What's SUP?

Getting Out on the Water is Easier Than You Think


by Lydia Novak
Photos (bottom) provided by Tim Lovett

Four years ago, I lost the ability to do many activities my body used to be able to do, and I wasn’t able to play the sport I loved for 11 months—soccer. I injured my knee, tearing my ACL. I underwent two surgeries, as well as countless of hours of therapy to get my knee back to a state of normal. It took me a long time to trust my knee when participating in any rigorous exercise. I completely cut out activities I loved like skim-boarding, boogieboarding and bodysurfing because I was afraid my knee wouldn’t be able to withstand the impact. However, the one thing I refused to give up was stand-up-paddleboarding. I not only trained my knee to keep my balance, but I also trained my brain to work with my body instead of against it. With this, I found an appreciation for the sport and the area I grew up in—the beautiful Lowcountry. Stand-Up-Paddleboarding (SUP) is not only an effective form of exercise but also an outlet that has become my safe place. And, I am not the only one who has discovered this. I had the pleasure of meeting with Tim Lovett, the owner of Higher Ground, an outdoor outfitter store that offers kayaking and SUP tours and rentals, in Beaufort.

The History:
Higher Ground was created in 2004 and bought by Tim Lovett in October 2010. Tim was working in the athletic sports business but quickly moved to the outdoors, which was his true passion when he came to Beaufort. He grew up enjoying the outdoors throughout North and South Carolina. He ultimately had a desire to get back into the lifestyle he grew up in. After purchasing Higher Ground, he added stand-up-paddleboarding and kayaking tours to pair his passion with the outfitter. He then moved the store from Beaufort Town Center to a more convenient location on Factory Creek Court to make tours easily accessible.

Out on the Water:
Tim knows first hand that it’s hard to fully appreciate the Lowcountry unless you experience it from the water. “To get the full South Carolina Lowcountry experience visitors and residents should definitely get out there,” he said. Many visitors, even residents, who come to the Hilton Head, Bluffton or Beaufort, feel that if they don’t own or rent a boat, which can be intimidating if you aren’t familiar with tidal impacted waters, they can only enjoy the water from the sidelines. Higher Ground proves that is not the case. Tim says he thinks it is even better if people don’t use a boat; all of this coming from an experienced power boater. “It is just so much better to be on the water.”

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Healthy All Around:
One of my favorite things about SUP is that it is so healthy. Tim pointed out that including water sports in your life is a great way to live a fit lifestyle. It helps develop balance, while strengthening muscles in the arms, core and legs. Kayaking, on the other hand, is more arm and core heavy, but still very beneficial. “The lifestyle on the water helps me mentally, as well as physically,” said Tim. “I have this big a store so I can be out on the water as much as I can.” The water is a place of perspective. The calmness and simplicity of when the elements—water, fresh air, sunshine—combined with the view give people a sense of peace, serenity and possibly the realization that the world isn’t always as scary or fast as it seems.

An Experience Like No Other:
Tim encourages people to get out on the water and give it a try—see what fits you. An obstacle he encounters all the time is the irrational fears people have about water. “People have misconceptions and fears about sharks, alligators, or other creatures harming them. It’s a shame they are missing out on the real beauty of the area because of fear. It is truly an experience that no one can mimic or recreate. And once people get over their fear of what may be out there, they realize it isn’t so scary after all,” he said.

All in all, getting on the water is as easy as calling Higher Ground. “I love taking people to experience the beauty of the Beaufort River and around Yemasee, as well as Factory Creek.” There is nothing like being as close to the water as what kayaking and SUP offer; it is like being at one with nature. It can be challenging, but it is a fun way to stop being a spectator, and immerse yourself into the reason you moved here, or visited here, in the first place—the absolute beauty of this watery part of the world.

Higher Ground, Beaufort's Premier Outdoor Outfitter, is located at 95 Factory Creek Court on Lady's Island. They specialize in kayaking, SUP, hiking, running and backpacking. For more information call 843-379-GEAR (4327) or log onto www.HigherGroundOutfitters.com.

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