When you walk through the doors of Mountain 2 Island Paddleboard Company, you enter an island state of mind. The sweet aroma of coconut fills the air and reggae music plays softly from the behind the desk of this “irie” little seafoam green surf shack. Whether you are there to pick up a Duffy Boat for the day or just renting a stand up paddleboard (SUP) for a sunset paddle, you instantly switch into vacation mode.
Mountain 2 Island is owned and operated by Virginia native, Michael Valach. Longing to capture the feeling of enjoying life on a permanent holiday, Valach decided that the time had come to combine his passion for paddleboarding with his experience in the world of adventure sports. After 30 years working in the ski and resort industries, Valach had honed his expertise managing recreation programs and overseeing guest operations. The knowledge gave him the confidence he needed to take the plunge and launch his own business in 2015. Since he grew up on Claytor Lake, coming back home was a natural choice. He was able to understand the market here quickly and form partnerships with Blacksburg businesses.
Valach’s passion for stand up paddleboarding is contagious. “I try to paddle every month, but I’ll be honest, February is definitely the hardest month to get in a paddle session!” he laughs. He competes in about 10 Mid-Atlantic races per year as a recreational paddler including finishing the Chattajack 31-mile paddleboard race in 2013, 2014 and 2015. This guy definitely hit the jack pot when it came to setting up company headquarters. A waterfront location on the lower level of the Claytor Lake Marina building near the docks is the perfect spot.
With a cove right outside the front door, he and his staff are able to teach all kinds of classes – beginner paddlers, children, even pets are welcome to climb aboard an SUP and get comfortable on the water. If you are looking for a more rigorous activity, Mountain 2 Island regularly hosts fitness classes such as SUP yoga through In Balance studio.
Eight different brands of SUPs are stocked — everything from racing to fishing, to touring, and even inflatable SUPs for convenient transportation. For those who want to go fast and get more of a leg workout, they boast the new Hobie Mirage Eclipse Stand Up Pedalboard (you know, the one that works like a Stairmaster). Finally, the mother of all paddleboards — a six-person SUP — is perched against the dock just waiting for its crew.
For folks looking to purchase their own SUP, Mountain 2 Island can guide you through the process and let you try out many different boards to can find the perfect fit for your comfort and style. Aside from SUPs, they offer daily, weekend and weekly kayak and canoe rentals, pontoon boat rentals, and even Duffy electric boat rentals. Duffy boats allow you to relax and take in the scenery. Clocking in at about 7 mph, they are a great way to spend a peaceful day on the water and will last about five hours.
Free lakeside delivery and pick up is definitely a perk. “The transport service is well-received,” Valach says. Transport can be an issue for those vacationing on the lake without the means to haul a kayak or other water craft back and forth to their lake house. “Boats 2 You” is another service, delivering boat rentals to guests staying at Claytor Lake.
The next time you feel the urge to get away, even just for an hour or two, Mountain 2 Island can help you get there. Grab your friends and climb aboard the “Black Pearl” Pontoon Boat, or head to the lake after 5 p.m. on Wednesdays for the Weekly Social Paddle for $10. Dog lovers, be sure to get out and “SUP with your PUP” on pet-friendly, non-slip SUPs.
There are tons of new experiences waiting for you this summer and fall at Mountain 2 Island, and you don’t have to go very far to feel like you are very far away.
“Our mission is to spread the passion and love for the sport of Stand Up Paddleboard from the mountains to the islands and everywhere in between.” – Michael Valach
Daily 10 a.m. — 5 p.m.
Text by Emily Kathleen Alberts
Photos by Kristie Lea Photography