2023, the paddling year in review

The Year in Review, Paddling in 2023
No doubt some of you will still be hitting the water in 2023. I think I’m probably done for the year. So I am going ahead and posting this. Feel free to post up whatever you want, whenever you want , once your paddling year has concluded. I always enjoy hearing about your goals, accomplishments and how you log your trips and measure success, even if that means simply relaxing and drifting in nature. I enjoy my share of those days as well as grind it out paddling days. I paddled approximately 648 miles in 93 days for just a bit less than 7 miles per paddling day. At no point during 2023 did my paddling difficulty exceed class III. The stretches of the New and Gauley I paddled were either up or downstream of the poplar class IV and V whitewater runs. My ww trips featured class II and III rapids on the low end most of the time for water levels. My only camping trip out of the boat this year was on the Devils River in Texas. Mostly I camped and traveled in my rv. I’m not hardcore, just someone who is passionate about paddling. For me it just about getting out there, moving and floating around and feeling good in nature.

I took a couple of swims, one early in the season and one late. The first swim was in the beginning of April on a branch of the Potomac. I got stuck in a tight rapid and tried to wiggle off a log below the waterline in a tight small drop .The swim was not fun because it was the first move in the rapid and it was low flow. My last swim was also at low flow on the new river dries which features class III drops with class IV consequences. Fortunately, the swim was not a big deal even though it occurred in November on a river with an abundance of undercuts… I had a drysuit on when both swims happened. I did do some informal intentional roll practice (starting in May and ending in Sept.) when I was on a river or lake with clean water. I did flip once on the upper new messing around and managed a roll. Most of my trips were with others but occasionally I boated alone. Sometimes I would hike the shuttles or simply attain up the river and float back. I paid for some commercial shuttles and also relied on friends and family, and local paddle club members when back home.

Some of the months I didn’t paddle much because I substitute taught to fund my next adventure, or had jury duty, or was off hiking somewhere. In other words, life simply got in the way sometimes.

Almost all my boating miles were in a dagger vanguard kayak but I did boat a few days in my pakayak just to mix things up on some flatwater trips. I track my data by writing down the name of the stream and mileage on a paper calendar. I use a gps for my distances.

Highlights: meeting a lot of good paddling folks, beautiful scenery, and lots of peaceful paddling. Surfing on the upper new was fun as usual, paddling and hanging out with folks from the Mad City Paddlers, paddling with an old WV friend “Pipeline Mike” in the U.P., reconnecting with Pat (PJC) and meeting and paddling with Rich (Rival51) and Tom (TomL).

Paddling by month:
Jan. none
Feb. WV: Birch, Cherry and Gauley Rivers
March none but I went to Canoecopia!
April WV: Back Fork of the Elk, Gauley River, North Fork of South branch of the Potomac, AL: Coosa River, Big Escambia Creek, MS: Jourdan River, LA: Cane bayou
May LA: Fausse Point Water Trails , Buffalo Cove (Gravenburg bayou), TX: Village creek, Watertrail at Sea Rim State Park, Black Creek into Rock Creek, San Marcos River, Guadalupe River, Rio Frio, Devils River, Llamo River, Ratcliff Lake (pond), Caddo Lake, OK: Mountain Fork River., AR: La Fouche River, Mulberry River, MO: Eleven Point River, IL: Lower Cache River
June: KY: Energy Lake, Taylor Cove on Lake Barkley, Green River, Nolin River, WV: New River, IL: Illinois River, Vermillion River, WI: Kickapoo River, Mecan River, Token Creek, Wisconsin R. Dells, Crystal River
July: WI: Waupaca River, Lake Helen, Peshtigo River, Menominee River, MI: Paint River, Escanaba River, Jordan River, Sturgeon River, Betsy River/Grass Lake, St. Joseph River, Paw Paw River, VA: Wolf Creek, WV: Gauley River, New River
August: New River 15x
Sept. New River 5x
Oct. VA: New River, WV: New River
Nov. WV New River
Dec. none

In 2024 I’m looking to paddle in a couple of new to me states. Maybe I’ll shoot for 100 days of paddling and 700 miles. Since I turned 62 in November I can now purchase a lifetime national park/federal pass and start drawing some social security which should lead to less subbing (for extra income to fund travels) and do even more paddling.

                                                                   SYOTR, Tony

I didn’t get much in. Traded my Wilderness in for a fishing Kayak. I wanted to try something new. ( not fishing, ( old hat at that) just the ability to get to areas I could not by foot or larger boat.
Ended up missing the lakes for pleasure so ordered a Turning Point kayak which is still in production.
Hopefully more time on the water next year

Somebody gets to travel a lot, nice.
Looking back I paddled 50 days in my 18x, mostly on my local river and lakes in SE Michigan. High points were two trips to Georgian Bay camping for 10 nights.
Stats: 560 miles averaging a little over 4 mph, now have 2500 miles on the boat. The year is not over for me.

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Had my slowest year in many. First it was the wicked summer heat and then a couple of physical issues.
I’m looking forward to much more water time starting in March.

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Looking forward to late April - early May here, but who’s counting?
Well, actually, I am.

indeed, I’ve got 13 more days to go to finish out the year (365 paddles).
Though I paddled every day, I’m ‘slowing down’, not as many miles as last year (missed the 5000(per year) mark for 1st year since '18). Also had a few months under 400 (first time under 400/mo since June of '19).
Well, at least I have something to shoot for next year (and I’ve got an extra day in '24 to make those miles)


I am also planning to paddle several more times before 2023 ends. I’m off work from the 21st to the 1st, planning to head to Silver River on Thursday to start off the break.

I hit 1000 miles for the year a couple of weeks ago, thanks to training for and completing the Everglades Challenge. My normal yearly distance is around 720-750 miles (I try to paddle at least 60 miles each month) but the last two have been 1000+ due to the EC. It’s been fun to watch my average paddle length increase over the years, from 6-7 miles when I first moved to FL, to 14 miles this year. I generally try to paddle at least 10 miles on every outing unless circumstances don’t allow.

Longest paddle this year (and longest ever) was 42 miles from Wiggins Pass to Panther Key on day 3 of the EC. Besides paddling in Florida I got to paddle in NH in July and in the BVIs in April. Almost made it to the Kiptopeke Symposium but rescheduled to the Keys at the last minute due to bad weather for the symposium.

I am taking a year off from the EC - going to be a checkpoint captain which should be fun. I have a 2 night camping reservation at Dry Tortugas NP in June and will of course be bringing a kayak. NH in July again and then start back training in the fall. I am also hoping to do a couple of weekend getaways to places further than I can drive, especially some of the springs in northern FL.

My paddle trips were pretty evenly split between the Mirage 580 and the Tiderace Xceed, but with almost twice the miles on the Mirage. Plus several paddles each in the Gemini, Stratos (marina kayak) and Tempest (NH kayak).


Thanks Brodie, I didn’t want to go after raisins.:wink:

I think I got in about 200 day paddles in 2023, more than usual because of an exceptionally warm January. So I got all my favorite paddling benefits throughout the year and got to enjoy my Michigan rivers at high, medium and low levels and in every kind of weather. No complaints here!

I have no specific paddling goals for 2024 other than to continue to spend time outside to nurture my mental and physical health. Maybe I’ll try to learn to use a kayak paddle without getting myself drenched or stuck in a bush. I’d also like to bike (off-road) more but when the paddling is good I never seem to follow up on it.


@TomL - raisins is a hard act to follow!

My last trip of the year was an overnight camping trip at one of our local campsites. Overall I did 51 trips in 2023, which is about average for me. I did 14 whitewater, 3 camping (including a week in the Allagash in ME), 1 poling, and had 3 swims, but who’s counting. You can see the full year-end review here:

Or just watch the video:

Happy New Year everyone.


thanks for sharing, video moved well


Nice vid!

Of course, you got some ocean venues in there. A bit of music reflecting the call of the ocean: