority of their success to the releases of our newer boat designs such as the Burn, Machno, 9R, and Ripper. When these designs first came out, his store was flooded with eager paddlers trying to get their hands on them. The Burn series has been flying out of the shop for years until the Machno was released, and now the new go-to boat for the locals has been the Ripper. If you want to purchase from Golden and they do not have exactly what you are looking for, they are able to place a custom order with Pyranha to have exactly what you need shipped to their shop.

The Pyranha corner of Golden River Sports.

Golden River Sports is a unique, down to earth operation that also serves as a full-service fly fishing shop. Offering locally made brands such as Ross Reels and Scott flyrods, they like to keep their roots in Colorado. A full guide service, fly tying lessons and demos all winter long in-house, and every piece of fishing gear you can think of is displayed beautifully behind the doors. Bart and Patty offer free fly tying clinics for experienced vets or rookies with no experience, half-day guided trips if you’re short on time, full day 8 hour guided trips taking you to the places you want to go, and also offer private lake fishing trips for those trying to escape the crowds and fish on private, tranquil lakes with schools of fish to catch. If you’re interested in learning more about the fishing services they offer, visit their website at www.goldenriversports.net for more information.

The fly reel showcase, consisting of local Colorado brands such as Ross Reels.

The whitewater scene on the front range in and around Golden is top-notch. Having the local whitewater park on Clear Creek within a stone’s throw away from their shop allows them to rent tubes to people who want to send it down the course, demo their kayaks to potential customers so they get the feel for exactly what they are buying, and also serves as a nice, post-work surfing session for Bart and Patty when they can find the time. Multiple sections of Clear Creek are close to town, ranging anywhere from class 3 runs to full-on, class 5 creeking. Paddlers often run the full 8 miles of Clear Creek right into town through the whitewater park. 10-mile creek is also nearby and offers a more class 4 style river for those not looking to dive into class 5 or to change up the day. Golden is also only a short drive away from Buena Vista and Steamboat Springs, where plenty of other whitewater rivers tumble down the steep mountains.

River surfer carving one of the last features of the Clear Creek Whitewater Park in the heart of downtown Golden, Colorado.

Bart and Patty Pinkham serve as a staple in the local whitewater scene in Golden and on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, catering to both the whitewater community and the world of fly fishing. Free fly tying demos, guided fishing trips, tube rentals, kayak demos, consignment deals and their racks filled with every piece of gear you would possibly need to get out on the water and stay warm and dry, Golden River Sports has what you are looking for. With two passionate and enthusiastic kayakers at the helm of this shop, they not only help you find the products that suit your needs but pass along quality information along the way. Whether it is a guide taking you fly fishing on private lakes for 8 hours a day, or simply talking kayak design with you to help you make an informed decision, there is no shortage of hospitality behind their doors. This place is truly a full-service river sports store, catering specifically to whitewater kayaking and fly fishing.

Bart Pinkham, one of the owners of Golden River Sports.
Come on in and have a look around!

06
Jul

Colorado Dealer Spotlight: CKS Main Street

In 1978, an individual by the name of Jim Stolhquist founded and opened Colorado Kayak Supply in a town called Nathrop, about 10 miles south of the current location in downtown Buena Vista, Colorado. Currently owned and operated by Brad and Megan Kingman, the head buyer for the shop is Fred Morrison. We sat down with Fred to learn more about this historic Colorado location and just how they progressed to get to where they are now.

Fred Morrison, Head Buyer at CKS Main Street.

When Colorado Kayak Supply first came into the whitewater scene, they were selling CKS brand gear, and even making their own fiberglass boats. Jim and the buying customer would lay up the boat together, and the brand name on the kayak itself was CKS. Starting off as a hardcore gear store, they mainly sold CKS PFDs, throw ropes, helmets, and other gear needed to get out on the river. Eventually, they transitioned out of making their own boats and began to import Lettman Kayaks from Germany. Throughout the years, they began to bring in kayaks from the likes of Pyranha, Dagger, Jackson, and LiquidLogic.

One thing that we easily picked up on from walking around the shop, talking to other employees, and observing the staff interacting with customers, is their passion for helping people pick the right product to match their needs. Delivering knowledge, building enthusiasm, and converting people into paddlers, CKS is truly a shop run by passionate members of the whitewater community. Carrying multiple brands of kayaks, inflatables, rafts, SUPs, and fishing gear, their staff is well versed in all disciplines of whitewater. Something that really rubs off on you by visiting this beautiful Buena Vista kayak shop is how much they enjoy sharing their love of the river with their customers.

Fred talking about the differences between several different surf boards with a customer.

CKS has a rental fleet of kayaks that consists of almost every kayak that they sell. They allow you to take your demo boat right down the street to the local Buena Vista whitewater park, a few miles away to the Numbers section of the Arkansas, or Browns Canyon. This allows you a full day in the kayak you are interested in and lets you know exactly what you will be buying. Don’t like the kayak you just took out for a demo? Come back and rent another to narrow down your choices. Some dealers may only have a small demo fleet but CKS has one that matches their stock. Renting a kayak to demo before buying can be an important part of the process; allowing you to see how you fit in a kayak for several hours, how it reacts with the water and if it matches exactly what you are looking for.

If you are in the greater Colorado area and are looking for a shop to purchase gear from, and perhaps gain a little insight on what might best fit your needs, then look no further than Colorado Kayak Supply on Main Street in Buena Vista. Knowledgable staff, diverse stock of products, and a long-standing history behind the doors, CKS is a shop run by members of the community that are eager to help you get out there and become the passionate enthusiast that you want to be. Whether its whitewater kayaking, stand up paddleboards, oar rigs, or fly fishing, every discipline of the river can be found within. Running their business by a simple slogan, “CKS is here to convert people into paddlers”, you will come in as a customer and leave a member of the whitewater community.

The storefront of CKS Main Street in Buena Vista, Colorado.
Come on in and take a look around!

29
Jun

Colorado Dealer Spotlight: 4Corners Riversports

Tucked into the Southwest desert mountains of Colorado, only miles from the infamous ‘Four Corners’ of the United States where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico come together to form a perfect intersection, 4Corners Riversports has been in business since 1983.

Opened initially as solely a whitewater shop by Father/Daughter combo Nancy and Milt Wiley, the original location is still the only location. Tony Miley, one of the managing partners, has been at the helms of the shop with his other partners since the beginning of the 2000 season, selling RPMs and Mr. Cleans.

Tony Miley, Managing Partner

The main mission of 4Corners is to supply its customers with expert knowledge and whitewater gear from quality brands like Pyranha, Dagger, Jackson, and Liquidlogic. More recently, they also began branching out to paddleboards, fishing kayaks from the likes of Hobie, inflatables from Aire and NRS, and lifestyle gear, so no matter if you’re looking for an inflatable to relax your way down the river, a fishing kayak to help you reel in your trophy catch, or your dream whitewater boat to navigate your way down difficult rapids, 4Corners has the inventory to get you to where you want to be.

As a full-on riversports shop, they also offer a complete range of whitewater gear from dry gear to kids PFDs, carrying brands such as Immersion Research, NRS, Kokatat, Werner, and Astral.

4Corners is also the host of an annual big gear swap on the last weekend of April, offering customers the ability to come in with their old gear and trade it in towards store credit or cashback. This gives their customers the ability to upgrade their kit for newer technical gear or kayaks themselves. They also offer consignment sales on kayaks, where you trade in your kayak for a freshie, and if it sells then you get the cash back or store credit. These types of programs are valuable and should be taken advantage of by local customers. Those at the shop are ecstatic about getting people in the right kayak, and urge you to come in and participate in these programs that they offer.

Come on in and have a look around!

The kayak school hosted by 4Corners is a full-on skills academy available to those from 6 years old up. They have had several people in their 80s join in too, eager to learn the basics of whitewater kayaking. From rolling in their pool to progressing through harder whitewater, the kayak academy staff is well trained and full of knowledge they want to pass on to the whitewater community. The first level, basic roll clinic starts at around 60$ per class, and a week long class costs about 450$.

Offering rentals and demos as well, the shop will often make sure you know how to roll in their pool before you take out their equipment. You are able to rent any of their inflatables or hard shell kayaks that they have available to take to the local sections of the Animas River, or take down to the Animas River play park only a stone’s throw away from their outpost.

The Animas River Days is a huge event in Durango that has been taking place annually for the past 37 years hosted by 4Corners and run by Ashley Diaz, a Managing Partner at 4Corners. Started initially by the same family who opened the shop, Animas River Days has become a staple in the Colorado whitewater scene. The event consists of several different disciplines; freestyle events, boater cross, stand up paddleboard surfing and raft races. The playpark is full of different whitewater vendors set up with a beer garden for all of those who are of age to enjoy. Cash prizes are offered for those who podium. Unfortunately, this year’s River Days event was cancelled due to the pandemic, but look out for its comeback in 2021!

What would have been this years Animas River Days t-shirts. Unfortunately this years event was cancelled due to COVID-19.

In dealing with the recent pandemic and the associated local and state restrictions for businesses, 4Corners has adapted by organizing the inside of their shop more like a mini-warehouse; trying their best to meet with the high demand of online orders they have been receiving. Recently, their local restrictions have been lifted and they are now allowed a maximum number of customers within their shop, but still encourage people to order online if possible. They regularly ship anywhere within the United States, and will try their best to get orders to Canada as well. Browse their inventory, give them a call, and place your orders online from anywhere in the states at www.riversports.com

Being in operation for 37 years, 4Corners has been one of the most successful paddlesport shops in the state of Colorado. With gear for almost every type of mission from flat lakes to multi-day expeditions, chances are they have what you are looking for. With the right people teaching you the skills from basic paddle strokes to advanced river running, their kayak school can help build your foundation as a whitewater kayaker. Knowledge of the products, stoke for the sport, and decades-long involvement in their community. Passion, enthusiasm and character. These are all traits of 4Corners Riversports.

22
Jun

Rio Sarapullu to Rio Toachi

We finally did the Rio Sarapullu! Last year (in April) with Thomas Neime, we decided to visit the Santo Domingo area. The rivers in the West part of Quito are quite unusual runs but, nonetheless this area delivers good quality and a variety of white-water which was actually what we were looking for. 

The last time, the river flooded, which made the canyon of Rio Sarapullu un-runnable. But, one year later, here we are…

We finally arrived at the put in of the river after a 1h30 shuttle in the back of a cattle truck with all the members of the team (Thomas Neime, Kevin Gauthier, Michiel De Ruytter, and me: Arthur Bernot). Luckily, there we were, lost in the jungle with our beloved kayaks and the pristine and clear water, which comes from the Ilinizas volcanoes located in the Western Andes chain. The water level looked juicy; to be exact, it was 7 on the gauge under the bridge at the put-in.

Kevin Gauthier and Thomas Neime unloading the truck at the Put In of Rio Sarapullu by Arthur Bernot

For the first 3 kilometres, the river was open and surrounded by the jungle with class III-IV rapids. We found this perfect, since you can warm-up and enjoy the jungle, in particular, watching the birds.

After this fun section, we arrived at a long rapid with a series of boofs. This rapid ended up between two walls around 4-5 metres tall, which marks the beginning of the canyon. Sometimes, the river tightens suddenly, leaving space for just one boat, and that happens for around 6 kilometres more! We ran a couple of amazing class V rapids at times, but it wasn’t easy to set proper safety.

Then, the river flows into the Rio Toachi. The Rio Toachi source is from the Quilotoa Volcano. It is a pity that just after the confluence, a dam has been built (not finished yet). The entire volume of water goes inside a tunnel, which goes deep under the mountain. (Our taxi driver shared with us a curious fact: a crew of kayakers has passed through this mysterious tunnel!)

Thomas Neime and Michiel De Ruytter posing at the last main rapid on Rio Sarapullu By Arthur Bernot

So, it is mandatory to portage on the left side. We crossed the construction site, and thankfully the bodyguards were nor upset with our presence. We moved fast so as not to disturb the workers. After the dam, we started the Rio Toachi.

The river is double the flow, but still as narrow as the Sarapullu. Sometimes the river widens and then tightens again, forming nice waves and big holes, with some mandatory boofs. You have to get these boofs, otherwise the penalty is immediate.

We moved fast, and everything was almost read and run. We just scouted two rapids and portaged one that Michiel tried to run… but his line didn’t inspire us (beater). With Thomas and Kevin, we decided to portage it on the right side.

The river continues to flow between narrow lines and small flat water sections until the small town of Alluriquine, which is actually the take-out. At the end, only 500 metres remained to walk with our kayaks to our hostel where a swimming pool was waiting; perfect to relax after 4h and 21km of great kayaking.

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