Sometimes as a shop owner, I have to creatively justify expenses for the toys I want that we sell. In this case, I wanted to try the Kokopelli Recon pack raft, so I bought two for our rental fleet (despite the fact that 20 years ago I had decided that whitewater scared me more than rock and snow so I should focus on climbing and skiing rather than kayaking). On the other hand, I appreciate multisport days and the idea of biking to the Nooksack River, floating down, and then biking home had a certain allure.
Subsequently, I started to gain confidence on beginner whitewater adventures. Friends with experience graciously allowed me to tag along on the Skagit, Tieton, and Rogue rivers, where I started to appreciate how friendly, versatile, and safe the Recon is compared to hardshell whitewater kayaks. I also enjoyed some fantastic days with my kids as they learned to paddle some mellow whitewater.
Recently a friend who had tried our rental—and was so stoked that he had bought his own Recon—talked me into floating Whatcom Creek in Whatcom Falls Park. This is where I figured out my “why” for new toys: Sometimes, it’s about new adventures and adrenaline, but in this instance it was about seeing familiar places with fresh eyes, gaining a new perspective, and being reminded about what a great place we call home.
Backcountry Essentials, owned by Chris Gerston, is an outdoor specialty shop located at 214 W. Holly in Bellingham, WA.