Living in Colorado, there aren’t many opportunities for water sports. Although, my two favorite have become open water swimming in the Boulder Res (even though the reservoir is often closed due to bacteria) and stand up paddle boarding on Macintosh Lake in Longmont, Colorado.
I purchased my own paddle board a few years ago and have tried paddle boarding at almost all the lakes and reservoirs in the area. Most of the reservoirs have usage fees and a inspection process. They inspect your “water craft” for invasive water organisms. These processes and fees can be a downer and take an extra 20 – 45 mins before you even get your board on the water. The other bummer is that some places allow dogs and some don’t. There are usually rules about life jackets and where you can and can’t paddle.
This leads me to Lake Macintosh. This is a rather large lake that is a no-wake lake and has no fee or inspection process. You can roll up and be in the water as fast as you can carry your board. There are also no restrictions on dogs so Koa reluctantly joins me on occasion. This lake is not officially monitored so we usually just put our life jackets on the front of our boards just in case we need them.
Most people think that falling in the water while paddle boarding is a normal activity…I have never fallen off my board unless I wanted to. Most of the time I wear a swim suit under normal clothes and it ends up that only my feet get wet. The boards are big and stable enough that you have to be pretty off balance to fall off of your board.
My most recent favorite activity is a sunset paddle with my friend Kelly. We’ll bring a few bottles of wine, some snacks. Then we’ll paddle out to the middle of the lake, have a seat and float on the water waiting for the usually epic sunset behind Longs Peak while we catch up and gossip.
Honestly, from the lake you have this beautiful uninterrupted view of Longs Peak and I’ve never been disappointed in a Colorado sunset. Usually there are very few people on the lake (if any) paddling, kayaking or fishing. The neighborhood is super quiet and it always feels like we have the lake to ourselves.
We’ve gotten pretty good at our wine/snack balancing on the paddle boards, now we just have to figure out how to attach our boards together so when our dogs start going crazy we don’t loose any precious wine. The best solution would also be some sort of necklace that could hold our wine while we paddle, we don’t like wasting anytime.
If you don’t have a board, craigslist is a great place to start to see if you like the sport. You can usually find someone who bought a fancy board and then decided they didn’t like it or didn’t go often enough. The other option that is fairly inexpensive are the inflatable paddle boards. My friend Kelly has an inflatable, it is fun to watch her sweat while she’s inflating her board…but I’m sure she gets an equal laugh at me as I try to man-handle my board from the top of my car to the water. There are pros and cons of each type of board (mine is an epoxy board, more like a traditional surf board). My advice is to also invest in a carbon paddle if you do end up paddling on a regular basis. These are super nice and lightweight. You can rent boards easily at most lakes and reservoirs, it’s usually about $50/4 hours, which is a nice option if you’ve never tried and want to see what the fuss is all about.
Next on our list is to take a few SUP yoga classes so we can refine our yoga poses. There seem to be lots of options in the area for this, we just haven’t been able to synch our schedules. This will happen before the end of the summer — there is no doubt.