33 Stand up paddle boarding (SUPing) has become one of the fastest growing water sports in the world and Priest Lake is a great place to learn and enjoy it. SUPing is exercise, relaxation, and exploration all at the same time. It is a full body workout using muscles from your shoulders to the small muscles in your ankles and feet, all while visiting parts of the lake that can be impossible to see any other way. SUPing has a relatively easy learning curve and is as popular as kayaking and canoeing on Priest Lake. Safety, Laws, and Beginner Tips The U.S. Coast Guard considers paddle boards to be vessels outside of designated swimming areas and paddlers must adhere to similar laws as power boaters. Paddlers must have a personal flotation device (PFD) on board as well as a whistle and invasive species sticker (Boards under 10 feet do not need the invasive species sticker). If the paddler is under 14 years of age they must actually wear the PFD while paddling. As with any other vessel operated on Priest Lake, a person is subject to arrest for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In spite of the tranquil nature of SUPing it can be dangerous. Most of the danger is related to power boats and the difficulty in seeing paddle boarders. Power boaters are subject to vibration, engine noise, sun, wind, and spray that can interfere with how well you, as a paddler, can be seen on the lake. Here are some tips for staying safe on the lake: 1. Wear brightly colored clothing but even then do not assume that boaters will see you. Paddle boarders can be VERY difficult to see even when boaters are looking for them. 2. Do not venture into wide open parts of the lake during peak boating hours or seasons. Stay closer to shore. It is easy to get caught up in the beauty and serenity of Priest Lake only to realize that there is a ring of 2 foot waves coming at you generated by a big, yellow, wake surf boat. 3. Get a leash for your paddle board. If you fall into the water the leash keeps the board attached to your ankle and that means keeping the board close to you. This becomes even more important as the water becomes colder. Paddle Boarding on Priest Lake: A Unique Perspective By Travis Holycross 4. Looking down at your board can make it difficult to keep your balance. Look out at the horizon instead or out in front of your board, keeping some bend in your legs to help absorb any ripples or waves. Fun Disguised as Exercise Paddling is a lot more physical than it looks. A 45 minute paddle, just a few times a week is a great way to strengthen your core, get a low impact cardio workout, as well as improve your balance and flexibility. You can work hard like running sprints or paddle easy like taking a stroll. It’s up to you. A common mistake in paddling form is to use too much of your arms and shoulders and not enough of your abdomen and back. Utilizing your core and twisting with the paddle rather than only pulling the paddle through the water will make it easier and give you a more thorough workout. A Relaxing Nature Walk on Water There is a lot to be said for staying closer to shore and not just for safety reasons. Priest Lake’s clear waters allow paddle boarders an underwater visual that is unmatched in canoeing and kayaking simply because of how high you are off the water. It is common to have visibility of 20-30 feet under the water near the shoreline. Schools of fish, interesting log and rock formations, as well as the occasional sunken boat are nice rewards for the effort. Paddle boarding can give you exposure to wildlife from a safe distance. Give Paddle Boarding a Try on Priest Lake Renting a paddle board for a day or even a few hours is a great way to give the sport a try and get a unique perspective of Priest Lake. Don’t forget your life jacket, whistle, and invasive species sticker. Make sure you have a leash, some snacks, and water if you plan on an extended adventure and always keep an eye out for that big, yellow, wake surf boat!