Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Flatwater Wind Waves on Yellowstone Lake

Standup paddling on inland waters is not about boring. My family and I went on a camping trip to Yellowstone last summer and brought along the standup boards. We put the boards on top of the van and left Bend, Oregon traveling east through the Eastern Oregon high plateau desert, Idaho and into Montana. Gas stations guys and diner staff along the way would nod towards the east and ask us if we knew the ocean was "back that way."

When we got to Yellowstone, we went to the Ranger station and got tags for our boards. (Required for any watercraft.) We parked at the North end of Yellowstone Lake and after about 45 minutes on the water we noticed a dark wind-line on the lake in the distance to the South. It took about five minutes until we were hit with a line of wind that built to a 15-20 mph steady blow within 10 minutes. We turned back towards the shore and paddled with the wind to our backs.

Our daughter noticed that the wave chop was becoming waves that looked surfable. Pushed by the 24 miles of open water, the waves were 12” to 24” by the time they reached Mary’s Bay. The gradual shallow slope of the bay created waves that we could ride for quite a way. Wind generated, the waves were close together and unpredictable. We found that we could walk the boards out faster than we could paddle them. Standing on the lake bottom we’d push our boards into a wave and quickly jump to standing position. We surfed for a couple of hours. A bull bison came down to the shoreline and watched us awhile before rejoining his herd as it meandered down the road to the west. READ MORE. . . .

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