I sometimes wonder if I will know when the time comes to switch from “UBER AEROBICS” to “SIT ‘N BE FIT”, which I see listed on the daily schedule at my gym. I trust someone will tell me before it is too late.
I feel the same way here at the lake in Idaho, where we are vacationing as I did most summers while growing up. Somehow, water skiing seems much more daunting now than it did back when I was a fearless teen. It’s not as if I have much farther to fall than I did all those years ago, but somehow the water is colder, the waves are bigger, the rope pulls harder and the boat goes way faster. Maybe it is time to put on a sensible “cover-up”, big straw hat, and board a slow-moving pontoon drifting across the lake towards the horizon.
But before I throw in my towel–the rage today is a relatively new water sport called “SUP”, or Stand-up Paddle Boarding”. An experienced SUP-PER can make the activity look as easy as sweeping the kitchen floor —but much more fun. Plus, you do not have to go very fast, get too wet, or depend upon anyone else to have a good time on the water. And since no one warned me, I tried SUP-PING the other day. Luckily, I am still here to write about it.
Initially, I announced to a friend, a local here and very outdoorsy type, that I intended to try “Sup-lates”—or pilates on a paddleboard– the next morning. She stared at me as if I had declared I was about to attempt skydiving without a parachute.
“Shouldn’t you try basic paddle boarding first, Nan? Have you seen the young studs who do those crazy contortions on a board?”
Threatened, I took my friend’s advice, cancelled my “Supplates” reservation, and simply rented a paddle board the following day. Not wanting to make a fool of myself or fall into the afore mentioned freezing lake, I cautiously knelt on the board, pushed myself from the sand onto the water, and paddled around behind a small island of trees, out of sight from spectators on the shore. Once hidden, I carefully stood erect, wobbling at first like a dashboard hula dancer.
So far, so good.
I had read some basic guidelines on achieving success at SUP:
l) stand up straight, don’t hunch
2) keep your eyes on the horizon, not your feet
3) lean toward the side you are paddling on
4) keep upper hand on grip, lower on the center of paddle
5) relax—paddle with smooth, downward strokes, and enjoy!
I followed the rules as best I could and found myself gliding along nicely until—out of nowhere
a strong wind suddenly swooped in and began spinning my board in circles as I struggled to remain standing.
A lone woman snuggled low in a sturdy canoe effortlessly skimmed past me hollering “There’s the reason I never tried that craziness. I’ll take sittin down over standin anytime! And yer holdin yer paddle wrong!”
“Thanks” I managed to choke as I my board spun, taking me along for the circular ride.
Not only was the board spinning, it was drifting at the same time, toward a wall of jagged rocks and prickly brush. Instinctively, I pushed my paddle backwards in the water to my right, attempting to stop the board from crashing into the rocks. In doing so I turned the board around and began heading away from shore and safety, the wind behind me. I wondered how long people at the rental yurt would wait before sending out a rescue squad for the nutty woman trying SUP for the first (and last?) time.
Miraculously, the wind died down as quickly as it had whipped up, and I was able to maneuver my board back towards the shore. Once within sight I posed like I was not only relaxed but having a SUPER time with SUP.
As my husband snapped photos from land I proudly smiled, thinking to myself that a comfy pontoon would be soon be drifting out onto tranquil waters, headed towards the setting sun.