2017 was easily the most eventful year for Milespaddled.com yet. Never could we have imagined just how many opportunities would come our way when the year began. For two guys who generally fear self-promotion, (well, one guy, Timothy’s OK with it) we certainly spent more face-time outside the confines of creeks, rivers and laptops than ever before. But it was an awesome trip since we made a lot of new friends and connections along the way.
So we thought we’d take a moment to look back at the year, because really, who doesn’t like end-of-the-year recaps?
After the release of Timothy’s guidebook in the fall of 2016 we did our best to spread the word, starting in the biggest way we could think of – presenting at the world’s largest paddling expo, Canoecopia. Having attended for years, it was a thrill for us to be part of the speaker group, many of whom we greatly admire.
Believe it or not, we actually gave up some paddling weekends to plan and practice. Then, to packed rooms we stumbled our way through two days of talks, met some great people and put some faces to names we’ve only known via email. It was nerve-wracking and intimidating but totally exhilarating at the same time (check out the crowd size on day two in the video below). We also signed and sold a lot of Timothy’s book which he’s ever grateful for. It was a pretty exceptional way to start the year.
As the result of an encounter at Canoecopia, we were next invited to sign some books and raise some funds and awareness for the River Alliance of Wisconsin during Craft Beer Week for the first ever PaddlePalooza, hosted by Bill at the Malt House. Here, Timothy sold some more books, we made some more friends and definitely drank our share of beer, all to benefit the River Alliance. Our hats off to Bill for the event and being a huge supporter of our site!
A few months later brought us to the annual Fools’ Flotilla event. The first family of Miles Paddled participated for the first time – decked out in a gaudy canoe (but well-marketed, if we do say so ourselves) while Timothy volunteered/dog-paddled to keep others safe and in-line. This family-friendly event was a ton of fun, and a great opportunity to garner awareness for the River Alliance of Wisconsin.
Not long after that, we were featured in a River Alliance newsletter via a Question and Answer article where we talked about things near and dear to our heart. Recreation and conservation are ultimately tied and it was great to speak with passionate folks like Danika, Raj and the crew at the Alliance that do what that can with the resources they have. The fact that we were asked to be part of a little article like this was pretty awesome to say the least.
If that wasn’t enough, just a couple months ago we were invited to speak at Rutabaga Paddlesports. It was an evening affair after the store closed. An extracurricular event, if you will. The turnout far exceeded what we ever could have expected. We talked, and talked, and talked, and talked (Timothy likes words) and then made some new connections along the way. Timothy signed some more books, and we were surprised by some old friends and contributors who were there in attendance. A great night, indeed.
That’s a helluva lot of Miles Paddled facetime, for sure.
Did we even mention that we put on more miles under our boats yet? Because all that was really the icing on what was another busy year adventuring and discovering new paddle trails like the West Branch of the Fond Du Lac, the Plover River and Willow Creek, but also returning to old favorites like Halls, Morrison, and Robinson Creeks as well as the Upper Iowa River. These trips and more all culminated in our annual Best of Paddling report.
This year we wrote a couple new gear reviews as well as helped introduce the Y-er, a homemade tool invented by a reader of the site who was inspired to find a safer way to navigate driftless streams often choked by barbed wire. We also added some new feature reports like our first Moon Light Paddle, a semi-ridiculous guide to gifts for paddlers, as well as a Paddle Guide for the Crystal River which we finished this year.
We also welcomed some new contributors who provided some great reports like A+T who paddled the last legs of Koshkonong Creek, the obscure West Branch of the Sugar River and the amazing Ontonagon River in the Upper Peninsula. Eric paddled an obscure stretch of Badger Mill Creek and we also heard from seasoned contributors like Jared who gave us a spring trip down the Prairie as well as the Flambeau River. And then there was Rachel who offered up one of the most completely unique trips on Milespaddled.com – the Chicago River.
And of course, we designed some new shirts, because well we can, and your purchase actually supports our site. Best yet, we actually made some money off t-shirt sales after paying our hosting costs which allowed us to donate to the River Alliance for the second year in a row! Which, if our little blog can do that, that’s a helluva thing for us to be proud of.
So we want to thank all you Miles Paddlers, new and old, contributors, friends and family for the continued support which makes this little hobby more than amusing, but a lovely endeavor we can all share in.
We’re looking forward to another awesome year. And this one will be extra special because 2018 will make ten years for Milespaddled.com. TEN YEARS!? I know, right? Yes, it’ll be our anniversary, which is pretty crazy. But it’s exciting and we have a lot of fun things in-store. And it all starts… well, today.
Happy 2018 everyone, let’s have a great and safe new year!