Roadtrip! Tahoe SUPing

The Gear
Board: 12’6” Race Board
Paddle: Peak full carbon
– Board: 12’6” Race Board
Paddle: Battle Hybrid
Board: 10’ Manawa
Paddle: Vario (adjustable paddle)

Our first stop was Donner Lake just as dawn broke over the snow covered hills. The air and water were silent and still except for the sound of our paddles cutting through the water and the ripples following our boards.

As the rising sun drew mists off the water the lake became one of those mysterious, magical places of the adventure movies and books I read as a kid. I half expected some enchanted creature to rise out of the waters.

Instead, a trio of ducks buzzed us and settled on the water close enough to check us out and with enough room to make a get away if we made any sudden moves.

I thought I’d lived the Tahoe adventure I’ve been there many times for skiing, mountain biking and inner tubing. And being out on the lake at dawn, watching the shifts in the light and the water as the world slowly woke up. I felt like I’d seen Tahoe for the first time.

After warming up and fueling up on coffee and bagels our next stop was Lake Tahoe itself. There the main type of wildlife we saw was tourists, curious what we were up to. Like the ducks, they stopped to watch us. Unlike the ducks they had many questions about learning how to do it and where they could get boards themselves.

Caffeinated and under the bright sun of mid morning and having an audience of tourists the mood was much more rambunctious and we shifted from the contemplative paddling of the morning to opening up the high performance capabilities of the boards. Those race boards are like thorough bred racehorses. They can only tolerate being held back so much. It was exhilarating to fly across the crystal clear water in the chill mountain air.


By our final stop at Fallen Leaf Lake in the afternoon the air had warmed up enough we could trade wetsuits for shorts. The water was still really cold and it would have really, really sucked to fall in. The threat wasn’t from the still clear waters of the lake. It came from fellow team mates “just playing around”. Yeah, it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye or someone ends up in alpine lake water.

Our little adventure combined everything I love about Tahoe trips. The camaraderie of the group. The breathtaking awe of the majestic beauty of The Sierras. The sense of adventure and excitement that comes with actually engaging with nature instead of just looking at it out of a moving car window. And this time I got to see a whole new side of the mountains and the lakes.