Google has spoken (or at least its analytics widget has). We tracked the data, looking back at the year that was, and we found the best stories on CanoeKayak.com decided by you, the reader. So here’s our Top 10 Stories of 2011, determined by number of page-views, with a few noted honorable mentions that cracked the Top 25, also listed by number of views.
#1 Doba’s Cross-Atlantic Epic
Readers were blown away by CanoeKayak.com’s exclusive coverage of Polish sea kayaker Aleksander Doba’s 99-day Atlantic Ocean crossing from Senegal, Africa, to the beaches of northeastern Brazil. We delivered breaking stories, the first North American photographs, and an interview with the colorful 65-year-old man himself—all exclusive reporting that was picked up by our media partners at GrindTV/Yahoo! Sports.
Some of the greatest first descents reported from this past year came from kayakers who cashed in rain-swollen hucks on popular, natural tourist attractions that they had been eyeing for years. But not even the recent 90-foot first on Gadsden, Alabama’s famed Noccalula Falls, by Pat Keller, Isaac Levinson and Chris Gragtmans, could top Chris Korbulic’s solo first descent of southern Oregon’s Toketee Falls. Korbulic’s account of the multi-tiered monster ending in a stout 65-footer, and his photo gallery—which was captured by bystanders that Korbulic grabbed after setting up the cameras—topped a list of firsts descents that also included Taylor Roberton’s see-it-to-believe-it 50-50 log grind at the entrance of California’s Yellow Creek, the Noccalula 90-footer and Jared Seiler’s Pennsylvania first on the notorious Powder Hole drop on Wapwallopen Creek.
The paddling community was shocked last December when South African whitewater paddler-explorer Hendri Coetzee was killed by a crocodile on the Lakuga River, a tributary of the Congo River. We brought you breaking news and interviews with the people who knew Coetzee best—the boaters who were with him on his final days in the wilds of Africa.
The December issue of Canoe & Kayak magazine featured first-hand accounts of the floodwaters that swept across the continent in 2011. Our online video extra was a huge hit, providing true multi-media coverage of the “Flood of the Century.”
#5 Darrin Kimbler’s Canoe Trip Across America
Though his mission was ultimately thwarted by high water, our coverage of Darrin Kimbler’s attempt to paddle from the Pacific Northwest to the Florida Keys inspired readers.
#6 Jason Craig
Whitewater wunderkid Jason Craig was the subject of two of our most popular stories—one about the waterfall descent that nearly killed the 17-year-old in April and another about the rain-driven good times in northern California last spring leading up to the accident.
The story of an amazing photograph of a paddler and two humpback whales in Monterey Bay, California, was our seventh most-popular story. Other big wildlife hits (and near-misses) included several shark encounters, and spectacular blue whale footage.
Kayakers Jon Turk and Erik Boomer were nominated for a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year award for their epic first-ever circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island the Canadian high arctic. We brought you the story and Boomer’s amazing photographs in September.
#10 Condit Dam Removal
Whitewater paddlers in the Pacific Northwest looked forward to the removal of the towering Condit Dam on Washington’s White Salmon River in late October. We brought you the story of one of the largest dam removal projects in U.S. history, and what it could mean for boaters.