So 2020 wasn’t what any of us were expecting, but here we are on day one of a whole new year with hope for better things ahead. Emphasis on hope because let’s face it, nobody wants to relive another 2020. While the nation’s first pandemic in 102 years disrupted everyday life like never before, so too was our own escape in terms of paddling.
The biggest disappointment was the cancellation of Canoecopia 2020, which we always look forward to, and what we consider the unofficial start of paddling in Wisconsin (weather permitting, of course). Timothy was scheduled to speak at the big show once again, which was to be followed by a first-time appearance at the Wisconsin Lakes & Rivers Convention, which of course was also cancelled.
As unexpected as the year turned out, there were still some bright spots for us. We covered many new miles of rivers and creeks throughout Wisconsin, while also creating some new features and keeping the site humming along despite the circumstances. So without further ado, let’s take a look back at some of the good that came about this year for Milespaddled.com, and here’s hoping 2021 rebounds into something special or even just something a bit more normal at the very least.
The Canoe & Kayak Camping Wisconsin Water Trail Guide
The biggest addition to the site was a project that had been in the works for quite some time and turned into our most ambitious feature ever. Over several months, we shared 31 paddle-camping trips from all across Wisconsin which resulted in our rather robust Canoe & Kayak Camping Wisconsin Water Trail Guide.
Officially Going Steady
We formally “knighted” three long-time contributors to Milespaddled.com. Rachel, Trevor and Scotty have been key collaborators and evangelizers of the site for quite sometime, and it was overdue to officially recognize just how awesome they are for all they contribute.
Now, With More Features
In addition to the Canoe & Kayak Camping Wisconsin feature, we also added a couple more interesting diversions. First, a paddling trip to Costa Rica, which is definitely the furthest south we’ve ever paddled. Second, Trevor began a DIY boat modification series with a unique fishing hack in his Kayak Modifications: Installing a Depth Finder feature. The series is just in its infancy but we’re looking forward to sharing more boat mods in the future.
Speaking of modifications, Timothy finally got a camera this year to capture his paddles. This has made for even more videos added to our YouTube channel thanks to Scotty who has poured his time, heart and editing talent into creating. If you like what you see, do us a favor and subscribe to our YouTube channel!
Outtakes For Take-Out
2020 saw the release of another (rather lengthy) Outtakes video which covered three more years of a mildly-amusing behind-the-scenes look at our adventures.
In July, Timothy had the privilege of returning to Wisconsin Public Radio’s beloved Larry Meiller Show to talk Paddling, Pedaling and Camping. I think this makes his 2020 appearance a three-peat, right?
The Cover of The Rolling Stone
Miles Paddled was unusually newsworthy this year. While trying to avoid the papazzi, we conducted interviews for South Central Wisconsin’s xPlore magazine, as well as for a feature in the Stevens Point Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Annual Guide. We also saw the release of the wonderful Wisconsin River with Miles Paddled video which was captured as part of our previous collaboration with the Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Oh, and we even had a split second of footage used in a Wisconsin Tourism TV commercial. Talk about big time.
North, South, East, West Wisconsin
Paddling over 300 new miles culminated in a rather unique cross-section in our annual Best Paddles list. From a wide-ranging stretch of southwestern driftless paddles like those of a personal favorite go-to Platte River trip, to the exotic and obscure gems of the Blue River and Rattlesnake Creek, to small exploratory-creeking on Little Turtle Creek, to an ambitious multi-day trip covering the entirety of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway’s 92 miles, to the Wild Rivers of the Pine and Popple, and even paddling a piece of Wisconsin’s northeastern border, this year’s Best Paddle list stretched our geography and skill level like no other.
Swag Makes The Site Go ‘Round
Because we were in need of some custom masks (and because two swag shops are clearly not enough) we created a new Threadless Shop. We’re continuing to service our Spreadshirt shop – both of which help support the site – but we had to branch out and we like what we’re wearing so far.
Giving Back The Rest
Thanks in part to paddling gaining popularity while people tried to fill the void with outdoor recreational activities, the site also grew in popularity. Facebook groups sprung up – some doubling in size – and our traffic resulted in a lot of new visitors which increased revenue by way of ads and t-shirt sales. As a result, we were once again able to pay it forward after covering hosting costs which is pretty incredible.
So Long, 2020
While 2020 wasn’t at all what any of us had anticipated or hoped, we want to thank all of you who supported the site in these uncertain times. Thank you to all our friends, family, fans and contributors for sticking together on the water or even just virtually. We’re all looking forward to being back together on the water again soon.
Especially with our friend and fellow Miles Paddler, Jeff (aka Kayak Guru), who is fighting brain cancer. Jeff and his wife Sara can use all the positive energy and support available right now. We’re wishing/hoping/praying/believing the corner will be turned any day now, and that he’ll soon be running rapids with abandon once again.
Though we’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, it’s a really special thing we’ve built here and we’re always surprised by what’s created or comes from it – the good and the bad. But now, probably more than ever, we’re inclined to seize every day because 2020 is proof that we have no idea what tomorrow might bring.
Stay healthy, keep happy and cheers to many more miles in 2021,
Barry, Timothy, Rachel, Trevor, Scotty and the greater Miles Paddled Family