Lorraine and I attended Canoecopia 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin, the largest paddling show in the world, so I am led to believe. What an awesome setup that Rudebaga Paddling has going there at the Allient Energy Center in Madison, WI.
We were able to get to the show shortly after it opened on Friday night. It was nice going on Friday night as we could get the lay of the land and see speakers with less people, as Saturday is pretty heavily attended. As it turned out, we only went to see one speaker, Timothy Bauer with milespaddled.com.
Timothy covered three primary areas in Wisconsin that he described as three separate three-day paddles. The first was the Bois Brule River in northern Wisconsin and the third was the East Branch of the Pecatonica River, both looking like very interesting paddles to do some time. Not meaning to overlook the greatness of these two bodies of water, but our main purpose was to hear him talk about the Black River Falls area, where he focused on the Black River, along with Hall's, Morrison and Robinson Creeks, only leaving out Wedges Creek in his discussion. It was a very nice presentation, and he mentioned that he may make the paddling waters around Black River Falls the entire topic of next year, which would be really cool.
I have followed the milespaddled.com guys for some time now. Timothy and Barry do a remarkable job in documenting various kayak trips primarily focused on waters in the Driftless Area, and I guess I think it is pretty cool that they think some of the best kayaking is on Hall's Creek, along with some of the other creeks and rivers surrounding Black River Falls. We were able to meet and talk with Timothy a bit later, and it was nice to chat with him a bit. I will also plug his book here that I purchased a few weeks back, where he describes sixty kayak trips within 60 miles of Madison. While this book does not reach to our neck of Wisconsin (we are 132 miles from Madison), since we live in northwest Illinois many of these waters are well within our reach.
We need to acquire more kayaks for the business, and thought it might be prudent to get to a show like this where we can talk with people about the waters we are navigating to make the best decisions on what kayaks to purchase. We already have two Perception Sound kayaks and they do well, but wanted to expand our thinking about the best kayaks for Hall's Creek, which is, at times, running a bit scrapey, as are the other waterways in the area when the water runs low.
We settled on Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 and Aspire 105. We really liked just about everything about these kayaks, with the only downside being that they don't have a drain plug or decent paddle holder. Guess that means we should never tip our kayak to get water in it, right?
In any case, once we can get them on the water we'll give a review of them on our blog.
We were able to get many of the ancillary items at the show also, and were able to get out of there by mid-afternoon, feeling pretty good about our trip. Even though we had a minor issue with our kayak order, the people at Rudabega were awesome, and we highly recommend Canoecopia 2019. Paddling people seem to all be dialed into the mental well-being of the quiet sports such as paddling, and most seem to share our sense of environmental fortitude and appreciation for what we have, along with disappointment in what is being lost, such as the probable installation of a frack sand load-out rail spur coming within 300 feet of Hall's Creek, and most likely decimating the one remaining trout stream feeding Hall's, Un-named Creek 18-10. Sorry to leave this post on a down note, but to ignore it does not make it better.