Photos: A First SUP Descent of the Spokane River

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Words and photos by Jed Conklin.

Every sunny summer day you can find throngs of people sunning, strutting and swimming at the city beach on Idaho’s Lake Coeur d'Alene. From that beach you can head West where the lake narrows and find the headwaters of the Spokane River flowing between miles of waterfront homes followed by remote timber, agriculture and mountains.

Wakeboard and surfboats have taken the place of most ski boats in recent years but on the placid water of early morning, before the wake starts pounding the shore, you can find the kayakers, fishermen and distance swimmers that have long frequented the area.

It was with that early crowd that Allison Roskelley, Grace Robison and I launched our SUPs on a smoky August morning. With gear and supplies strapped to our boards for the four-day adventure ahead, we set out on an 111-mile first SUP descent of the Spokane River.

Along the way we encountered six dams, one large waterfall, multiple city centers, endless waterfront homes, powerboats, inner tubers, homeless camps, whitewater, lakes, basalt cliffs, farm fields, state parks, curious people, drunks, generous souls, a Native American reservation, wildlife, wildfire smoke and one casino before we ended our adventure at the confluence of the Columbia River in what is now Lake Roosevelt with these photos to share the story. -JC

Jed Conklin is a freelance photojournalist based in Spokane, Wash. Read Roskelley’s take on the adventure in NRS’s Duct Tape Diaries.

See also:
Paddling PNW Backwaters: The Olympic Peninsula
Winter paddling in the Pacific Northwest