Like most people, Iíve got a list. Driving through Hood River on our move west nearly a decade ago, windsurfing on the Columbia was added to the list. Fast-forward eight years, substitute the newest craze of stand-up paddling (SUP)†for windsurfing, and I’ve now checked “Getting on the Columbia in Hood River” off my list.
I wasnít sure how hard SUP would be — my only real knowledge of it was seeing Hollywood fit gals Cameron Diaz and Kate Hudson in the gossip mags cruising on†long boards with†paddles in Hawaii. And, with no photo to prove it, I am pretty sure I looked just like them on the water (minus the fit and Hawaii parts). At least thatís how I picture it.
A quick lesson from Big Winds familiarized me with the board and provided tips on turning, along with some recommendations on the top things to see from the water. Still a little bummed that I passed on the windsurfing, I was quickly grateful to be enjoying a leisurely paddle that allowed me to see the valley from the Columbia. Not having windsurfed since I was much younger, I surely would have missed the sweeping views while concentrating on the task at hand.
I paddled from Oregon to Washington, waving to the kayakers and boaters along the way. I headed down river to a small island complete with inlets for exploring and wildlife for viewing. I stood for a time on my board and just looked at Mount Hoodís glorious peak seemingly about to swallow the Hood River Valley whole. And best of all for this mama, I paddled by the beach to wave to my kids. Next summer they will be old enough to ride along and check the Hood River Valley view from the powerful Columbia off their lists.
I have spent so much time in Hood River since I moved here, but never having seen it from the water I didnít know what I was missing. Now that I do, it will be hard to keep me off that water. Windsurfing stays on the list for now, but it will get its check in due time. Crawl before you walk. Paddle before you surf.