The Inland Northwest is home to a lot of large bodies of water, and it would be a shame not to enjoy them. What better way to get out on the water than stand-up paddling (SUP)?
SUP developed from ancient Peruvian and African fishing techniques and has been growing rapidly as a water sport in the past couple of years. It combines surfing and canoeing or kayaking: you stand and you paddle.
“It is what you make of it: serenity, relaxation, fitness,” says Kym Murdoch, owner of Coeur d'Alene Paddle Board Co. “It’s very versatile.”
And all you need is a board, a paddle and water. You can SUP on oceans, lakes, rivers and even your neighbor’s koi pond with the right gear. Wind, rain, shine, snow or hail aside, paddleboarding is possible all year round with a dry suit.
SUPers are also adding new twists to traditional SUP with paddleboard fitness. In Coeur d’Alene, Katie Fitzgerald will have you doing the tree pose and the downward dog with paddleboard yoga, starting July 1. Coeur d’Alene Paddle Board Co. will offer an exercise class dubbed Paddle Fit Boot Camp, also beginning July 1.
“It’s a little more athletic than the yoga class,” Murdoch says.
For those looking to SUP, the region has plenty to offer: Coeur d’Alene Paddle Board Co., Mountain Gear, Northwest Paddleboards and ROW Adventures can all get you what you need to get started.
Cross the border into Idaho to hurl yourself off the rocks at Tubbs Hill in downtown Coeur d’Alene. It’s recreational, we promise. Take your pick of rocks along the hiking trail, and if you’re not up to jumping off rocks, take a breather at one of the beaches along the 2.2-mile trail. Don’t forget to stop and check out the view of the City Beach and the Coeur d’Alene Resort on your hike in. The trailhead is located at the Third Street Docks. Though it’s currently flanked by construction of the new McEuen Park, the trailhead is accessible by foot, and there’s no cover charge.
You’ll have to wait out spring runoff for a few weeks yet, but it’s never too early to start getting ready to fish. Check your lines, tie your flies, harvest your worms and get your polarized Ray-Bans ready for this year’s summer season. Stalk local fly shops for fishing reports — Silver Bow and Swedes are good resources. And make sure to get licensed. Nobody likes getting called out by the fish police.
Get back to your childhood with water balloon fights, Slip ’n Slides, squirt gun wars, sprinkler obstacle courses, inflatable kiddie pools and a squishy, waterlogged lawn. While you’re reveling in childish shenanigans, play the hose trick, a timeless prank that never gets old: All you needs is a garden hose and an unsuspecting victim who’s willing to eyeball the hose end to check that the water faucet is properly functioning.
If regular Zumba isn’t enough fun for you, go submerge yourself at the Shadle Aquatic Center. Aqua Zumba is workout dancing in 5 feet of water — the hour-long classes are Saturday mornings starting at 9:30 from June 29 to Aug. 24.
Conquer the Little Spokane River with morning, afternoon and evening paddles. Hosted by REI and Mountain Gear, these guided trips will take you from the Painted Rocks at Riverside State Park to the take-out at Nine Mile Falls, a four-hour water voyage. Take your pick of 15 trips throughout the summer, beginning June 21 and ending Aug. 23.
Webb’s Slough Sprint Boat Races are the NASCAR races of the water world, only a little classier. Here’s how it works: Small, brightly colored and extremely aerodynamic boats manned by a driver and a navigator rip through a winding race course dug out of a mud pit in a race against the clock. The high-powered engines will whine, the mud will fly, and when the flag goes down at the starting line, anything can happen. (Roll cages are required on all boats.)
Most boats finish the course in a little more than a minute — the fastest time at the Slough races was 57 seconds in 2012.
With only 34 teams in three leagues, the United States Sprint Boat Association is very competitive — some 28 teams will compete at Webb’s Slough June 15 and Aug. 24. The Webb’s Slough races are just two of seven races the USSBA will host this summer in Washington and Oregon, the only states that participate in the sport, which originated in New Zealand.
The races start at 10 am just outside St. John, Wash. Spectators can admire boats, praise their racing-duo heroes and load up on Slough gear on Friday night before the races at the Show and Shine in downtown St. John. The race course will host a herd of food and retail vendors and two beer gardens. For more details, visit webbsslough.com.
You’ll need all your foam noodles, beach towels and happy faces to face the herds of liberated schoolchildren at local pools. Whether you prefer the deep end, the shallow end or the lounge chair, Spokane’s six public aquatic centers can keep you busy this summer. Also, don’t forget to visit one of Spokane’s 18 splash pads, essentially parks with a wet mess of water-squirting devices.
Have you ever tried holding your breath while driving across the Long Bridge into Sandpoint? Have you ever succeeded? Why don’t you try swimming the length of it? Get your goggles ready for the Long Bridge Swim, a 1.76-mile voyage across Lake Pend Oreille. Benefits from this annual event, which celebrates its 18th birthday this year, foot the bill for swim lessons for local children and adults.