Paddleboarding Makes Uncommon River Sections Prime Destinations

Spring has sprung here in the Pacific Northwest, and all this sunshine has given me the first bit of color on my yearly Chaco tan. It has also reminded me why I am so lucky to get to work outside in the summertime!

You can feel the energy in the air as Portland’s cooped up residents shed their layers of winter clothing and bask in the warm sunshine. I saw a girl walking down Burnside with her arms raised, her head tilted back, eyes closed to soak it all in as she said, “Yeahhhhhhhhh.” I know exactly how she felt.

Zach and I basked in the spring glory by squeezing a morning of Stand Up Paddleboarding into our busy schedules. We met in Troutdale and headed up to run a section of the Lower Sandy River. Neither one of us knew anything about this section which is one of the magical aspects of SUPing. The stand up paddle board opens up sections of river that weren’t on our radar before. A mellow stretch with some riffles or a couple tiny waves suddenly becomes a destination.

We had a blast running the Sandy. It was my first time putting my SUP board on the river which made it all the more fun. It’s like walking on water, for real. Zach and I paddled together and chatted like we were on a walk. At the end of the run, we found a tiny tiny wave. Of course, we had to try and surf it. Good thing I wore my wet suit because I swam a lot trying to get the hang of riding a river wave in the stand up position, but after a little practice, some goofy wobbles, and a lot of laughing we were both surfing. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had so much fun on flat water.


About Tate

Tate grew up in South Carolina then moved to Colorado to explore and ended up with an M.F.A. in creative writing along the way. He found his tribe when he figured out he could make a living guiding folks down rivers and has shunned the idea of a permanent address ever since. His favorite places are the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho and the next place he’s never been. He currently splits his time writing, working for Wilderness Medicine Institute, and chasing water and fish between the South and the West.