Visit to the Heart of the Paddling World – Part 5 of 5

Chris Hackerd, VP of Store Operations and one of three ACK co-owners, is an avid mountain biker, birder, ‘yak angler and all around outdoors-man. Recently, Chris traveled east to North Carolina to celebrate his grand mother’s 80th birthday and took the opportunity to visit many of the manufacturers based out of the area including Confluence, Legacy, WernerEnoAstralFeel Free/Pyrahna. Below is part five of his trip. See part four here.

Dinver at Pyrhana is getting anxious for my arrival as I pull up to their facility.  The building they are in is an old textile factory and it is amazing.  I want to buy it and live in it.  I get lost and stumble on secret doors and hallways.  The wood floors are beautiful and unrefined with scratches and nails in no particular pattern. You can tell there used to be windows where there are now walls and the roof has a turret like an old style castle. I’ve been searching for Dinver for about 10 minutes and I finally just start yelling his name…to my delight he responds!

I get a tour of the facility which looks like a kayak had a slumber party and invited it’s closest 1,000 friends.  Kayaks are packed in high and tight everywhere, they had anticipated my excitement over the Moken 10 Lite and already had one on the floor cut out of the plastic for me to inspect.  I looked it over and then started measuring it…They asked me what I was checking for they could tell me dimensions.  I wanted to see if it would fit in the overhead compartment of the plane.  I got kayaks to sell!

It’s been a long day and it’s time to hit downtown Asheville we run into Pyrhana team paddler Crystal Gustin and I ask her about what she enjoys about being a team paddler.  Besides the discounts on gear which comes in handy as a “highly” paid educator.  The opportunity to meet people and educate women paddlers motivates her.  More people paddling and caring for the rivers is what I think a lot of us hope for.

Well the work part of my trip is over and now it’s time to get with the family.  This was an exceptional trip and a great way to put faces with names and voices.  I love the passion of our sport and see big things for the future.

Thanks for reading my series of reports, this is it for now!


Camp Moken

We’ve always wanted to camp out of our kayaks and promised ourselves that this year we would finally do it. Back in April, my good friend Jason and I set off down the Tennessee River Blueway for an overnight trip out of our kayaks. We had researched on the Internet and based on previous attempts we decided a course.

We picked Suck Creek boat ramp right outside of Chattanooga and the beginning of the Tennessee River Gorge to start the journey — on a Thursday at 2pm, we were on our way. According to the map, we had about 10 miles to paddle to the camp. The camp is free and part of the Prentice Cooper State Forest.  The weather was overcast and about 70 degrees. The water was glassy and smooth and our boats were gliding right along. It was great too, we had the entire river to ourselves. The only other boat we saw were two guys fishing out of a flat bottom.

Camp was on river right and reached about 7:30pm. After setting up the tents, my buddy started working on the fire and I started gathering wood for it. We had roughly 1 hour of daylight left and didn’t want to loose it! The weather was calling for bad thunderstorms, about a 60% chance, so we wanted to at least get dinner in our bellies before the fire was rained on. It did rain starting about midnight, but never stormed real bad.

The next morning the clouds had cleared and the sun was bright and shining. There is nothing like rolling out of your tent a few feet from the river. We cooked breakfast, explored the area a bit, came back and starting packing up camp.

Paddling to the take-out was WAY different than paddling to camp. The sun was out in full force and left little to no shade near the bank seeing how it was midday. We battled a small headwind all day and the water was choppy. We did get passed by a couple of big luxury boats and it was fun riding the wake. We got off the water at Sullivan’s Landing, a boat ramp on Highway 41 between Chattanooga and Haletown, about 4pm.

It was a good first trip, we both really enjoyed it, and plan on doing it again one day. My friend paddles a Jackson Riviera and I paddle a Feel Free Moken 10.

Most of my info was acquired from

Matt O.