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By Stephen Wright

With Rock Island running at 1 generator for a month straight, it became the perfect time to head north for some kayaking action! I planned my around some of our fantastic Jackson Kayak Dealers, so that I could visit with them along the way. It’s been a lot of driving, but I’ll be back to Rock Island tomorrow night after a morning visit to Great Outdoor Provision in Raleigh, North Carolina tomorrow. This trip has really reminded me that the rivers of the Mid Atlantic are awesome for most of the year–between epic play and a Duo run on the Top Yough, it was a great paddling week.

I started out with the long 10-hour drive to Richmond, where I spent the night with my parents before heading up to DC the next morning. The Potomac was at a great level for running the Fishladder and playing Portage Hole. I was joined by James Sneeringer and Team JK paddler Mike Mathwin for 2 days of great paddling. James and his wife Carrie were kind enough to host me for 2 nights in DC, which was awesome! I also enjoyed biking Black dog for an hour a day on the C & O Canal towpath before paddling.

I then headed up to New Jersey to check-out a playspot that was rumored to be "the Salida of the East". Jeremy Laucks was kind enough to show me to Scudders Falls on the Delaware river, and it’s one of the best holes I’ve ever paddled! Every trick is possible, from massive loops to blunts, from endless cartwheels to mcnasties, and everything in between. I was happy to finally get a Tricky Wu-Mcnasty on film! We then stayed with Jeremy’s fiance Kate in Pottstown, where we ate the world’s biggest pizza–no really, it’s the world’s biggest pizza. Next day Jer and I got up early to drive back down to southern PA to Holtwood on the Susquehanna river. I used to play here 50-100 days a year when I live in PA, but hadn’t been back in a few years. It was freezing and snowing hard, which started me off with a bad attitude. BUT after 2 rides in STORM HOLE, I had a permanent smile on my face. I then stayed with Jeremy and his family for another 2 nights of fun–despite being skunked at Holtwood the next day.

In between, I visited our awesome dealer in the Harrisburg area: Blue Mountain Outfitters. They have TONS of kayaks and a shop full of more kayak accessories than anywhere I’ve ever been. I then headed into the depths of New Jersey to visit Bel Haven Canoe & Kayak! These were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met surrounded by lots of water! Tons of easy-going streams, lakes, and ponds are within an hour’s drive of this shop, and their staff are JK experts! Jackson Kayak is lucky to have each of our dealers and we’re grateful for everything they do for their communities.

Next it was over to the Pittsburgh/Confluence area to visit River Sport on the banks of the mighty Yough. River. Andy is the man who runs they shop and he was already an expert on JK products, so after a quick chat we headed over to paddle on the Top Yough! BEAST! It was cold and snowy with lots of ice in the eddies, but I was fortunate enough to run into NORI in the parking lots, who agreed to run the DYNAMIC DUO down with me. I haven’t run the Top Yough in a number of years, so he was kind enough to yell directions at me from the front as we had a BLAST running the river. The Duo is AWESOME! We even hit a few nice boofs on the way–which is crazy-feeling in a 12-foot boat with another paddler in front of me.
Now I’m back to Richmond, and then home to Rock Island tomorrow night–about 50 hours of driving, paddling 4 different rivers, and visiting 4 JK dealers along the way. What a great trip! There is awesome paddling in the mid atlantic right now!

Enjoy the 2 videos:

Here’s a short clip of Nori and I running the Duo down Swallow Falls on the Top Yough. The footage was sent to me by Jen Franko, who’s a great paddler and was kind enough to send me this video–shot with her waterproof camera no less!

This is the video that I made of all 3 playspots–Portage Hole, Storm Hole, and Scudder’s Falls. Enjoy!!!

Live from Richmond, VA
Stephen Wright