It’s that time of year again, when we look back on the year that was and we crunch the analytics to determine the most popular stories of the year at CanoeKayak.com. Here’s our top 10 original stories for 2013 plus our most popular video of the year, as well as the most-clicked gear reviews, skills pieces, and photo-multimedia stories, ranked according to pageviews from you, the reader. — Conor Mihell
|Small Boat, Big Fish
Our “Heavy Mettle” rundown of the top five biggest fish caught from kayaks blew all other stories out of the water. The story was so popular that our partners at GrindTV also hooked into the action.
|Front Lines of the Shutdown
Our series of stories from the front lines of the standoff at the Grand Canyon following October’s federal government shutdown garnered lots of attention. Editor-at-large Eugene Buchanan broke the news and C&K Editor Jeff Moag profiled the boaters who were stymied from accessing America’s iconic whitewater run and those who decided to take matters into their own hands—through negotiation and trespass.
|Pat Keller Goes Huge
Whitewater boater Pat Keller had a big year in 2013. In January, he notched a first descent of Tennessee’s 100-plus-foot Ozone Falls. He also went big on Cane Creek Falls with Hunt Jennings and then recaptured our imagination later this summer when his GoPro camera was rediscovered, yielding a POV account of the Ozone huck. Finally, Keller wrapped up the year by winning the Green Race.
|Ortiz Walks Away from Niagara
Had he run it, Rafa Ortiz would’ve no doubt topped our 2013 list of stories by dropping the Niagara River’s Horseshoe Falls. But instead he decided to trust his gut and walk away. The story still drew plenty of attention and some heated commentary from some of paddling’s biggest names.
|Chattahoochee Water Warriors
Brothers David and Michael Hanson paddled the Chattahoochee River to delve into water rights war on one of the Southeast’s most important waterways, hoping to answer a single contentious question: “Who owns the water?”
|Two Girls and a Tree Named Makeba
The strange and inspiring story of Michigan City, Indiana-based friends Mary Catterlin and Amy Lukas, who paddled and sailed a homemade 11-foot dugout canoe around Lake Michigan’s 1,200-mile perimeter, warmed hearts and resonated with readers.
Katrina Van Wijk’s hard-charging troupe of female boaters were recognized at the 2013 Canoe & Kayak Awards and got lots of exposure on CanoeKayak.com. Van Wijk’s “TiTs Deep” series shed light on women’s growing place in whitewater and inspired a rousing discussion of paddlesports’ battle of the sexes.
|Remembering Shannon Christy
Just before the 2013 Potomac River Festival, local boater Shannon Christy, 23, died on the challenging Great Falls section of the river. And so the 2013 event was an emotional one, recounted and photographed in this first-hand take of the on-water tribute.
|Missing in Tajikistan
When five Americans sent an SOS from their expedition in Tajikistan, the paddling community sprang into action. The story of their dramatic evacuation made for a white-knuckle read on CanoeKayak.com.
Trans-Atlantic kayaker Aleksander Doba embraces the motto, “It’s better to live one day as a lion than a thousand years as a lamb.” And so the 67-year-old Polish sea lion is set to embark on his second crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in three years, a 5,200-mile expedition from Lisbon, Portugal, to Florida.