I’m always game to try a new activity outdoors. Two biggies on my list are paddleboarding and snowshoeing. Today I got to try stand up paddleboarding. It was…different than I expected. Not that it wasn’t a ton of fun, it was just different.
I went with a friend to the only place in town that rents stand up paddleboards, heretofore known as SUP. (See, I’m using the lingo already). Fort Wayne Outfitters is full of extremely helpful staff. Several staff members gave us insight as to what route would be good for beginners as well as some tips about the low water level. The SUPs were hauled down to the put in point, which is located on the St. Mary’s River directly in front of the store. It must be mentioned here that the store is really special. It is located inside of the old Cass Street train depot and is beyond quaint. It is also stocked with a nice variety of unique, quality watersport and active apparel.
Another staff member helped us get our life jackets on and showed us paddle strokes. She also got us started and standing on our crafts. This is when I first felt that it was going to be a different experience than I expected. Those things are WOBBLY! Well, it is actually probably ME who is wobbly, but it definitely made me question my core strength. My friend, who is lighter, didn’t seem to have as much of a wobble while on her SUP. I’m chalking that up to the fact that I’m middle-aged and she is not. :)
We paddled a few strokes and got ourselves oriented a bit. The best tip for starting out was to look ahead, not down at our feet. Once we did this, we both felt a little bit more relaxed. Right away, my friend glided over something that gave her a jolt because it snagged a bit on the single fin that is on the underside of the SUP. She screamed and we both got a little laugh about it.
Seven minutes later, we came to a bridge. We could see some stones under the murky water, so we knew we needed to maneuver around them. However, one of those stones reached up and like the black arm of death, grabbed the fin of my SUP and flung me off of it into the underwater rocks. I went head first into about only two feet of water. I have never been so soaked in so little water. Not to mention that I banged up my right arm and leg pretty badly, as seen in the photo. Nine minutes into the trip and I already had blood streaming down my leg. I kept telling myself that it was nothing, but whenever something happens to me like that and I hit cold water, it makes me feel shaky for about fifteen minutes.
While laughing at me, my friend also hit a similar pile of rocks and we were both in the drink. We developed a severe case of the giggles. You know, the kind where you can’t move because you are laughing so hard? We composed ourselves and tried to figure out how to get back on the board without losing our balance. I watched a YouTube video on that very topic right before I left the house, so I knew that you had to start out kneeling, then stand up. Voila—it worked!
We paddled down to the confluence of Fort Wayne’s much mentioned three rivers: The Maumee, The St. Mary’s and the St. Joseph. I’ve always wanted to see Fort Wayne from this vantage point, especially since this is near the spot where the original fort stood. It was also our turnaround point.
We paddled back to the Fort Wayne Outfitters pier, which was upstream so it was a bit more work. Upon arriving, we had to figure out how to dismount ( just sidle up to the pier and step off, but gently so you don’t push your SUP away and back into the river without you on board).
All in all, the trip was a lot of fun. We were gone about 1 ½ hours for a cost of about $25 each. It was a great experience. I might try it again, but at this point, I’d choose my beloved kayak over the SUP.