A few weekends back I had the chance to spend a few days at Smithville Lake in Missouri with a great group of kayak and other watercraft enthusiasts, Paddle KC. Around 70 people showed up for the fun and lots of great activities. Sponsors such as Bass Pro, Kokopelli Pack Rafts, L.L. Bean and more stopped by to show there products and let us demo some of the newer kayaks and SUP's they brought along. It as an amazing weekend.
We kicked it off with a cooking demo put on by the parks department. We learned how to make several dishes in a dutch oven over a campfire. My favorite was the chocolate raspberry dump cake.
Our first planned big event was the day paddle on the lake. We had the privilege of meeting Joe Stiller, rep for Kokopelli pack rafts, who also happens to be one of just a few Americans competing inthe Iditarod Trail Invitational, a grueling bike and foot race that takes place before the dogs take off in the Iditarod. He brought along his famous titanium bike on his pack raft, getting in some early practice for the race and showing how versatile biking and rafting can be.
My first night kayak was amazing. The weather was perfect! We had about 30 kayaks all decorated and lit up with lights for the event. We were even treated to a fireworks show by a neighboring camping group. The moon was full and the water was calm.
I was able to try out Joe Stiller's bike that he will be riding in the Iditarod, as well as taking a spin on my first SUP! I loved it now I want one. I had a chat with the Stand Up Paddleboard Midwest owner who helped show me the kind of board that is right for me.
We finished out the day getting a demo from Joe on how to break down the bike and attach it to a pack raft. These rafts are amazing. They are durable and easy to maneuver in the water, it's extremely light and can literally fit in your pack, and they blow up easily without a lot of equipment. he also told a few good stories about some of the more grueling biking trips he has been on, and shared how he is preparing for the Iditarod Trail Invitational. Best of luck Joe, we are rooting for you!
By the end of the weekend I was ready to paddleboard some more and improve my skills. The Paddle KC group really did a great job on putting this all together for us. I am looking forward to next year's trip as more sponsors have come on board and it's set to be even bigger next year. I was happy to make new friends that have the same interests as I do, learn more about kayaking so I can get more use out of mine, and learn a few new outdoor skills. I can't wait for next year!
If your interested in joining the group go here: http://www.meetup.com/paddlekc/