Common questions this little blog is asked…
Who is Miles Paddled anyway?
Two guys author the majority of the site – Barry and Timothy, both of us in Madison, Wisconsin. Barry, who created the site, keeps things running and ideas ruminating between work, and well, paddling. He’s also the guy you email and talk to on all our social channels. Timothy is the guy constantly paddling and submitting trips, even in the dead of winter. Timothy became a fan, then contributor, and has since released a guidebook.
Basically, we’re just paddling fans who became friends because of the blog which made us new friends along the way, and now we’re all just friends in paddling.
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 change 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 true: you never paddle the same river twice. Not only do conditions change but so do our perceptions. Sometimes our first exposure to a place is underappreciated but something’s different the second time and we fall in love with it. Then again, sometimes our second exposure doesn’t align with 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.
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.
What’s this about Timothy’s guidebook?
The long and the short of it is a paddling guidebook featuring 60 individual trips within 60 miles of Madison. Timothy reached out to a 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.
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.
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 and Necky Manitou 13 (all three are great for touring), a Perception Expression 115 (a versatile vessel in between longer and shorter kayaks), and three crossover kayaks including two Pyranha Fusions and a Dagger Katana (which are great for creeking and whitewater).
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 (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. 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?
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?
Layer up – that’s the key. A good wicking base microfiber polyester shirt underneath “soft” layers like wool and fleece, aka “insulating layers,” and then finally a “hard” shell top like a jacket – all these go a long way to keeping you warm. Or at least not miserably chilly. Also, intentionally wearing your PFD adds a little extra core warmth to your torso, not to mention safety. And if you have a spray skirt, why not wear that too? Not only will it provide another layer to your torso, it’ll also prevent cold air from entering an otherwise open cockpit.
Feet: Waterproof boots with one or two pairs of thick-ass wool socks. Or rubber boot slip-ons over your normal closed-toe shoes.
Legs: A good base layer (or two), wool or fleece, underneath a pair of water-proof or at least resistant pants.
Torso: Base layer of wool or fleece (or both), a sweater or two and a waterproof/water-repellent) 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. The “economy” option is wet suit material. The pricey but bomb-proof alternative is a dry suit, typically made of GoreTex or nylon.
Will you review my/our gear?
We review gear as long as we’re able to actually try/test it out and we only post views of gear we recommend (because anyone can do a bad review – so if it’s no good, it won’t be reviewed).
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 our format and must-haves for writing a trip report. Contact us 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, we don’t post trip reports of any section that has been already documented within the previous 12 months.
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 thrills 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 us, plead your case and wait idly by your mailbox. All we ask is that you send us a picture of it in return.