I poked my head out from under the covers to sounds of sinking birds and the wind rustling through the trees. It was freezing in the cabin post fire going out sometime in the night. I got a breath of the fresh crisp air before snuggling back under the covers with my baby. Fuck it was cold. Santa Barbara has some cold to it in the early morning, but this felt like straight up winter time. In no rush why not sleep in a bit. I spend and have spent nearly every single morning for the last 23 years of my surfing life getting up early for waves. When I have an opportunity I relish in the luxury of being able to kick back, relax and not worry about rushing off to the next surf session.
That being said the call of the ocean to a surfer within a reasonable distance to the ocean is likened to the drums from the game in the movie “Jumanji”. Just knowing that rumble is out there is enough to give no rest to the keen. Despite being all warm and happy next to my girl half my mind was thinking about what surf potential was out there. By ten I had us up and ready to get on the road for a look about. My thoughts on the whole day was it was a vast amount of coastline to be scoured for both sightseeing and surf. So why not just pick a direction and wander about and see what turns up.
As I stated earlier in Part I I had absolutely nothing to go on besides a bad surf guide written by Surfer Magazine that my boy Mark left at my pad like 4 years ago. If you ever see Surfer Magazine’s Guide to Northern and Central California Surf Spots don’t buy it, accept it as a gift or if you happen to find it in the trash leave it there. If a buddy leaves it at your place mail it back to him or use it as kindling as I should have. In the end it’s my own damn fault for not taking the time to research it better. I literally own three California surf guides and had a central California AAA guide my dad left at my place this past fall. Some how I failed to take anything with me besides the aforementioned bull shit surf guide. The only map I had was the entire state of California Map I keep in my car, on which the Big Sur area is about the size of a fucking nickel.
With a lack of any real plan or guidance I decided to go about things the old fashioned way. I figured Heather and I could meander about the PCH looking for the few spots the surf guide happened to mention. The closest spot to where I was staying was the Big Sur River Mouth inside of Andrew Molera State Park. From what I read there may have been a decent river mouth bar and a few possible reef breaks with in the vicinity. We pulled into the park entrance and it was $10 to get in. I asked the guy if it was worth it and he said he had no idea, but that the only foot bridge over the estuary to get to the beach had been washed out. To even check the surf I would have had to paddle across about a 100 yard creek with god knows what kind of sea life in it. Not feeling that situation I declined. The ranger referred me to Pfeiffer State Beach further south of there.
Rather then go by some obviously surf clueless ranger’s suggestion I got back on the road and headed north. The guide had mentioned another beach that was considered the first surf-able spot in the northern end of Big Sur, Garrapatta State Park. I knew that we would at least pass Point Sur on the way and countless other sites of interest. Yes I was technically scouring the coastline for a wave to ride, but we were also doing a bit of exploration in general. Sometimes the best way to take in a place is by just ambling about. Point Sur was a bit of a let down considering that access is restricted on the south side and the actual point to military and government personnel only and the north side is private property with plenty of no trespassing signs and barbed wire. I read in a leaflet about Point Sur back at the cabin that tours are given of the light house only on Saturdays from like 10 am to like 3 pm and a reservation had to be made a week in advance. For this trips purposes it was no meant to be. Once again that is alright thus giving me an excuse to make another trip, not that I would need one.
In a lot of ways Point Sur was a bit like Morro Rock except connected to land. It was shame access to it was beat. None the less it was still a nice vista. As far as cool stuff to see on the way north the sights were endless and almost too much to take in. We passed over historical bridges, saw a cool looking sea cave, and overall just something rather incredible for the senses around every turn. Everything is just so amazing down to the opaque blue color of the ocean. If not for the thick jacket covering my body I would have thought I was in a tropical locale.
We pulled up at Garrapatta and I could see the waves rolling in from the side of the road. One thing was for sure the waves were pretty solid. It was also rather clean and throwing from what I could tell. I literally ran down the trail in excitement thinking I was about to score a solo barrel fest. Not that the idea of surfing by myself in very sharky waters was a settling thought. Fuck it, if it was really as good as I thought, it was worth the risk. When it comes to sharks I always go back to this crazy Aussie body boarder I used to chill with motto: “mate I reckon if you get taken and survive you will never have to pay for a beer for the rest of your life and if you don’t, then no worries”. I have had a good run in this life anyhow. If my number was drawn so be it. There are far worse ways to die then doing what you love. Becoming part of the food chain is a useful death after all.
I literally ran down the trail to the cliffs edge and right away I was gripped with the harsh reality that what I was face to face with was more of a gnarly shore dump then a sick barrel. If I were a sponger I would have been all over it or if I felt like getting my ass handed to me for a sicky or two. In water just around 50F I was not about to go for a beating. The place definitely had real potential. Maybe on a different swell angle, tide, throw in some offshore wind and it could be a solid break. That may as well be the greatest mind fuck to surfing out in Big Sur the endless potential and the question “what if….?”. Either way it was another beautiful site to take in and totally worth the drive. I bet one could spend a life time surfing this coast and never even scratch the surface.
What little understanding I had of the geography of Big Sur I figured there was not much more to see if we continued north thus we cruised back south and got a little lunch and re-grouped. At this point I really wanted to get wet. If you seriously surf then you totally understand that after a certain period of time passes where you are completely surrounded by waves and water and have not paddled the itch becomes uncontrollable. My book and other pre-trip research mentioned something about a Sand Dollar Beach. Actually, I surfed with some random guys at New Jetty who were from up that way and had said a bit about a Mill Creek also. Later I would find out that was considered one of the better waves in the area although I never made it there myself. The plan was set to head for this Sand Dollar beach.
South we drove, and drove and drove. I really can have absolutely no understanding of distance at times especially when I don’t have a map. About half way there we managed to stumble upon this sick waterfall that literally dropped down onto this picture perfect crescent beach into the ocean. It was one of those sights you would see in a magazine or a poster on a wall. The funny thing was I only pulled over cause I saw a few cars parked on the side of the road and my surf instincts told me there might be something worth a look. Whenever I am in a location where there is surf I always check out a few cars parked near a nondescript beach access. Its how I have managed to stumble upon some of the best spots in my life. Plus the lay of the land looked like it could be a cove of sorts.
We got out of the car after having to wait for Heather to change back out of her heels and into her hiking shoes. The swap initially made for lunch so she would look her best at the tiny tourist/country bumpkin/camping general store near our cabin. Absurd, maybe, but it is also one of the reasons I love her. Would you expect anything less from me? We followed this little path a ways before coming out into a clearing in full view of this breath taking cove. There right in front of us was this picturesque waterfall. Ironically my buddy Diego had shown me a picture of this spot when I told him I was coming up to Big Surf. Now here I was staring right at it. If not for a little dumb luck and blind fate I could have missed out completely. I think the way we found the fall made it that much more special to us.
At this point I must say it had been a rather complete day for most. For me, well, my hair was still dry and I was jonesin’ for a surf. I found a little map near the falls that showed we were not far off of Sand Dollar Beach and a chance to ride a wave or two in some capacity. Tune in next time for Part III, the sketch that is surfing in Big Sur. Sorry for the horrible delay between segments, but I have been super busy, lazy and what not. This shit takes time to compose as weak ass as it is. I hope you have enjoyed it thus far. If you missed Part I check it out here.