Who is Miles Paddled?
Barry Kalpinski created Miles Paddled and spends a ridiculous amount of time keeping it running with new posts and various content between work, and well, paddling. He’s also the guy you email and talk to on all our social channels. Fun fact: He spent his Covid-summer of 2020 writing the biblically-large “Canoe & Kayak Camping Wisconsin Water Trail Guide.”
Timothy is constantly paddling, sometimes even submitting trips in the dead of winter. Timothy became a fan, then contributor to Miles Paddled, and has since released a paddling guidebook.
Rachel has been our biggest evangelist ever since we can remember. Always up for any style of paddling – at any time of year – nothing intimidates her.
Trevor is an avid outdoorsman and paddling is just one of his many skills. His “come what may – let’s embrace the suck” attitude makes him perfect for this outfit.
Scotty is as passionate about paddling as he is about using his ingenuity to make paddling safer or far more comfortable (like his custom rig to haul a large amount of boats). His “Y-er” invention has been in our boats from the moment he reached out to suggest we might be interested in his crazy awesome invention.
What’s with the Star Rating?
From day one, the star rating was a “quick” indicator of how well we liked a paddle. Generally speaking, 5 stars means the trip is spectacular in every sense – perfect water levels, scenery, access points, etc. 4 stars typically means that the trip is still spectacular, but the water might be too low (or high), an access might not be ideal, or that there are some downed trees or barbed wires. 3 stars means a very pleasant trip but not necessarily a spectacular one. 2 stars means there’s a lot of nuisances (usually obstructions) or dangers or quite frankly, it was boring as hell. 1 star – and there are only very few of these – means don’t even think about wasting your time on this trip.
We have no trips with 0 stars. We believe every day on the water is better still than one at work.
Why do you have multiple reports for the same river?
We post trip reports versus overviews because every day, month, and (especially) year, mother nature changes the course of rivers and creeks. Every paddle trip is different, so with each new report comes new information and we find this to be the most accurate way of being current (pun, semi-intended).
The old saying is true: you never paddle the same river twice. Not only do conditions change but so do our perceptions. Sometimes our first visit to a stream is underappreciated but something’s different the second time around, and suddenly, we fall in love with it. Conversely, sometimes our second visit doesn’t live up to that first time for whatever reason. Capturing multiple reports also teaches us about water levels and how a familiar stream feels when it’s low, high or ideal.
Are the water levels you post based on ideal levels or what you paddled them at?
What we paddled it at. Essentially, it’s a frame of reference. In the detailed trip descriptions we mention whether the water was low, high, or just right at the time we paddled it. This information is based on what we have personally experienced without speculating. The more exposure we have to a certain stream at various levels, the more comprehensive our recommendation becomes. Additionally, we cross-reference other paddling websites and guidebooks for recommended levels.
For a comprehensive guide to how we reference water levels (and this question), please check out our feature “How to Gauge Wisconsin Water Levels”.
Why don’t you always report on upstream and downstream sections?
First rule of Miles Paddled: No speculation (well, maybe not the first rule but it should be because it’s a good one).
Speculation is useless information. Unless we or someone we know has done something recently, it’s outdated. Uninformed information can be dangerous and/or make for a bad day on the water. We always strive to provide as much information as possible, as long as we have a source to cite. We’re not journalists or anything but we do take this blog seriously. Chances are if we’ve paddled anywhere, we’ve written about it on this site.
What boats do you recommend?
While we rarely keep on the latest and greatest, but I highly recommend test-paddling the one in front of you. If it feels comfortable, you’ll be more comfortable on the water. If you’re feeling anxious, you’ve got the wrong boat. Humans come in different sizes and that’s why boats do too. Of the plastic variety, Wilderness Systems Tsunamis are great touring boats, Pyranha Fusions and Katanas are proven for creeking, and canoes, well, they’re canoes – great and gentle on flatwater but only as good as your skill level in rapids.
How do you get back to your car?
If we don’t car shuttle (where two people each drive a car) we bike-shuttle. Sometimes we shuttle before the paddle and sometimes after – it just depends on the direction we’re coming from or possibly because we’re trying to outrun some bad weather. There are pros and cons to biking before and after. Biking after? Well, if it’s a terrible paddle at the beginning and you need to bail, at least you’re close to your car. Biking before? You might be closer to the take-out on your driving approach depending on your direction. Split the difference? You just might be trying to beat some bad weather so you better get paddling, or biking! Yeah, there’s no real rule of thumb here.
Do you lock your kayak up and if so, where?
We suggest an extra long cable lock which can be attached to the kayak – usually beneath the seat. There’s always a tree or a sign or something to lock it to. Or sometimes, you can just hide the boat under a bridge or in some bushes. Throughout the years, we’ve had two things stolen; a water bottle (about which Timothy is still a little miffed, mostly out of disbelief – “who steals water bottles?!?”) and a boat which wasn’t locked up.
Can you recommend any places to canoe-camp?
Why yes, yes we can. Check out our rather robust Canoe and Kayak Camping Wisconsin Water Trail Guide for an overview to 30+ places throughout the state to paddle-camp. Feel like browsing individually? You can find them all here.
Do you paddle in winter?
A few of us do and swear it doesn’t suck. As long as you drink your beer before it freezes, I guess.
What do you wear for cold-weather paddling?
Short answer: Layer up – that’s the key. Long answer: Check out our “How to Dress For Cold-Weather Paddling” feature for our recommendations.
We’re a big brand corporation that wants to shower you in gear and sponsorships, are you interested?
Alright, we’ve never been asked this but we’d certainly be open to discussing it.
Do you make money? Are you a business?
Contrary to how Facebook designates us, we are not a business. This is a hobby. The site does need to be self-sufficient, however, therefore we do sell t-shirts and have utilize ads to support it. All additional income goes to stickers and the balance is donated to causes near and dear to us (River Alliance of Wisconsin, American Whitewater, Outdoor Afro, and who knows in the future?)
Do you accept donations?
Awkward question. We’ve been given donations a few times, but as mentioned above, once the hosting costs are covered, we donate anything leftover. Therefore, we feel it’s not right to donate donated money. If you want to help sustain the site and indirectly donate to causes dear to us, you can do so by purchasing a t-shirt from our Spreadshirt or Threadless shops, where we get a cut of the sales.
Can I contribute trip reports?
Yes! We’re happy to walk you through our format and must-haves for writing a trip report. Contact Barry and let’s get writing. Do note that we won’t post duplicative reports (meaning the same report posted to other sites) because we find limited value in posting the same report to multiple outlets for a region as small as ours. Also, self/business-promotion is not a thing we’re interested in. All contributions become property of Miles Paddled (since that would really mess with referencing, naming, etc., and we don’t have time for that.)
I heard there’s a site about biking with a similar name – what’s the relationship?
None whatsoever. We would’ve loved to have been asked how we felt about it before the launch.
I’ve got an idea for a paddle, are you interested in trying it?
If you know of some obscure creek that you’re too sensible enough to try your luck on but would like to sponsor one of us to, then let’s talk.
What’s your favorite place to paddle?
Our single-favorite place to paddle is somewhere we’ve never been – nothing is more exciting to us more than adventuring new streams.
Why haven’t you paddled X, Y, and Z river?
We will. We just haven’t gotten there yet.
Where are you paddling next?
No idea – depends on weather and water levels.
Can I get a sticker?
Sure, email me, plead your case, and wait idly by your mailbox. All we ask is that you send us a picture of it in return (the latter part is almost never returned but we thank those of you who have). 😉