Paddleboarders find unique way to experience Juneau

A group of people from all over the U.S. traveled to the capital city this week for one reason – stand up paddle boarding.

Jan and Jeff Lipscomb, Carol Fontius, and Bob Stafford went to Auke Lake for their first Alaska stand up paddle board experience.

Fontius describes the sport which has its roots in Hawaii.

“It’s like a big long surf board that you can stand on. And if you’re really good, you can do yoga on or something. With a paddle, you stand up and you just move through the water. You know sometimes people fall in when they first start but it’s easy not to even get wet after a while.”

Sunday was North Douglas. The group took off toward Mendenhall Glacier.

“Heading straight for that glacier was like being in an IMAX movie for me. It’s only something I’ve seen in movies. And to be on the water, looking at it, it’s really surreal.”

Jan Lipscomb says the trip so far has been fun and not too strenuous.

The two couples traveled to Juneau from San Diego and Las Vegas with the help of Florida-based company SURFit. Karla Gore runs the business with her husband Aaron Pollard. One component is setting up stand up paddle boarding trips in different parts of the world.

“Almost anywhere there’s water you can paddleboard. We’re really used to warm water paddle boarding, but I thought we know that it’s beautiful here. There’s so much to see, so much water, so much place to paddle, so we thought well we’d just try it here.”

For Jeff Lipscomb, paddle boarding in Alaska is how he wanted to celebrate turning 60.

“For me, this is something that surrealistically you could only dream about and it has been, two days in a row – all I can say is, this is phenomenal. You’re paddling on the water looking at arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth.”

Lipscomb says being on the water on a paddleboard is different than being on the water in a boat.

“When you’re paddling, there’s the sound of your paddle in the water and that’s it. And then everything else you hear are things like eagles, birds, salmon thrashing around. You can hear and see everything with clarity.”

Stafford describes the schedule for the rest of their week in Juneau.

“We’ll paddleboard at least once every day, and maybe twice, and we’ll go 5-6 miles in the morning, 5-6 miles in the afternoon. And we look for wind or some texture in the water and we follow that a little bit.”

Other Juneau paddle boarding destinations include Amalga Harbor, Boy Scout Beach, Auke Rec, and Echo Cove.

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