Last weekend I walked on water.
No, it wasn’t a religious experience. Actually, it kind of was, in the nature-as-divine sense. But, practically speaking, my walking on water was the manifestation of me jumping on the bandwagon that’s been sweeping mountain towns across the country: Stand Up Paddleboarding.
Known as SUP, the sport looks like a hybrid of surfing and canoeing. Riders stand atop a sturdy board with a small fin on its underside. They push off the shore, carefully climb to their feet, and then paddle away.
Most people make it look easy. I didn’t. I’ve got terrible balance and little experience standing on floating things, and as soon as I attempted to crawl from knees to feet, the board slipped out from under me and I tumbled backward into the drink.
But I got back up and on the board. With the help of a friend I made it to my feet, and he pushed me into the lake. The board felt tippy until I relaxed my knees and dropped into an athletic position. Pretend you’re skiing moguls, I told myself. It helped.
Standing and afloat, I began paddling. And that’s when the fun began. With very little effort I pushed and dragged and turned myself all over the lake’s surface. I sped up. I slowed down. I got bold and lifted one foot while paddling. Then I tried a small hop. Miraculously I didn’t fall off, but I did give myself a scare, so I calmed down.
Last month I wrote about all the awesome water activities there are in and around the Vail Resorts in Colorado, but as I wrote it, I didn’t know how much I would love SUP.
I had no idea it would feel sublime to hover right at the water’s surface. I couldn’t have imagined the pleasure I got in actively directing my movement. Unlike rafting, when the boat really just falls in line with the river’s current and the expert guide keeps you from banging into rocks or getting sucked into holes, in SUP it is all you. You’re in charge of where you go, whether you fall, how much speed you have.
Most of all it was a yin and yang of chilling out and exercising. My friends and I loafed on the water’s surface for hours. Occasionally we would paddle hard, get our heart rate up, and feel the burn in our muscles. Other times we maneuvered a dog onto our boards and pretended we were Jack Johnson being cool like that in Hawaii.
I can’t wait to do it again. Fortunately there are a number of shops in Summit and Eagle counties that rent Stand Up Paddleboard.
In Eagle, check out Alpine Quest Sports.
In Summit County, Kodi Rafting rents SUPs and offers lessons, as does Frisco’s Ten Mile Creek Kayak.
Take my word—this is a trend you want to jump on. No matter how much you love your other adrenaline fix, be it rock climbing or kayaking, mountain biking or mountaineering, anyone who loves the mountains will appreciate this unique sport.