Alpine SUP

Five years ago I was living in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, enjoying my mojitos and crystal clear beach water almost every weekend. Ft. Lauderdale beach was essentially my backyard. I LIVED for the water and tried every water sport, from lobster diving to wakeboarding.

They were all great, but the one thing that kept me coming back for more was stand up paddleboarding (SUP). If you’ve never tried paddleboarding, I recommend you start now. SUP offers a fun, relaxing way to play on the water and delivers a full body workout, no matter the age or physical ability.

Now, fast forward to summer of 2013. I quit my job, packed anything and everything that could fit into my little Subaru, and headed west, en route to Colorado. Colorado is by far the best place I’ve ever set foot on. The Rocky Mountains, endless hiking, beautiful weather…the list goes on and on, but the only thing it lacked for me was water.

After exploring different mountain ranges and hiking above tree line once settling into my life here, I kept coming across beautiful, untouched alpine lakes. With my history of water sports, I was longing for some sort of aquatic sport. I decided that I loved visiting these alpine lakes as well as paddleboarding… So why not join the two?

My first thought was “how am I going to transport a 40 pound paddleboard to an Alpine lake?” I knew regular SUPs (stand up paddleboards) were not going to cut it; so, after many hours of research, I came across a Kickstarter (global campaign platform) from Blue Planet Surf. They were producing a line of inflatable stand up paddleboards that were portable, durable, and fun. I was sold! Soon after, my board was delivered and the excitement began.

Now that I had the gear, it was time to decide which lakes I would hike and how far I wanted to travel (keep in mind the board and accessories weigh roughly 44 lbs with an awkwardly oversized pack, to which I eventually added a hip belt to balance out the weight).

While hiking, I had to keep my distance restricted to 3-8 miles to compensate for the weight on my back. When all was said and done, I hiked through some amazing places and paddled where no one else has ever paddled. From 8,000 feet to over 12,000 feet, my board and I conquered some really cool Colorado lakes.

Echo Lake

Seated at 10,6000 feet, Echo Lake was my first attempt on the board.

Lake Isabelle

Stunning backdrop with an elevation of 10,868 feet and a 4.2 mile hike.

Emerald Lake

Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, Emerald Lake has an elevation of 10,090 feet, and is a 3.6 mile hike.

Columbine Lake

Nestled in the mountains outside of Ouray with an elevation of 12,693 feet and round trip distance of 7 miles, Columbine Lake was worth every second of pain to have the opportunity to paddle there. This was my favorite!

Twin Lakes

My last paddle of the season, catching the first rays of light at an elevation of 8,563 feet.

Final Thoughts

Alpine SUP was one of the more challenging things I’ve ever done, but at the same time came with so much reward and breathtaking moments that will last me a lifetime. Paddle High!

Do you have any questions for Heather about her Alpine SUP project? Ask away in the “comments” box below!

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Heather is a Pennsylvania native raised near an old coal-mining town. She has been traveling the world since she was 3 months old. Her destination was Germany and the list continued from the great Swiss Alps to the stunning Taj Mahal. In visiting these countries at a younger age – the wilderness, camping, climbing, and skiing was not in the picture, but she knew there was always something missing. It wasn’t until her mid-twenties when she returned back to her of roots of PA that it clicked and everything came full circle. Heather now resides in the grand state of Colorado (which every person should) to take on the mountains and climb every face CO has to offer.

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3 Responses to “Alpine SUP”

  1. Donna October 30, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    You are amazing Heather…..What is your next adventure?……..Can see you are really enjoying life and the great outdoors…….Good luck!

    • Heather
      Heather October 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

      Thanks Donna, that means a lot! My next adventure might be going back to Iceland for 2016 and paddling through glacier lagoon in Jokulsarlon. It would be a dream to paddleboard in that lagoon! 🙂


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