Paddleboarding into the Sunset
‘I don’t know about this…’ My friends voice wobbles and she steps on the board, her legs wobbling in unison. The water is still warm, and the afternoon sun is creeping over us. ‘You’ll be fine. It’s more stable than it looks!’ My enthusiastic demeanor is self-serving: I want a friend to come paddleboarding with me this evening. I’ve brought snacks, and who can say no to snacks?
I hand her a paddle and push the board lightly away from the beach. Her knees buckle lightly back and forth, but she doesn’t fall. ‘Rock back and forth a bit on your legs,’ I say, ‘See how far you can tip the board without flipping.’ She does this several times, giggling at her own uncertainty. Funny how just five minutes ago we were swimming in this same lake, but the idea of falling seems somehow terrifying now.
It only takes a few minutes: the shaky legs, the nerves, the lack of confidence. Within five she’s pushing her paddle in the water, switching sides, moving forward. We start slow, getting our bearings, following the treeline. Before you know it though, we’ve rounded the corner out of sight of the beach and are paddling along in solitude. My friend, the one who was nervous five minutes ago, is ahead of me now, paddling confidently into the slowly dipping sun. I am again reminded of this truth:
Stand Up Paddleboarding is for Everyone
You don’t have to be an athlete. You don’t have to be confident in the water (you’re literally riding a giant flotation device!). You don’t have to have experience with similar water sports. If you’re willing to feel uncomfortable for a mere five minutes while gaining your balance, you too could be paddleboarding into the sunset.
Your First Time
Rent a board. You can rent paddleboards (as well as canoes and kayaks), from the Morden Paddle Club, which is located right on Lake Minnewasta.
Know that beginner boards, like the rentals, are made of foam and a durable plastic material. They are steady. Once you’re comfortable, you can walk around or throw dance-party-for-one on top.
Wear a life jacket, and start in shallow water. Climb atop the board, or sit on your knees for more balance if you like. Sit or stand for a few minutes and apply pressure back and forth between each of your legs. Feel the board push into the water, then bounce back. Once you’re ready, stand up close to the middle of the board, and alternate dipping your paddle in on each side, propelling yourself gently forward. Just like that, you’ve done it. You’re paddleboarding.
… I notice colors have started changing on the trees we are paddling by, the damp smell of Fall in the air. Seeing it from the water feels so different; passing by Time itself rather than letting it pass by me. We slow down at a rocky outcrop, cattails rising up around us, and munch away (finally) on our snacks. We are alone, and the solitude of the place, so close to town, feels like a gift. We decide to paddle harder on the way back, work up a sweat, the low impact workout great for your legs and core.
Until now, I’ve never thought the Winkler/Morden area synonymous with water sports, but yet here we are. The sprawl of fields split near downtown Morden, separated by the 611-acre Lake Minnewasta. So close to town, near campgrounds and walking paths, it’s the perfect place to learn. Staying close to the beach allows you to feel confident and safe during your first attempts (Think: Lifeguards and shallow water!). Once you’re confident, an easy five-minute paddle brings isolation. So while we may be close to bidding summer goodbye, know there’s still time. While the water is warm and the trees are turning, step on a board and paddle into your own sunset.
For more information on board rental, visit the Morden Paddle Clubs website. You can also rent canoes and kayaks, or join in their events.
Photo Credit for the photos in this blog is given to @desirae201, who is an avid paddleboarder/mountain biker/sports enthusiast who lives in Morden, MB. Follow her on Instagram for more information on her local adventures!
The Featured Image is thanks to @jefftscott