Featured Outfitter: Georgetown Parks & Recreation Outdoor Adventure Programs

Enjoying the Outdoor Adventures Program

Having a well run Parks and Recreation Department is an important part of any community. Not only do they give you access to parks but also provide array of facilities and special programs for visitors to enjoy.

Today, we are featuring the Georgetown Parks and Recreation Department Outdoor Adventure Programs.

ACK has been working with Joe Armstrong, Youth Adventure Coordinator, for several years now. It’s always been obvious to us that he truly cares a great deal about what he is doing. He maintains a nice fleet of canoes and kayaks that he uses for organized trips to some amazing locations such as Colorado Bend State Park, Frio River, upper Guadalupe River and Possum Kingdom Lake. Joe schedules these trips throughout the year, which can be enjoyed by both area residents and visitors.

These adventures only require a nominal fee but you must be at least 12 years old to participate. However, there is a family trip scheduled for the Frio River that accommodates anyone that is 8 and up as long as a parent is present. Joe and the gang work tirelessly to teach people that it’s okay to turn off your TV and put down your iPads for an exciting outdoor adventure.

For more information about Georgetown Outdoor Adventure Programs, visit: http://adventure.georgetown.org


Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone — Again

A few months back I made a challenge to our blog readers to get out of their comfort zone and try participating in an event that they might not do very well in but that they would enjoy. For example, triathlons, mountain biking, adventure races, canoe and kayak races or even a fishing tournament. This weekend I’m putting my money where my mouth is and will be taking part in my first fishing tournament ever.

I will be teeing off tomorrow morning with 35 other anglers in an attempt to snag some bass out on Lake Georgetown in the Kayak Angler Tournament Series or better known as KATS. This event is hosted by AustinKayakFishing.com, a forum and online portal dedicated to the sport of fishing here in central Texas of which ACK is also a sponsor!

What makes this a challenge for me is that I am not an expert angler by any stretch of the imagination.  The last time I wet a fishing line I almost drowned just east of Austin at Decker Lake. Some of you might remember this story from one of my previous email newsletter articles — funny now, but a scary experience. A few weeks ago I checked my schedule and noticed that I had an opening and a very understanding wife who was totally cool with me taking some time to go fishing even though I need to be working on our new deck.

I have to say, I’m pretty excited about tomorrow morning even though I’m feeling a little under the weather. I had lunch yesterday with my unofficial fishing instructor, none other than Ranch Road’s Trey Webb, who guided me through what to expect tomorrow and where I should fish. I stopped by his house and he showed me several rods and reels that he had along with piles of lures and soft plastics. He was generous enough to share some of his gear with me since I really don’t have much myself. We discussed what to cast first and when to implement the backup plan. We talked about a few solid setups to use and laid out a pretty detailed plan of attack. I fully intend to follow his instruction in detail since he had trophies all over the place.

Tonight I’m going to set up a Hobie Pro Angler that I pulled out of the Austin store’s rental fleet and load it with my gear so I can pull it right out of the bed of my truck at the launch ramp at 8am.  I have my ACK Team Jersey ready to go along with my waterproof pants.  The coffee maker will be set and my lunch will be packed.  While I have visions of going crazy like Mike Laconelli with every catch, the reality is that I probably won’t catch a single fish as I’ve done soooo many times before.  However, I know that bad days of fishing from a kayak are still better than a good day of working.
Check in on our Facebook page as I update my progress throughout the morning and please, wish me luck!


24 Hours of Rocky Hill Ranch

The 24 hours of Rocky Hill Ranch is an annual 24-hour mountain bike race that takes place near Austin, just outside of Smithville, Texas. Competitors race in teams of 2 through 8 persons on a 9 mile course. Relay teams trade off riders after each lap. For the truly insane there is a solo division, and to be honest I think those people are mentally unstable. I like the fact that the makeup of the teams can be both women and men. Team Austin Canoe and Kayak was an 8-person team made up of 7 men and 1 woman with ages ranging 25 to 51. This race is the real deal but our focus was to have fun.

In my opinion we did admirable for a first time team finishing 14th out of 19 teams in our division. For many of us this was not only the first time racing, the first time riding at night, the first time going without any sleep for an extended period of time and the first time being out in the woods with nobody to help you if you have a problem. Yes, I was one of the first timers but I was very excited. I trained for 3 months leading up to the event.

And here is where it all began. I shot out of the gate for my first lap with my legs pumping as hard as I could, attempting to attack “Chuck’s revenge” — which is pretty much a mile long climb. After a quarter of a mile it felt as if my lungs were about to burst, my legs were becoming as weak as “Jell-O” and I found myself pushing my bike up the hills more than once. I have to admit, the rest of that ride was miserable. It wasn’t because of the physical exhaustion but rather the fact that I crashed hard crossing a series of roots around mile 3, losing my handlebar bike light for the remainder of my lap (my own stupidity for not checking the battery cord). For the remaining 6 miles I cursed the trail, my bike, the night, the timers, the race organizer, my teammates and everyone else I could think of while I gutted out the remainder of the lap with only my headlamp. As I completed my lap and returned to the transition area I found myself upset, tagged my teammate Perry who was eager to get back out on the trail and trudged 50 yards over to our campsite.

I sulked in camp for a few minutes as I dreaded my next turn which would come sometime between 12 and 1 a.m. Th night wore on while my other teammates rode their laps. We talked, we ate, we tried to play some games but mostly we sat around the campsite enjoying each others company. We also tried to sleep at different parts of the night but it was tough with so much activity around us.

When I was tagged in for my next dreaded lap, I rode off with an almost Zen like feeling. Fact is, I don’t consider myself an elite athlete, never been one, why in the world did I think I would show up on this day and ride the greatest lap this place had ever seen? Well, I am a guy that doesn’t give up. What kept me going is that it didn’t matter what my time was, all that mattered that I was going to make the most of it by giving this lap my all and enjoy it the best that I could. I realized there was no sense in sulking or feeling angry and reminded myself that I don’t get that many opportunities to be out in the woods with my friends doing this type of thing.

So onward I went and I rode the hell out of that lap — enjoying every minute of it. So what if I needed to occasionally jump off and push my bike? All this made me think of all the things we miss or don’t do because we are afraid we won’t do well or place near the top and worry that people may think less of us for finishing at the bottom half of the standings. My participation was enough for me and it was something to be proud of. It kind of reminds me of the ACK Fishing Challenge that was occurring that same weekend. I know that many would-be participants don’t compete because they don’t think they will do well. I can think of a lot worse things to be doing than fishing with some new friends, eating some pizza, having a good time and getting some free gear regardless of my finish.

So, back to my own personal challenge. Despite a few hurdles, it was a great success for team ACK plus I now have a cool looking ACK racing jersey. I’d like to thank our sponsors including Thule, Wilderness Systems, Powerbar, GSI, Yakima, Malone and NRS for supporting our team. I also want to extend a big thank you to Steve, Liam, Glen, Josh, Perry, Lara and Tim for a great weekend.

I can’t wait until the next event and you can expect to hear more from team ACK.


P.S. Speaking of racing jerseys, we also sell them! Click here for pricing and details. They are great for triathlons, running events, bike races, canoe and kayak races and even fishing tournaments.

Austin Fishing Challenge

I started the fishing challenge 3 years ago as a way to get people that had never tournament fished or were afraid to dive into tournament fishing, with a low cost, low pressure “fun challenge”.  I worked with Dennis Hermes of Austin Kayak Fishing extensively to learn the correct ways to run a tournament.  He runs the AKF KATS Tournament here in Austin.

We have started planning the 2010 Fishing Challenge and since Lady Bird Lake worked out so well last year we are going to go back this year and do it up.  We have great prizes and a wide variety of winners.  From biggest Bass, to best 3 bass.  We also have some non-traditional prizes for smallest fish, carp, the golden catfish and overall length no matter the fish.   We have a kids division that will get just as excited for the sunfish as the Hog.

Kayak fishing is gaining popularity and ACK embraces that shift.  It is a wonderful way to enjoy the water, outdoors and the sport of fishing.

When: Oct 24th at Lady Bird Lake we will get together once again to fish, have some fun and eat some food together.

For more details click here.

Chris Hackard

My Umpteenth Demo Day

I’m amazed at how far we have come on the eve of my umpteenth demo day.  I still remember the first demo at the Austin Rowing Center.  Steve and I blocking traffic on the busy Street in front of Austin High school.  We hand unloaded each boat off our trailer and walked them through the woods to the dock area.  We would dodge runners, bikers and very determined women pushing tank like strollers wearing angry looking shades and iPods.

We could only take 14 boats to the water that day.  It was a mess.  Steve and I sat there just wondering if anyone would even show up.  It went ok that first time but it laid the foundation of what is an unbelievable event.  Today we have over 70 kayaks to demo, vendors from all over the country, a chef preparing food, dozens of employees and customers lined up at the water.  It’s a funny feeling that what was once a fly by night 1 day event has become a 2 weekend festival that takes months of planning.  Pretty cool.

Now all it needs is YOU!  Come on out and say hello (and paddle a couple dozen kayaks).


ACK Visits the Boy Scouts this time

ACK was the featured guest at last month’s Capitol Area Council’s District Roundtable.  The main topic covered by ACK was Water Safety, or as the Boy Scouts call it “Safety Afloat”.  The Roundtable is a gathering of scout leaders and district executives who meet once a month for training and organizational communications.  We were happy to have the opportunity to show our support for the scouts, and share some valuable water safety information.

In keeping with the Safety Afloat equipment requirements the boy scouts follow, ACK discussed  a number of water safety products along these lines. The most important item being the PFD and the proper fitting and sizing necessary for each participant to be comfortable and safe. We brought a few vests that are kayak specific with padding that is higher on the back and designed to not ride up. Vests designed like this make paddling a kayak more comfortable and allow for a wider range of motion. Continue reading ACK Visits the Boy Scouts this time