14 October 2012 ~ 8 Comments

SUP Great Salt Lake Crossing

On October 9th, 2012 I did a crossing of the width of the Great Salt Lake on a stand-up paddle board. It was my understanding that this was the first-ever crossing of the lake via SUP, but I have been told since then, that other groups have done it previously (although I have not seen any GPS downloads or blog reports confirming it). Perhaps this was the first ever solo, unsupported crossing. I did this 28 mile starting just after 10 a.m. The ambient temps during the day ranged from about 50F to 68F with a water temperature of 62F. I specifically picked this day as the forecast had a wind of  only 6 MPH in the morning decreasing to 1 or 2 MPH by the afternoon — perfect conditions for a safe trip on such a body of water. My moving time was 6:54 for a total travel time of about 7:41. I traveled from the west near the railroad causeway, which crosses this lake in a east/west direction. This was for safety, so that if there were any issues, I could paddle towards it and latch on. This time of year, I went about as far east as I could go before running into the dreaded biotherms or before hitting very shallow waters and unable to paddle any further. In fact, the last three of four miles, I had to stand forward on my board while paddling as my rear fin was dragging on the bottom of the lake!

Here’s a link to an online map with my planned route. My actual mileage was bout 7/10s of a mile longer, probably due to my uneven path while paddling. This is a Strava upload of my trip.

Next up, a south or north crossing? That would be a 75-mile adventure. Hmmm, that would be one long day and part of a night.

Many thanks to Dave Shearer, the harbor master for his advice on access and conditions and to my daughter Rosemary for making rather long shuttle required for this effort.

Gear notes:
> My board was a 14’0″ x 28″ carbon fiber Admundson TR-X with a Surftech carbon fiber SUP paddle (their so-called small-size blade). I have since then replaced this board with a better “flat water” unit, that has less rocker. My back-up paddle was a “clunky kayak” Cairsle.
> I was testing a new SUP-specific hydration backpack which I’m designing for release next spring (eoGEAR Inc.). In it I used a 2-liter bladder and later switched out to a 1.5-liter bladder after I consumed the first one. Both were filled with Cytomax. In my dry bag I also had a liter of Hammer Perpeteum and two liters of water. I had way more fluids that I needed.
> The other product I was testing was a tie-down system for gear. They are designed with quick-release buckles which secured a Seattle Sports wide mouth dry bag and also my PFD.
> I was also testing a rough prototype of a device to hold a watch style GPS to the board for use in navigating. Half way through the paddle, I switched, mounting it my chest pouch.

Postscript: Today (30 Oct 2012) I did a “radio” interview on SUP Radio, which is now available as a Podcast.

8 Responses to “SUP Great Salt Lake Crossing”

  1. Rachel 16 October 2012 at 8:55 am Permalink

    Very cool!! I am interested in the tie down system for gear. We have a SUP fitness and rentals business and we are looking for a way to strap gear to our carbon fiber and epoxy boards. If you have any info I would love to hear. I love that you did this!!

  2. Bobby 19 October 2012 at 1:20 pm Permalink

    Wow, nice job. Great accomplishment. Looks like the weather was on your side, and you were well prepared. Congrats Richard.


  3. Hannah S 21 October 2012 at 8:47 pm Permalink

    Way to go dad! Great shots too.

  4. Stan 22 October 2012 at 3:10 pm Permalink


    Great write up and photos! Just a quick note that the GLS has been crossed many times by other local paddlers on SUP’s. The local meetup does it once per season.

  5. Rebekka Stone 22 October 2012 at 4:56 pm Permalink

    Congrats Richard! Great blog write up of the experience and the gear used. I am sure for the 75 mile paddle, you will have company, for part or all of the journey!

  6. Richard 1 November 2012 at 8:29 am Permalink

    According to the harbor master he didn’t know of any prior crossings. I thought Bekka Stone inferred that this was a first (isn’t that her Meetup group which you refer?). Stan, tell me more. When do you guys do it? Do you do it unsupported or with a follow boat, out-rigger canoe etc? Any solo crossings? I could not find any blog reports on online confirmation either way on this. As far as you know, as anyone SUPed from south or north (or visa versa)?

  7. Jeff 25 August 2013 at 7:03 pm Permalink

    I’m planning to do Richard’s route across GSL on a classic prone board. Does anyone know if this has been done previously? Thanks.


  8. Richard 26 August 2013 at 8:34 am Permalink

    If you review a prior post, a gentleman named Stan says the lake had been done previously (but not solo), but he didn’t indicate whether or not anyone has done it prone style. Let me know you when you go and whether or not you want some company.

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