We’ve received many questions throughout the years and figured it was time to collect the common ones and give them a home.
Who is Miles Paddled anyway?
We’re a just a bunch of fans of paddling, who started out as friends and then the blog made us new friends and now we’re all just friends in paddling. As far as the main authors? It’s just two guys, Barry and Timothy, both of us in Madison, Wisconsin.
Before you quit your day jobs and do this for a living, what is it that you guys actually do for a living?
Neither of us know what the other does, we just want to know if the other can go kayaking this weekend.
What’s with the Star Rating?
From day one, the star rating was something we found useful as a “quick-glance” indicator of how well we liked a paddle.
Generally speaking, 5 stars indicates the trip is spectacular in every sense – great water, surroundings, wildlife, 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, the weather and mother nature changes the course of rivers and creeks. Every paddling 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 spot-on true: you never paddle the same river twice. Not only do conditions change but our perceptions do as well. Sometimes our first exposure to a place is underappreciated but something’s different the second time and we fall in love with a place. Then again, sometimes our second exposure doesn’t match up to that first time (saying nothing of the nostalgia factor). Doing multiple reports also teaches us about water levels and how a familiar stream feels when it’s low, high or ideal. (See question below on “water levels.”)
Why Trip Reports vs. a Guide?
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.
There are trips that Timothy did before discovering the interwebs, as well as a lot of new material included in his forthcoming paddling guidebook that is not currently on the site (yet). So if we know of a stretch up- or downstream from the specific area we’re covering, we’ll mention it. If we don’t, we won’t. We’re not speculators either.
What’s this about Timothy’s book? Is it out? How can I buy it?
In spite of Timothy being allergic to self-promotion, we’re still going to get the word out about his book. The long and the short of it is a paddling guidebook featuring 60 individual trips within 60 miles of Madison.
Timothy reached out to one publisher in the spring of 2014 and pitched the idea. The good news is it was accepted – much to his surprise and delight. The “bad” news was it then meant he had to research and write a whole book between that summer and the following spring of 2015 to meet deadline – not to mention that pesky down time called winter in Wisconsin. But he’s not called “the Fanatic” for nothing.
We’re happy to say that the book, Canoeing & Kayaking South Central Wisconsin, finally saw the light of day on August 15, 2016 and is available on Amazon.com.
What boats do you recommend?
We can only really recommend the boats in our fleet. That consists of a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140, Perception Expression 145, Necky Manitou 13 (all three are great for touring) and two Pyranha Fusions (great for creeking and whitewater). The most recent addition is a Perception Expression 115 (which is great for touring and creeking). Also in the arsenal are a 15’ solo Old Town canoe that’s almost as old as Timothy and an Old Town Discovery 174 that is as elegant as a soccer mom’s minivan (but equally practical and accommodating). Unless we’re in the market for a new boat, we rarely keep up on the latest and greatest.
How do you get back to your car?
If we don’t car shuttle (wherein, 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.
For example, if we drive to the takeout first because it’s closer relative the drive to the river from home, then we’ll drop off a bike there, lock it up, drive to the put-in and paddle down to the bike at the takeout. Then unlock the bike, lock the boat and pedal back to the car. This is preferable in that we do these trips to paddle, not pedal; the bicycling is just a means to that end.
And in the event that we’re starting our trip late, if we had to choose between paddling or pedaling in the dark, we’d opt for the latter (except for that one time after paddling the Peshtigo – man, that was awful!). Besides, after sitting in a boat for 2-5 hours, it’s nice to use one’s legs afterward. The other benefit to bike-shuttling after paddling is if you have to bail on a trip shortly after putting in, either because the weather turns for the worse or there are just too many obstructions in the river or because you remembered that today is your anniversary, then you can paddle back to the car, rather than get back on your bike and do two shuttles and no paddling.
That said, if your drive to the river destination takes you to the put-in first, it just makes more sense to drop off your boat and gear then and there, drive to the takeout, leave your car there, bike back up to the put-in, lock up your bike, paddle down to your car, etc. Otherwise you drive an extra trip unnecessarily – which, given how much a carbon footprint paddling already has with respect to driving to these destinations, we strive to avoid.
Do you lock your kayak up and if so, where?
This is usually the followup question to bike-shuttles. We each have extra long cable locks and attach them differently to our boats. 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. The only thing we’ve ever had stolen throughout the years is a water bottle (about which Timothy is still a little miffed, mostly out of disbelief – “who steals water bottles?!?”). Update (12.23.15): We did have a boat stolen – but it wasn’t locked up. And it was an emotionally disturbing ordeal.
Can you recommend any places to canoe-camp?
The Lower Wisconsin River is of course, a gem, that offers camping on islands and sandbars between Prairie du Sac and the Mississippi river.
Other options with first-come, first-served camping are the Lower Black River, the Bois-Brule, the Brule River on the Wisconsin side (Michigan being the other) within the National Forest, the Chippewa River, the Flambeau, the Kickapoo, the Lemonweir (in between the interstate and the Wisconsin River), the Manitowish, the Mississippi, the Namekagon, the Oconto, the Peshtigo*, the Pine* and Popple* in Forest County, and the Upper St. Croix. Both the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage in Iron County and the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest in Vilas and Oneida Counties offer paddle-only sites (they’re like Wisconsin’s smaller version of Sylvania and the Boundary Waters, respectively).
For a sea kayaking-take, some of the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior have primitive campsites. On Lake Michigan there are two state parks one can essentially paddle to (after reserving and checking in): Newport and Rock Island. Similarly, one can paddle to boat-only sites at Buckhorn and Brunett Island State Parks. There are probably other options around the state as well that we simply don’t know about. Know something we don’t? Inform us!
*As long as you are on National Forest land. Some of the land is private property, which should be posted.
What is your season?
One of us has a season, the other paddles all year long.
Do you paddle in winter?
Timothy does and he swears it doesn’t suck. As long as you drink your beer before it freezes, I guess.
What do you wear for cold-weather paddling?
At the risk of shilling product endorsements (at least not until the first royalty check clears in the bank) here’s what Timothy generally wears for cold water paddling:
Feet: Waterproof boots with one or two pairs of thick-ass wool socks.
Legs: A good base layer underneath a pair of solid denim pants.
Torso: Base layer, a sweater or two and a waterproof (or at least water-repellant) jacket.
Head: Knit cap (mostly for the ears).
Hands: Fleece mittens inside neoprene mittens.
If there’s a likelihood of getting wet (rapids, for example), then the outfit would be totally different and consist of the following:
Feet: Neoprene boots and neoprene socks.
Legs: Neoprene pants (either alone or underneath water-repellant ski pants).
Torso: Base layers under a neoprene jacket.
Head: Neoprene “dome cap.”
Hands: Fleece mittens inside neoprene mittens.
(You might say the secret is neoprene.)
For a great quick-start guide to winter paddling, check out this video.
Will you review my/our gear?
We review gear as long as we’re able to actually try/test it out.
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!
Can I contribute?
Yes! We’re happy to walk you through the format and must-haves for writing a trip report. Contact us and let’s get writing.
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 do a la guinea pig in a lab or canary in a coalmine, then let’s talk.
What’s your favorite place to paddle?
Our single-favorite place to paddle is somewhere we’ve never been. Seriously, it’s completely true. Nothing so thrills us as the sense of adventure and discovery.
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 water levels.
Can I get a sticker?
Sure, email us, plead your case and wait idly by your mailbox. All we ask is that you send us a picture of it in return.
Can I paddle with you?
Absolutely. Drop us a line.