As if I needed just one more reason to play in the mountains, I’ve found it.
When Heather from Alpine SUP invited me along to Rocky Mountain National Park to paddle some of the popular lakes in that area, I was beyond excited! I spent a lot of time on the water as a kiddo. I’d take my grandpa’s windsurfing boards out, without the sail, and paddle around on the bay. I figured it would feel similar to do that — just add 9,000′ in elevation, a slight change of scenery, and much colder water.
I was hoping that the first time I tried SUP it would be on a pretty mountain lake. This would surpass my expectations. I’m pretty sure Heather has taken the “pretty mountain lake” concept to the next level. She’s hiking close to 50 pounds of SUP gear and hiking/camping gear to high alpine lakes around Colorado.
Heather’s paddle board bag isn’t your typical hiking backpack either. SUPing alpine lakes hasn’t quite taken off, yet. The packs are made to get you from car to the nearest shoreline or lake, not for hiking long distance, especially uphill. Even with the handmade hip belt that Heather sewed on, the pack is still heavy and awkward.
We arrived late afternoon in Rocky Mountain National Park. The park rangers seemed okay with it, but asked us not to go in Bear Lake. We hiked up to the furthest lake first, Emerald Lake. I’ve never seen an alpine lake that wasn’t stunning, and Emerald’s views didn’t disappoint. Pretty quickly we could tell a storm was blowing in. Heather, myself, and their friend Adam took a quick paddle before we heard the first boom of thunder. After quickly deflating the board we hid under an overhanging boulder to wait out the storm.
We passed up Dream Lake (which would be an excellent SUP option) and headed for Nymph Lake. Heather offered the first paddle to me. Without impending storm clouds I got to experience just how relaxing paddle boarding could be. If it weren’t for cost, I’d have bought one the next day!
Alpine SUP appeals to me for the same reason climbing does these days. I want to be in the mountains, I want to see new and beautiful places, and I like the little extra challenge of getting there.