HYDRA 145 CORE WhiteOut
Like a sea monster from the deep, the Hydra possesses plenty of attitude and can certainly hold its own in the big stuff.Learn More
WRITTEN BY: KELSEY THOMPSON
With paddling season over for most, at least those of us who live in colder winter climates like myself, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on the my first few days back in my boat during spring 2012.
Photo Above: Paddling the Recon on the Green (Photo Bryan Kirk)
For years winter was nonexistent for me, as soon as it got cold enough to make kayaking unpleasant I'd flea to somewhere warmer to keep the dream of kayaking full time alive. It was an amazing run but lately I've decided to embrace winter, and with my life now based in British Columbia it's a silly thing not to embrace with the incredible skiing that the province offers. The downside to this is obviously less kayaking and coming into the season rusty. After four months out of my boat I headed to the south eastern USA in April to paddle the Recon and shoot some video of the boat in action. Having never paddled the boat before and knowing that we were going to be paddling as much class five as we could left me a little nervous. I arrived in Washington D.C. the day after the south east had been rocked by rain and everything in the area was running, Great Falls, West Virginia and North Carolina were all prime!
Chief (Photo Bryan Kirk)
Since Great Falls holds it's water we decided to head to West Virginia to paddle Mill and Manns Creek. Two of my favourite runs when I lived in Fayetteville. Mill Creek was first. Not only would this be my first time paddling that year but it was also my first time paddling the Recon and I was going to be filming as well so my boat would be loaded. (Camera, lens, tripod, dolly, and all of my normal safety gear, throw bag, pin kit etc... uggh heavy!) I'm not suggesting that everyone should head straight to a challenging creek after a winter without paddling. I've paddled Mill Creek lots before and the level was very manageable with lots of spots for me to get out if I started flailing, make good decisions and know your limits!
The Recon made my first day back a breeze! Even with the 83 loaded down I instantly felt like I'd never gotten out of my boat. It was super easy to boof and without a doubt the most maneuverable boat I've ever paddled, the best way I can describe it is that it had the maneuverability of a playboat with the stability and predictability of a creek boat. Coming through Powder House on the lower section of Mill Creek was a great test for me. It's a tight rapid that starts with a boof into boils that try to push you around and flip you over ending with another boof. The Recon dominated this rapid, usually I'd have to paddle hard throughout it to stay on line and in control but I was able to boof the first ledge, rudder through the boils and then boof the last drop... piece of cake!
Testing out the "slideability" (Photo Bryan Kirk)
After getting my groove back on Mill Creek it was time for Manns, which is in my top five creek runs I've that done! Bryan Kirk and I always say before we put onto Manns that we're about to do 500 boofs... it's a joke but I bet if we counted the number of times we actually boofed run it would be up there! Manns is a labyrinth of boulders and was running on the low side which would be a great test for the Recon's bump and grind performance. I always seem to flip once on Manns, the closest I've come to running it without flipping over was a few years back when I flipped on the very last boof. It's always been my goal to run it clean but it's tough since there are so many challenging moves. It seemed like an unusual time to do this since I hadn't been paddling but the Recon made it happen, it actually made Manns seem a little too easy haha.
Rapid Transit on the Green (Photo Bryan Kirk)
Our class five quest continued with the Lower Meadow, the Green, Kanawha Falls (no idea on that spelling), and Great Falls. The Recon performed like a champ! The big rockered bow stays on the surface, stern edges help you carve and track when you need them and don't get in the way when you don't and the overall stability is quite remarkable. If you're looking for a new creek boat I'd highly recommend taking the Recon for a spin and seeing for yourself.
You can check out the Recon teaser video I made from my south east trip below. Also check out the Recon in BC from the Balance web series that I recently completed in the other videos below.