Editors’ Picks: Canoe & Kayak’s Top Stories of 2016

C&K’s editors and contributors pick their favorite stories from the past year

While the new year is here, since we outlined your favorite stories of the past year in the recent Reader's Picks rundown of our Top 10 Stories of 2016, we put the question to the editors and contributors behind the slate of stories rolled out on CanoeKayak.com 365 days of this last year: What were the stories that mattered to you most? Was there something that exceeded your click-ey expectations, something that struck an emotional chord, or perhaps something that our readers might have missed in the daily barrage of media battling for their attention? Something that deserves a second look.


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CONTRIBUTING EDITOR JOE POTOCZAK:
There are individuals whom without hesitation are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in the fight for the free-flowing rivers of their communities – rivers that run through the same veins in which their blood flows. The profile of Zacarias Cumbia C'hamik, and the ongoing struggles of the Rio Maranon, shines a light on such an individual and the river for which some have already given their life to save. Runner-up has to be the extended interview with trans-Atlantic kayaker Aleksander Doba. No paddler today so fully embodies the spirit of adventure as Doba. This conversation illustrates why.


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CONTRIBUTING EDITOR CHARLI KERNS:
Having seen this sacred place twice now, The Confluence struck a deep chord with me, just as paddling the Grand Canyon did for many of my friends.


Photo by Viki Carpenter
Photo by Viki Carpenter

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR NATALIE WARREN:
The things that draw me in are usually related to women on adventures, races, expedition updates, and if there is a greater environmental/therapeutic/big picture idea tied to paddling. Obviously given my series on North America's (Next) Best Paddling Towns, I like articles that are accessible to a broad audience beyond the hardcore group of whitewater paddlers. From an outreach standpoint, it makes watercraft adventures seem more doable to readers, who will hopefully be inspired to go on a similar adventure!


Photo Erik Boomer
Photo Erik Boomer

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER DAVID JACKSON:
Anything related to Boomer. I'm always interested in what he's doing, like that Baffin Island double-date. He and Sarah are two epic humans and you know they are genuine. Stepping back you realize with some people's clout that certain things aren't as authentic on a sponsored trip, but then there are people like Boomer and Sarah, and people like Mike Ranta out there, just going to do things that are wild, and that's so good to see when everything seems driven by the sponsor dollar.


Paul Tefft catches some snow yak air. Photo courtesy Biege Jones/Sport Obermeyer
Paul Tefft catches some snow yak air. Photo courtesy Biege Jones/Sport Obermeyer

EDITOR-AT-LARGE EUGENE BUCHANAN:
How about the behind-the-scenes look at one of the coolest non-water kayak vids you'll see? Kids: Don't try this at home; there's not a whole lot of control.


World-record claimant Marcin Gienieczko on the Amazon, 2015. Photo via Facebook
World-record claimant Marcin Gienieczko on the Amazon, 2015. Photo via Facebook

EDITOR-AT-LARGE CONOR MIHELL:
I would say Jeff Moag‘s Guinness expose was the most significant story of the year: great reporting on an interesting topic. Finally some rich context added to the “longest trip” debate.


Scenes from Standing Rock , Cannonball, North Dakota. Saturday December 3, 2016. Photo/David Jackson
Scenes from Standing Rock , Cannonball, North Dakota. Saturday December 3, 2016. Photo/David Jackson
BWCAW entrance near Missing Link Lake.
BWCAW entrance near Missing Link Lake.

PHOTO EDITOR AARON SCHMIDT:
Couple of my faves would be Zak and Will Stauffer-Norris's piece The Confluence, our Healing Waters video/digital feature, our look at Georgia's newest whitewater park, Caitlin Looby’s recent story on the Boundary Waters, Kevin McHugh's immersive outrigger journey in Masters of Molokai, David Jackson’s photo-journalism from the Standing Rock protests, and Erik Boomer's two-part photo essay Into the Tian Shan. But really, as a photo editor I get the first view at so many great pictures from the paddling community and unfortunately there just isn’t enough print space to give all these great photographers their due. So starting the Photo of the Day program is in part, for me, a way to give back and let some of these forgotten moments be seen by a greater audience, plus each featured photographer gets a nod with a bio and links to their websites and Instagram handles. I encourage you to check out the #CKPOD program and learn about the hard-working cadre of photographers that brings C&K to life.


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ONLINE EDITOR ZAK PODMORE:
I'm proud to share rich, sensory-stimulating digital features that combine great writing with photos and video that jumps off the screen. Gotta give a plug to our recent Healing Waters package, in which Dave Shively captures the struggles of veterans–and the redemptive power of paddling.


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EDITOR DAVE SHIVELY:
Though it was a few days shy of the 2016 cutoff, I have to go with Christian Knight's moving piece on how, and why, he has raised his daughter to paddle. It struck a real chord as my wife and I had a daughter of our own seven months ago. I've gotten the chance to work and paddle with Christian over the years and if I can be half the dad (or half the kayaker, for that matter) that he is, I'll have accomplished something.


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