The farther I get into paddling 50 states the more I care about picking the right spot. If it is a state where I have been before I want to learn something new or revisit somewhere of personal meaning. Plus, I want the spot to be naturally beautiful or iconic in some way. Part of the point is to show that everywhere is awesome. But also to show that not everywhere is exactly the same. In the beginning, before SUP caught on, I was trying to show you don’t need a white-sand beach to SUP (not that there is anything wrong with a white-sand beach). But now, I’m trying to do more.
All of that got in my head as I planned to paddle Colorado. I went to summer camp here (on Mount Evans) as a kid and went to high school in Colorado Springs, waking up to Pikes Peaks and Garden of the Gods. I have a lot of favorite people in the state and had a lot of suggestions. I planned to paddle a lake you need to hike to that is one of my favorite places on Earth. But it was crazy crowded when I got there on Saturday and I just didn’t want to deal with carrying the board with all those people on a narrow path. So I went to a different place in the mountains and paddled. I don’t want to name it because
the point is to say everywhere is awesome... I’ll just say, it wasn’t for me. It was crowded and there was tons of boat traffic and the wind was off the charts. I also wasn’t feeling amazing, which 20 hours later I figured out might be altitude sickness when I was at the highest altitude b&b in the country (not yet fact-checked).
So, I decided I wasn’t going to count it. If it isn’t fun, why do it? Instead, I drove up Pikes Peak. The park ranger told me he liked North Catamount Reservoir better than South, so that’s where I went. The trout were jumping and the views were rid. Red rocks and pine trees and wildflowers and sagebrush and crystal-clear water and talk of Bigfoot, but no sighting. It is 9,200 ft. in elevation (higher than the 9,000 of the other paddle) and I felt amazing. Plus, the park gift shop had the best selection of stickers for my board I have ever seen. Sometimes it is hard to find even one, and there were seven I loved. AND, I got an excuse to wear my Colorado flag leggings for a second paddle.