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.


Canoecopia 2011: Join Carolyn, Jack, and Jerry Apps in Madison, WI

If you find yourself daydreaming about summer and the upcoming canoe season, you are not alone. In fact, Canoecopia, the World’s Largest Paddlesports Exposition, starts in just three days! This year’s exhibition, held March 11–13, at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI, will feature Fulcrum author Jerry Apps (Campfires and Loon Calls: Travels in the Boundary Waters) on both Friday and Saturday afternoons (Friday, March 11, at 5 pm, and Saturday, March 12, at 3:30 pm). Jerry will share some of his stories (from over 25 years of Boundary Waters experience) and offer canoe camping tips.

This is very exciting news, we know, and really we could end the blog there. But this year there will be two other attendees at the show that need special attention: Fulcrum’s own editor Carolyn Sobczak and designer Jack Lenzo. Both Jack and Carolyn are newbies to Canoecopia, but not to canoeing, and when offered the opportunity to attend the show with Jerry, both jumped at the chance. We caught up with Jack and Carolyn and asked them to share a bit about their own experiences with canoe camping and their preparations for the show this weekend:

Excited to be newbies

JACK : I have this vivid memory of being six and listening to my parents read about recent deaths on the Colorado River. Then they turned to me and asked, “What day do you want to go rafting?” Never, thank you very much!

Two days later and after an hour clinging to the chicken rope, I realized how much fun everyone else was having, and I wanted in. Kind of the story of my life. So how does a chicken transition to river rat? Well, step one was to buy an inflatable kayak. I get the sense that they’re not as cool as I thought they were. But hardcore water folk be damned. I gotta start somewhere. Step two: CANOECOPIA.


(Pictured above: Jack at Canyon Ferry, just outside of Helena, Montana)

Really? I get to go for work? Hell yeah! I’m looking for some intel on beginner rivers out here in the West. (My plans to float the Green through Canyonlands are on hold while they rebuild the roads).

(Pictured above: Washed-out Mineral Bottom Road switchbacks. National Park Service photo by Neal Herbert)

Or maybe some classes that can give me some confidence? So here’s hopin’ that the river pros have some tips for hesitant but excited newbies.

CAROLYN : Jack and I did our first kayak trip at Lake Powell in 2009. A couple months before, we tried out the kayak in a pool, loading it up to see just how much it could handle. I was pretty confident, then, when we headed out from Halls Crossing.

(Pictured above: Jack and Carolyn in the inflatable kayak in Carolyn’s parents’ pool)

But after six hours on the water, I was finally in silent tears—water was sloshing over the sides of our kayak from the three-foot swells caused by motorboats (I guess no one follows the no-wake rules?).

Luckily, we had just rounded one of the steep canyon walls to find the perfect camping spot. Here’s a short clip of where we ended up in Moqui Canyon.

Despite ten minutes of sheer terror when I was convinced we were about to sink, I really enjoyed our trip, and we’ve since tried to get out to whatever reservoir or lake we can find (until we can schedule a river trip). I hope at Canoecopia we’ll get the inside scoop about other great places to paddle!

(Picture above: Carolyn and Jack in Lake Powell, 2009)

Tune in next week when Jack and Carolyn return from the land of Canoecopia!