Canoecopia 2011 Recap

Canoecopia 2011 has come and gone, and from what we’ve heard, it was a smashing success. Jack and Carolyn made it back to Colorado safe and sound after a busy weekend in Wisconsin, and we caught up with them to get their thoughts on attending the world’s largest paddlesports exposition. Read on to learn about the Last River Rat, yoga for paddlers, and a really cool sofa.

Carolyn: I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect at Canoecopia. What I found was people who not only love paddling, but who are also interested in preserving our natural world and the spiritual experiences we have out in it. Here are some of the highlights of my weekend at the show.

Beer. At what other tradeshow can you walk the floor with beer in hand?

Campfires and Loon Calls. Fulcrum’s own Jerry Apps gave an outstanding talk (twice!) on the magic of the Boundary Waters. Jerry is such a treat to hear, with hilarious stories that just roll off his tongue. He has a lot of events this month and in early April, so be sure to get yourself to one of them!

Yoga for Kayaking. World-class paddler and yoga instructor Anna Levesque of Girls At Play taught a yoga class on Saturday morning. I’ve been wanting to try yoga, and this class made it all the more relevant for me. What a great time-out from the hectic show floor and grueling presentation schedule!

Cliffs, Canyon, and Canoes: Adventures in America’s Southwest. Don Halloran showed some great historical photos and shared paddling stories of my favorite recreation place—southern Utah. I’d love to see more presentations on and vendors promoting the West at next year’s Canoecopia. There’s so much to do out here. I love Chicago, but it’s never occurred to me to kayak while I’m there—what a brilliant idea! We stopped by their booth and found out about all sorts of tours they do, six of them in all, including stand-up paddling (so hot right now). I’ll be signing up for the Fireworks Paddle the next time I’m in town.

Mississippi: Tales of the Last River Rat. Wow. Just wow. Kenny Salwey spent much of his life in the backwaters of the Mississippi, living a disappearing way of life. If you can track it down, check out the BBC documentary about Salwey, based on a couple of his books. During his presentation, he brought tears to my eyes, and the packed room gave him a standing ovation. A fantastic storyteller and a dedicated environmental educator, Salwey is a true kindred spirit.

This sofa. Not only can it seat all your friends, it has its own magazine rack at each end.

Jack: I came to Canoecopia worried about how I’d stack up to the folks my age with a head start in paddling. Would I feel overwhelmed by all the superfit, superinformed thirty-somethings who grew up on the water? It turned out that I hardly noticed them. (Except for this guy who was staying at our hotel who had forearms the size of my thighs. Damn!) The sessions I enjoyed most were actually those of the elders. My three favorite sessions featured old fogies talking about their adventures. Who would have guessed? If you want to get a flavor for what these old timers have to offer, check out Kenny Salwey. The BBC did a piece on him, so he’s probably the easiest to get some good info on in just a few clicks.

Of course, Canoecopia wasn’t the only thing happening in Madison this past weekend. I’ll leave the wrap-up to Sam, but I thought this photo expressed my personal theme of the weekend.