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Paddle Boarding the River

You know those giant surf boards that people stand and paddle on? Well, they are called stand up paddle boards, also known as SUP boards, and they are tremendously fun.

What? When? Where? Cost?

I recently went on a guided SUP boarding adventure with Jagged Edge.  If you happen to want to go on Tuesday night at 5:30 then you too can go for free. Yes, I did say for FREE! They offer a full length trip, on Tuesday nights for anyone interested.  They provide everything you would need including a board, paddle, life vest, helmet and best off all a great time with friends.  The only effort I had to put forth was to show up and help pump up the board!

The Launch 

Once everyone was fitted with the right equipment, we loaded our boards onto trucks and drove to Shandoka Parking Lot on the Southwest corner of town.  Despite the cloudy afternoon, the number of people who showed up outnumbered the boards available, so a few people had to double-up on the wider boards. Thankfully I got my own. We carried our boards down to the river, which I am pretty sure I looked ridiculous, because those things are VERY awkward to carry. Anyway, we launched one board at a time and were off!

The Ride

I started on my knees to get used to the board, but having already tried SUPing previously on a lake it didn’t take long for me to stand upright. Not to say that the lake and the river were the same by any means, but I found my balance soon enough. When I heard that I would be paddling on a river, I was a little nervous at first, because I imagined white water rafting sort of conditions. Fortunately, I had over exaggerated the situation and while the river was pretty calm, there were a few rougher parts which definitely added to the excitement.  Also, in areas where the river ran shallow I had to avoid getting my fins caught which was a bit challenging.  After the first 10 minutes, I felt accomplished enough to give myself a B+!

The Struggles 

Ok, so that B+ rating may have been a bit premature. Don’t get me wrong I had a blast, but there were some… incidents. You would think that the longer a person rode the more balance they would achieve and the less likely they would be to fall, but that was not the case for me. The first obstacle was at least a hundred foot water fall that I had to ride over! Ok, yes, that was an exaggeration but traveling over a few rocks even for just a few feet was scary at the time. Remember I was standing at the time and basically fell to my knees, yet I remained on my board avoiding any real injury. I confess it did hurt a tad. But from that point on, each fall got a little bit worse. I fell to my stomach, then to my neck, and finally a full submersion into the freezing cold water. Sometimes, if you start tipping you just can’t restore balance and PLOP off you go!  I was not seriously injured or anything, just a couple of scrapes and a bloody toe.  But I just want to say that these falls were a small price to pay for a fantastic time giggling and shrieking with my friends and seeing the Valley Floor from a very unique perspective.  

For the Beginners

Now some people may not be comfortable going straight to paddling on a river without any introduction, and that is totally fine. There are a couple places in Telluride where you can just play around and get used to the board. The most popular is Trout Lake on CO-145 near Lizard Head Pass. I love going up there, for a quick trip and a relaxing paddle.  If you don’t want to travel as far, you can also try Elks pond up in Mountain Village!

Aftermath Review

Although I may have fallen a few times, I think that is what made the trip that much more fun, plus it made for a great story. The guides were absolutely amazing and super helpful. I would suggest wearing shoes, I didn’t and getting in and out to the water was very painful. I hope I inspired you to go rent a paddle board, or join Jagged Edge on their Tuesday tours! I really enjoyed it and think anyone else would too!