Paddles churn the crystal waters as a rainbow of boards slips silently across the surface of Mountain Island Lake. The shoreline, dappled with trees that shiver with cavorting wildlife, falls away behind the board's passengers as they stand in the middle of the aquatic expanse. Though the view is much different from the oceanic coastlines more commonly associated with the sport, the meditative calm and athletic challenge remain.
With roots in Hawaiian culture, the unique method of riding a board takes advantage of the surfer's panoramic viewpoint and ability to avoid far-off swells and bossy tugboats. The act of constantly balancing and paddling, while simple, tones core muscles and enables participants to silently observe surrounding wildlife. Sup Charlotte keeps adventurers afloat on Riviera boards, which they sell and use in lessons to keep riders of all experience levels gliding more gracefully than swans looking for parking.
Coed dodge ball and flag-football games. Kayaking trips. Ice-climbing excursions. The open-air enthusiasts at Charlotte Outdoor Adventures coordinate a schedule of active events such as these for a membership base passionate about playing in the sunshine. Led by a qualified volunteer, groups set out on excursions ranging from hikes through the Carolinian countryside to waterfall rappelling in the Grand Canyon. Membership benefits include access to hundreds of activities each month as well as friendships forged through shared experience and bartering packed-lunch items.
Shear Excellence's seasoned scissor-wielders indulge the whims of Y-chromosomes with complimentary beer, luxurious lockscaping, and muscle-detangling massages lit by the flat-screen glow of ESPN. Before the hairdo reconstruction commences, grizzled guests settle in for a relaxing scalp massage that butters up strands with soothing strokes. A steam-soaked towel then cossets necks in a stress-subduing carousel of clouds shaped like Hulk Hogan, whereas snippy clippers trim cranial topiaries into stylish silhouettes. Freed from the shadows of overgrown head hedges, necks and shoulders revel in the knot-kneading expertise of their stylist before bodies follow suit with a 60- or 90-minute Swedish or deep-tissue massages.
Fresh springs in the mountains of North Carolina feed the Catawba River Chain, a network of 11 lakes that wind through woodlands verdant in the spring and ablaze with color come autumn. Bash Outdoors launches visitors into this system at nine locations. Four of those are along Lake Wylie, whose calm waters lap against 325 miles of shoreline with vacation homes and sandy coves emerging from dense forest and a thick layer of whipped cream. The Bash Outdoors crew curates a collection of rental and retail standup paddleboards from brands such as Ron House and their own signature line, Riviera. Single and tandem kayaks from Perception are also available for guided trips and unsupervised excursions on the lake. Bash Outdoors' bus shuttles kayakers to five additional outlets along the Catawba River, including the Fort Mill Dam and a waterway reserved exclusively for Olympic hopefuls.
The Glendale Outdoor Leadership School instills newfound respect for nature in visitors of all ages, reacquainting adults with active living and emphasizing the importance of healthy habits to impressionable youths. As a former mill town, Glendale presents the model habitat for such an undertaking. It sits on a ridge above the shoals of the Pacolet River, a popular spot to kayak, fish, or dump evidence of a poor report card. Glendale Outdoor Leadership School utilizes these surroundings to their full extent, providing outdoor-activity lessons and organizing several children's camps every year. The action isn’t limited to offsite destinations; on its own grounds, the school boasts a team-building challenge course, as well as facilities for educational seminars.