The Sporting Rage provides an introduction to kayaking | RecordCourier.com
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The Sporting Rage provides an introduction to kayaking

by Chuck Smock, sports editor

Exploring the lakes, rivers and trails of the Sierra Nevada is a hobby of mine that borders on obsession.

I have several favorite places to hike, bike, fish and paddle, but I’m always looking for new ones -and new ways to access the outdoors.

So, when the folks at The Sporting Rage in Carson City invited me to join them on a guided kayak tour last Sunday at Silver Lake, I jumped.

I’ve spent a lot of time in canoes, float tubes and motor boats over the years, but I had never been in a kayak before last weekend. As the sun set on my first kayak adventure, I wanted to kick myself for not trying the sport sooner.

A blue-bird day greeted our group and we were treated to mostly flat water conditions on the lake that is located just past Kirkwood on Highway 88. After a quick demonstration of the different paddling techniques, our little armada made its way around the lake as families of Canada geese and hooded mergansers did their best to stay out of the way while looking for a little calm water of their own.

Kevin Gallegos, the owner of The Sporting Rage, and fellow guides Gary Augenthaler, Cookie Gallegos and Ryan Frost have been leading group outings each Sunday since July. All of the guides are certified though the American Canoe Association and have CPR and first-aid training.

The tours, which are designed to accommodate up to eight paddlers, have made stops at Caples and Silver lakes in recent weeks, and there are plans for Lake Tahoe excursions later in the summer when boat traffic decreases.

The cost to participate in the guided tour is $55 per person, which includes all-day kayak rental, life jacket, paddle, instruction and lunch. The price is only $15 more than the $40 The Sporting Rage charges for a one-day kayak rental.

“It’s a low-cost introduction, with the security of being in a group and having a guide who can spend a little time giving you some instruction,” Augenthaler said. “The main goal is to give people the opportunity to see what kayaking is all about. A lot of the people are first-timers. We hope they come back feeling comfortable enough to rent one and take it out on their own.”

After lunch, Augenthaler demonstrated a self-rescue technique designed to make it easy for a paddler to get back in the boat following a rollover. He invited me to try the maneuver, and I’m glad I accepted. My first attempt was pretty pathetic, but I made it back into the kayak on my second attempt and I’m confident I’ll be able to repeat the process when I take my first “accidental” swim.

Cookie Gallegos and Augenthaler also showed me how to execute an “assisted rescue,” which involves a capsized boater and another who is still upright.

In addition to the paddling lessons, participants also have the chance to try several different sizes and styles of kayaks and paddles.

“We want to give them a feel for the sport and then they can judge how much they like it,” Augenthaler said.

The Sunday kayak tours are scheduled to continue through the fall. Space is limited and reservations are required. For more information, call The Sporting Rage at 885-7773.