While wearing a wetsuit makes me feel (and look) like a stuffed sausage, it was quite necessary for my newest adventure. I went standup paddleboard surfing with Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center, and I’m in love. I surfed for nearly three hours in the “Scout Wave” in Salida. My guide, Grant Sigler, is fantastic. He was super encouraging and knowledgeable. We laughed, we high-fived, we made the “surfs up” – or is it the hang ten? – sign. Either way, we river’d hard.
We started with a belly surf through the wave. It was grand. We paddled for an eddy on the other side of the wave; Grant wanted to be sure I could catch an eddy on a SUP. Then we went through the wave with just our bodies. Also delightful. Grant told me that would be the hardest part of the day. I proved that wrong immediately.
My first attempt into the wave spit me out and rolled me aggressively. Water blasted into my ears and threw off my equilibrium. I stood on the river bank for a while trying to drain the water from my right ear. It was quite painful. Since childhood, my ears do not drain well on their own. This is a fact I largely forgot because as an adult I rarely go under water. I called my husband and he brought me some ear plugs. It saved the day. I don’t think I would’ve returned to the river without them.
Before we got in the river, Grant told me the goal of the day was to stand up in the wave. I thought, duh? But after getting washed out of the wave – repeatedly – I thought, maybe I need to set my sights a little lower.
RMOC owner Brandon Slate came down for a surf session with his family in tow on the riverbank. It grew from a private lesson to a surf party real quick. A friend of Brandon’s joined in and Josh Bechtel saw us in the wave, went home and got his board. Having other, much more experienced SUPers to watch helped motivate me to keep trying.
After many attempts I actually surfed – on my belly – in the wave. It was an amazing feeling. Like nature-defying. I was face to face with a wave. I was riding a wave backward – sorta – and I liked it.
Once I successfully surfed, I was hooked. I was able to get up on my knees once, which felt like quite the achievement. But I wanted to stand up. My guides, Grant and Shannon, had to return to RMOC. I stayed back with Brandon and his family to get a few more rides in.
Finally, I did it. I stood up. Unfortunately, I got so excited that I raised my arms in celebration and immediately lost my balance. I tried a dozen more times after that but never stood again. I knew it was time to quit when I missed the eddy twice.
I knew I’d enjoy this adventure, but I did not imagine that I would be successful on my first time out. I’m pretty proud of myself. I’ve been a longtime lover of boogie boarding, and to surf an inflated board on a never-ending wave is quite thrilling. I totally get what all the hype is about. SUP, you’ve won my heart.