Inevitably after an epic year of snow – with all the amazing powder days, untracked runs and extended seasons – comes a summer of high rivers, lakes filled to the max and plenty to do on Northern Utah’s waterways.
The winter of 2017, will go down as one of the wettest in recent memory and the drought busting snowfall brings with it all the benefits of staying cool throughout the dog days of summer. The Ogden Valley’s crown jewel of water play is the picturesque Pineview Reservoir, which offers sandy beaches, swim safe zones and beautiful mountain vistas. Pineview has long been the favored hotspot for a variety of water sport activities.
Feeding Pineview are the North and South forks of the Ogden River. The swift currents in these rivers quickly rose beyond their banks this spring as they rushed to fill the void left by years of less than average snowfall.
Here are a few suggestions for how to make the best of a wet situation.
Catching Waves at Pineview Reservoir
As much as the technology of motor boats has changed over the years, so have the toys being pulled by those boats. Instead of seeing slalom water skiers making rooster tail spray and skipping over small wakes, the lakes are now crowded with wake surfers using the largest wake the boat can provide.
The innovative Centurion Ri 237 boat, a demo model owned by Fred’s Marine, includes a feature virtually unheard of 20 years ago. This feature will fill the hull of the boat with 3,000 pounds of water in about a minute and a half. The extra weight produces a huge wake which mimics the waves found on the ocean — perfect for wake surfing. Surfers can just keep going all day on one continuous wave.
“You’re seeing less and less wake boarders on the water and more and more wake surfers,” said Kip Ames, a manager at Fred’s Marine. “Wake surfing is by far one of the most popular watersports.”
According to Ames, the reasons for the rise of wake surfing are many. The low impact nature of the sport is much easier on the body. Unlike waterskiing, surfers are not pulling against a boat going 30 miles an hour, instead, they use gravity to surf down the wave. And if there’s a crash, the boat is only traveling around 10-12 miles an hour.
Ease of participation makes it much more attractive for all ages. Pretty much anyone can get up on a board and try it. “Even grandma can get out and surf,” said Ames.
It’s also an all-day activity. Surfers aren’t affected by choppy water so they don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to find the glassy water. It can be done all day, regardless of the water conditions.
The sport has had so much impact that boat manufacturers are moving away from wakeboarding boats and producing wake-surf specific boats. The Centurion models even have a feature that switches the wave from one side of the wake to the other with the touch of a button. “There are a lot of guys with old Bayliners (boats) trying to do anything they can to modify their boats to create bigger wakes,” said Ames.
The sport has certainly opened up the thrill of cruising along the water to all ages, making it the ideal family activity no longer reserved for the expert water skier or wake boarder.
Take an Afternoon Stand on a Paddleboard
According to Trent Hickman, owner of Park City SUP, standup paddleboards, at least in some form, have been around as long as there have been bodies of water to navigate. From the canals of Venice, Italy to the Amazon River, and the big waves of Waikiki, people have been paddling while standing for centuries.
The modern and more recreational version of stand-up paddleboards began to gain in popularity in the 90s when schools in Hawaii began teaching it as a method to take advantage of smaller swells. Surfers such as Laird Hamilton and Brian Keaulana began promoting the sport and it has taken off, being listed as the most popular sport among first time participants in the Outdoor Foundation’s 2013 report.
Hickman has been teaching the sport with his Park City based company for seven years, the last five of them at Deer Valley Resort. He says the popularity of the sport has exploded. “First, it’s really fun. Second, it’s incredibly useful as a training tool for the body. And third, there’s an aspect of the sport for every personality,” he said. “It’s so diverse in what it offers to people, it’s not just one thing.”
According to Hickman, there are more ways to enjoy paddleboarding than just standing on the water. There’s stand up yoga for those wanting to add a new challenge to their yoga routine. Endurance athletes can head out for a ten-mile extended workout for cardio strength. For those looking for more excitement, there’s the option of running a river on a paddleboard. “There are even people fly fishing off a paddleboard,” he said.
Ashley Battersby, a yoga instructor and former pro slopestyle skier with the U.S. Ski Team raves about the benefits of stand up yoga. “It’s an all body workout. You can get your core, your balance, your strength. It helped me a lot with balance in my life,” she said, a critical skill to have as a professional skier.
The fitness benefits are many as participants use muscles in their core, arms, shoulders, back and legs. If done with the intent to get a workout, the act of paddling has a lot to offer.
In addition to building core and upper body strength, the sport may also be used to center the spirit as well. “You still get your balance in, but it’s also about being internal. You have to get more in a meditative state because the board is moving underneath you,” she said. “Some poses are difficult enough on solid ground, when you try them on a paddleboard, you really have to be focused.”
Great fitness is only one aspect of the sport of paddleboarding, there’s also the recreational side of it. “Sometimes it isn’t about a workout,” said Battersby. “Occasionally, I just want to get out and enjoy the sun.”
Cool Off in the Waters of the Weber River
There’s something very “Tom Sawyer-esque” about floating down a river on a tube. Maybe it’s the random, sometimes unpredictable movement of the water. Perhaps it’s the absence of computer screens and mobile phones, or it could be that everyone is barefoot. Whatever the reason, river tubing offers that carefree feeling as the world drifts past.
For the last seven years, Barefoot Tubing based in Morgan has been providing that very experience of floating down the river, specifically the Weber River, from Henefer to Taggart through the Upper Weber Canyon.
Unlike Tom and Huck’s Mississippi River, The Weber River sometimes replaces that lazy feeling with the excitement of faster water and obstacles like bridges and rocks. It’s also easy to get distracted by some of the spectacular geological formations, not the least of which is the famous Devil’s Slide, where two massive parallel slabs of rock climb toward the sky along the side of the canyon wall.
“This is a class 2 river and rafters need to use lots of common sense to navigate the obstacles safely,” said Kyle Hooker, owner of Barefoot Tubing.
With all the water we received this past winter, the adage, “whatever floats your boat,” could not be more fitting.