On The Nature Of Water: Chris Lockhart & Capital City Kayaks
Chris Lockhart believes in the power of backyard adventures.
Working as Jackson's foremost kayaking instructor and outfitter with Capital City Kayak Adventures since 2014, he continues to help locals and tourists alike rediscover nature, a new hobby, and themselves.
"I kayaked for the first time when I was about ten, going to a science camp over the summer in Hattiesburg," Lockhart said. "I loved it from then on and kept doing it ever since."
While Chris may technically be a business owner, he feels like his actual professional title is more akin to the wildlife he gets to explore every day. "I like to tell people I'm an Outdoor Enthusiast," Lockhart laughs. "I'm always going to be outside, whether fishing, hitting a nature trail, catching bugs, anything like that. I love getting to share my hobbies with other people."
One of the things Chris loves most about kayaking is its universality. Whether first-timers or seasoned professionals, relaxing on the water is a pastime that all can enjoy. He also loves when clients are surprised to discover the local beauty hidden under their noses. "A lot of people don't realize that here in Mississippi and Jackson, we have beautiful green spaces, many of which are quiet and underutilized," Lockhart said. "I'm here to help others take advantage of that, instead of thinking they have to travel to another place to kayak."
Chris operates throughout the entire year and schedules his trips by the sunlight. He can adjust to groups as large or small as needed and has had clients float with him from as far away as Oklahoma, New York, Louisiana - even Ethiopia. Knowing that kayaking can be intimidating, Chris' service, safety protocols, and guidance are there to calm fears and make the experience all the more enjoyable.
"People assume that kayaks are all unstable and scary, or their biggest fear is that they can't swim," Lockhart said. "It looks deep, especially in the spring and summer when you can't see to the bottom. But at any given moment, you can take your paddle and tap it. That helps a lot of people overcome their initial anxieties. I'm here to keep people at ease, especially if they've never done it. They know they have somebody out here to reassure them they're going to be ok."
No matter your experience level, Chris does guarantee one outcome, and that's the reward of getting to unplug and be a part of your surroundings.
"It's one thing to be adjacent to nature and look at it from the parking lot or the water's edge, but when you're in the kayak, you're getting a duck's eye view," Lockhart said. "It's an escape from the everyday pressures of life. So, bring a smile, a portable speaker, stretch out and just enjoy."
On your next trip with Capital City Kayaks, stop and check out Chris' buses, which were reimagined by local artist and muralist Gavin Bird. "Gavin and I wanted to come up with a concept that reflected the local wildlife you might see while you're on the water," Lockhart said. "One of my favorite animals is a Great Blue Heron. You'll see tons of those out moving around and hunting. If you come to a morning session, you'll see a bunch of giant water lilies and lily pads. And one of my favorites, especially to fish - the Spotted Gar."