Get Out There
(page 5 of 7)
SUP AROUND THE VALLEY
Glistening water. Bright sun. Cool Idaho air. Blue skies and towering mountains. This is the idyllic alpine scene each summer at Redfish Lake.
Boats zip around, pulling waterskiers and wakeboarders. An occasional sailboat or fleet of rented paddleboats bob about. There are canoes, campers, anglers and surfboards … surfboards? Yes, surfboards. Stand-up paddleboards, to be exact. The ocean-bred sport has caught on in our beloved mountain state.
“Stand up paddling has definitely taken hold in Idaho and all over the world in land-locked locations,” explains Mike Fox, who owns paddleboard maker, Boardworks, in Oceanside, California, and spends time paddling in the Gem State. “At first you scratch your head thinking, how could this be? But the sport lends itself very well to inland environments. It really is a wonderful alternative to canoeing and kayaking, and also offers the ability to wake surf and fish off the boards.”
Jim Smith owns Stand Up and Paddle Idaho, a Boise-based paddleboard dealer and school that, along with Idaho River Sports, offers lessons to people of all ages, sizes and abilities.
Smith explains that, for some, paddleboarding just comes naturally, “Like so many other people who grew up surfing or near the water, the desire to get out in the water has never left me even though I live in Idaho.”
Smith says there are few main attractions to the sport. It offers an intense core workout, similar to Pilates, with quite a bit of cardio as well. But he really just enjoys the ability to peacefully cruise around the water on his own time, no motor and no rush. “The thing about it is that because you are standing you get a different perspective of the water. You are looking down on it with new eyes,” he says.
Legend has it that stand up paddleboarding began in the 1960s when tourists wanted pictures of themselves learning to surf. Beach boys would follow them out to take photos while standing on their longboards, using their outrigger canoe paddles for stability.
Casey Schaefer, from Backwoods Mountain Sports in Ketchum, says that paddleboarding has become one of the fastest growing sports in Idaho and that their rental packages are sold out every summer weekend by folks heading up to Redfish, Alturas and Pettit. She even says that inflatable longboards for use on river trips have been gaining popularity as well.
-photo by Eric Kiel