A couple weeks ago my buddy Jess invited me to go stand up paddle boarding (SUPing) with her and my immediate response was “I am SO in!”
I’d never tried SUPing before – considering that I haven’t attempted snow boarding since Jr. High and once spent a week in Australia learning what the spin cycle on a washing machine feels like (aka “learning to surf”) board sports aren’t something I excel at; however, the older I get, the less I care about excelling and the more I care about just having fun, no matter what that might look like, and so: SUP!
In this case, having fun looked like me slowly paddling around Westchester Lagoon on a gloriously sunny morning with a cup of coffee,* Jess, and two Skye Terriers named Hamish and Debbie. As I’m sure you can tell from the photo above, Jess is a pro – her pups run back and forth along the board (they LOVE to SUP) and she never even wobbles; she’s a yoga instructor and makes all the hard balancing poses look easy, but still… SUPing with pups = super impressive!
Jess assured me I wouldn’t fall, and I didn’t – thank goodness, because I still get a little shivery when I think about the lagoon. I’m a Westside girl, and I grew up running and biking around Westchester, but I’ve never played in the water before (probably due to dire warnings about dirty water from parents, teachers, and coaches). When we chose it as the site of my first SUP excursion, I was pretty excited – I thought it would be a good way to see some birds nests and maybe some other little critters.
The birds dive bombed us and the only critters were the terriers.
However, I DID see long, slimy looking vines growing up from the bottom of the lagoon almost to the surface pretty much everywhere we paddled – visions of falling in and being tangled in the vines are STILL giving me shivers, which are compounded by the fact that Jess told me the boards were covered in leeches after our excursion. Ack!!! Shivers upon shivers!!!
Mini post-excursion freak out re: lake vegetation and blood suckers aside (to be fair, the lagoon was peaceful and the perfect place for my first go of it) SUPing was awesome. Jess rents the boards through Drift, which focuses on building a community through outdoor adventure. She also offers sweet guided trips like yoga, camping and hiking in Hope or yoga and SUP in Katchemak Bay. Her trips are for small groups and generally include lodging (with some camping) along with locally sourced meals and snacks and run between $295 – $495.
If you want to rent the boards for yourself, rates are low: $20 for four hours, $30 for eight hours, or $45 for 24 hours. Rentals include the board, leash and paddle, and you need a truck, SUV, hatchbacks, or racks to secure them. Here’s a video about the boards by Surf Alaska: Introducing Bounce Standup Paddleboards to Alaska.
I’m planning to grab them again for a trip out to Jess’s favorite lake in Portage, although I’m not sure I’ll ever be at the level of combining SUP and Pilates (as in, you do Pilates on your board in the middle of Delong Lake) like the Studio One team, but you never know…
And, because I can’t resist their cuteness, I’m closing with one more shot of Hammish and Debbie:
* I’d like to pretend that I’m a casual badass and cruised gracefully while sipping my coffee, but the reality was I brought it with me because it was too hot to sip before we started and I couldn’t bring myself to part with it – halfway around the lagoon I lost enough balance that the cup tipped over and swallowed up a bunch of lagoon water before I rescued it, rendering it undrinkable. And then I had to bring it with me for the rest of the morning so that I could throw it away. At least when I paddled up to shore, a couple dudes complemented me on my coffee carrying coolness – I almost fell in with shock – if only they knew how wrong they were!