The silhouetted figure of a young woman with a dog perched in front of her drifted silently by. The golden light of sunset cast them in a glow that’s usually reserved only for movies. This was the way I first encountered an ancient tradition that’s making a come back on the lakes of Steuben County. It’s called Stand Up Paddle Boarding or SUP for short. Others call it paddleboarding.
No one knows for sure when the idea of standing on a water craft while paddling began, but the likelihood of early Native Americans using this method to traverse what would one day be called Clear Lake or perhaps Crooked Lake is more than likely.
Ancient cultures dating back more than 3,000 years have used this technique for everything from fishing and travel to getting the upper hand in battle (by sneaking up on enemies). Modern SUPing has its roots in Hawaii in the 1940s when three surf instructors in Waikiki used paddles with their surfboards to get a better view of those they were teaching.
Today SUPing can be found on just about any lake in Steuben County. Equipment can easily be found locally for under $200 everywhere from Walmart to Dunham’s and more.
If you’d rather take a test drive before diving in full throttle, there are plenty of rentals creeping up around the area. Potawatomi Inn’s boathouse (at Pokagon State Park) now rents paddleboards. Stand Up Paddleboard Rental at Clear Lake (1299 Sailor’s Cove, Fremont IN) also rents SUPs.
SUP 101 Lakes on Crooked Lake has a variety of services to fit your needs. It caters to all the lakes in the area, delivers SUPs, and provides free lessons with each sale or rental. For those interested in more advanced SUPing SUP 101 Lakes offers regular SUP Yoga and SUP Fitness too. Classes are $15 Monday through Thursday
For those who want to see the area lakes in a new way, SUP 101 Lakes also offers a sunset SUP tour on a different lake each weekend. Participants hop on a board and paddle toward the sunset. For more information call 260-624-2878.