Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Surf Exile

Waking up I realize it's a free day...no wife, no kids, no work, no way! It's dark out still, I could roll over and go back to sleep or...I get up and check the report:


Hmmm...not the greatest, but wind dropping, swell holding, and decent period. I grab the gear toss it in the back of the car, slide the 7'8" semi into the back and fly. As the sky begins to lighten, there's not a cloud in the sky...even if the surf isn't epic the day is sure to be a good one.

Pulling up to the trailhead, there's not another car around...that's good and bad. It's early, so pretty likely I'm the first taker. But it's a weekday, and I'm surfing a pretty rocky, remote spot that doesn't get alot of takers even on summer weekends with the hordes opting for 'the pool', 'crossups', '3 rock' or 'Connie's. "Trench" breaks right, off of a broken headland into a shallow channel that, at over 10', may not provide that easy access you long for. I consider moving on to those 'safe' spots, but pull my board from the car, slip on the pack, pull up my hood and head down the trail.

Despite the last couple days of sunny weather, big drops fall from the canopy of the huge firs, cedars and spruce that make up the coastal forest here. The river is roaring through chutes choked with fallen tree trunks, the sound of the river eliminates any chance of hearing the surf. You see it first, feel it if it's big and hear it only once the river and trail diverge near the beach. As I come out of the forest, I see lines and a breaking wave, there's no vibration so it's not too big. As I move closer to the water I finally hear it, a distant concussion that only a hollow wave makes. I get that nervous feeling, giddiness mixed with a kind of fear, fear mixed with desire, desire mixed with hesitance. I come down the rocks onto the flat exposed reef and look...it's doable, big...but definitely surfable.

Walking down towards the north end of the small cove I head up to the high tide line and set up on a huge burled root ball. I suit up, watching the waves jack on the rock shelf, explode on the rocky cliff and reel down the beach about 50 yards in a solid tube before petering out in the channel. A couple of the bigger sets mush out in the channel, but make it through and reform into a tight bowl that closes out in the shallows. It'll be fun and add about another 25 yards to the wave, but if you don't get out in time...it's a definite board breaker, not to mention getting bounced off the rocky bottom there could break your body too!

I watch for about 15 minutes, stretching, visualizing, mindsurfing, psyching myself up and timing the paddle. If you don't get it right, the reward will be a serious pounding. I head down to the water, take a few deep breaths, waiting for the moment. I move forward, hopping waist high surge that has surprising power. I try to hold my position, inch forward, make up lost ground. A head high foam ball approaches, diminishing...I jump over it, onto my board...there's nothing behind it, so I start scratching. I stroke as hard as I can, building momentum. A smaller wave breaks outside of me, I duckdive it and popping out of the water start pulling hard again. A couple more small waves come through, but no problem...I am outside in the calm of the channel. I sit up for a moment, adjust my hood, check and retighten my leash, catch my breath and watch as a solid overhead set explodes to my right on the reef. Laying down I paddle towards the peak...

Unfortunately, this is where I woke up. Even though the wife is out of town, the kids aren't...and it's a school and work day...Damn!

Despite efforts, no go today...trapped...deep, deep in the valley!

Local Report:
Nice weather and solid waves the last few days.

Long rides but a monster paddle. When that tide turns around and starts filling in you had better be in some kind of shape if you want to be in the right spot. I think I swam 1 to 1.5 miles in place today.