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Archive for May, 2014

Surffight

I find myself once again at a loss to completely grasp what happen at Indicator Left at Rincon this morning.  Lately when such occurrences go down I just feel so let down by my fellow man and then maybe a little bit by myself for feeding into it.  This morning being that I was off and there was a severe lack of surf according to the buoys I decided to sleep in a little bit.  Fuck I have been having to get up at 5:45 most days to go to work.  Working back on mornings is a real bitch, although I have found it actually may allow me to get a bit more water time then working the dinner shift.  On the down side I am fucking tired all of the time.

I got up around 9am and was about to figure out some breaky when I got a text from my boy Trevor that he was going to paddle Indy Left and that it looked better then the grovel we had there last night (you can visit the surflog for more about that session, the 5/13/14 pm session entry).  Whatever, my plan was to go have a look around Ventura Harbor in the distant hope of scoring small, fun off shore Santa Clara.  I wanted to go to Jalama, but I lost my debit card in the atm machine last week and still have not gotten my replacement.  With no more then $23 to my name I didn’t want to burn up all my gas, especially at an average of $4.15 a gallon.  WHY?!? When I look out my window all I see in the channel is a line of oil rigs and I am constantly picking tar out of everything I own and off my body.  Citizens of the 805 should get some kind of gas discount for the inconvenience.

I decided to cruise to Rincon to have a grovel with Trevor.  I really didn’t have anything to do and it was already hot as fuck out, over eighty, might as well go cool off in the ocean.  I needed to kill about two hours to get on the other side of the high tide.  Sure enough Indy looked fun and Trevor was out there all by himself.  I paddled.  While I was stretching this other guy came down with his dog and decided to bare back it.   I know the air may have been warm, but the ocean up here is still just pushing the high fifties and that is being generous on most mornings.

Trevor enjoying the short lived solace of his solo session.

Trevor enjoying the short lived solace of his solo session.

He paddled right to the peak and started hassling and even burning Trevor.  I was doing a slightly extended stretch feeling a bit more stiff then usual from helping my buddy Anton move the previous evening.  I jumped in and since there was three of us and not a ton of set waves coming through wanting to warm up I proceeded to scrap the insiders.  They were fun and punchy reminding me of the tiny surfs I used have in the summer time back in New Jersey.  About thirty minutes into the surf or less this set wave comes right to me and I am in the perfect position for it.

The left at backside Rincon is tricky to line up as it shifts all over the reef with little notice.  I found that my current position had me a little deeper then I wanted to be for the size of the wave thus I paddled a little for the shoulder.  While I was doing this the other dude out there  decided to use my current situation as leverage to paddle around me from the outside.  I was deeper first and he just had three set waves in a row.  Technically it was my turn.  Being that there were just three of us out we were following or at least I thought we were, the principles of low crowd surfing etiquette.  It was after all the “gentleman’s shift” in which most of the participants follow good surfing conduct.
If you are able to surf between 9am to noon then odds are you have  custom tailored your schedule for a surfing life style as Trevor and I and most of the people I surf with. Most of the time we are pretty mellow dudes out in the water stoked to be enjoying a surf with like minded surfing enthusiasts.  This guy was on a whole different program giving us attitude out there from the get go.  Not looking back I committed to the wave and I guess “Mr. Angry” (as I will refer to him for the rest of this peice) did too.

Rincon514

Rincon Left is the only real easy access wave in close proximity of Santa Barbara that breaks in the summer. With that in mind it gets crowded fast and only offers a few peaks and a tight take off zone.

I felt him on my heels, but since paddling around is a dick move any time unless the spot is packed beyond maximum capacity (at which time I will bail or not even paddle out) or your in a contest where it is still a questionable action.  I have been in many of altercations when younger for paddling around. I did not pull out.  Indy Left is a short wave, three turns at the most and if someone drops in then you might as well just pull out the back cause even if they kick out the wave is pretty much over for you anyway.  With that in mind I up pumped and hit the lip.  Mr. Angry decided to kick his board out at me.  It hit me in my back leg though I was moving rather fast and it was not a hindrance to my riding the rest of the wave.

When I kicked out the back dude was paddling straight for me with an angry face.  I figured it was going to be the usual stare down, yelling and splashing match that can frequently happen in those situations.  More times then not the two guys involved have it out.  Paddle back out all mad at each other and two or three waves later realize how stupid the whole thing was and become friends or at the very least surf the session civilly.   As soon as he came paddling over to me he slapped me in the face and spit at me.  Immediately things took off to a very bad foot.  It appeared I was going to have to defend myself.

Keep in mind this guy may have been a tad taller then me and a solid 200 lbs and well built.  I was most likely going to get my ass kicked here.  He screamed something at me about how he was “born here in 1972 and that he remembers when I first moved out here and was a little Globe bitch and how I burned him at Rincon back then”.  Now what he is referring to with the “Globe bitch” thing is that when I started spending a ton of time out in SB around ’07 my main sponsor was Globe shoes and apparel.  By 2008 when I relocated out here full time Globe was attempting to take the surf industry by storm and had built a very solid team.

Here in Santa Barbara they picked up like six of us and we surfed together as group to make filming easier a good deal of the time.  It was not uncommon that if one of us paddled out we would be followed by at least two others if not the entire six and a camera.  Yes, that can get annoying to the regular surfing public.  At that time the surf biz was booming and half the guys in the line ups of California up and down the coast were sponsored so it was not like it was all that uncommon for a team to mob a break.  Ultimately the bottom fell out on the surf Industry by the summer of 2010 leaving 90% of us in the cold.

There is nothing like really good Rincon.

Me back in my Globe days at Rincon

Since I was not from Santa Barbara and always wore stupidly colored wet suits I seem to take the brunt of the negativity for the era of guys sponsored by Globe.  Whether I burned this guy at Rincon or not it was like 7 fucking years ago.  I have no recollection of the incident at all nor did recognize this neanderthal that was now attacking me in the water over a  shitty wave on a two foot day with three guys out at Indicator.   This is not the first time I was in such a circumstance.  I had a similar altercation with some crack head at Hollywood Beach back in October of 2010, which steadily got out of hand.  You can read about that one in the blog entry “Another Altercation in the Line Up“.

I blocked the next slap that came to my face and this time was knocked off my board.  Before I could come up Mr Angry was holding me under water in a futile attempt to drown me.  I bit his finger while he was in the process and broke free from the hold.  Gasping for air I surfaced a little disoriented in time to see Trevor paddling to my defense.  At the moment Trevor not being a small guy himself and currently rocking a scary beard got right in this dudes face.  I guess from what I was told he took a swing at Trevor.  The two of them started fighting and splashing water.  With the same “Your not from here”,  claimed Mr Angry; “I was born in Carp”, said Trevor.  This went on for bit till I tried to intervene with “lets just shut up and surf guys”.

There were some fun set waves coming in and we were missing them as a result of our tomfoolery.  This of course brought the wrath back to me where I was being berated with “where are your from”, over and over again.  Oh and I got slapped again.   At this point I was over it and called the dude out to the beach.  At that he splashed us, spitted at us and paddled  away.  Trevor and I paddled back to the peak and the whole thing started all over again.  Mr. Angry kept provoking Trevor calling him my lap dog and me his bitch.  Then he attacked Trevor again and at that point Trevor I called the guy out and we went into the beach to wait for him.  I picked up a solid rock that fit and was easily concealed by the palm of my hand.  This guy was obviously crazy and I was not about to take any chances.

We stood there at attention, arms folded across our chests waiting for Mr. Angry to come throw down with us.  A few sets went by and he didn’t.  I was temped to throw his stuff on the beach in the ocean in retaliation.  Trevor calmed me down.  After about 5 minutes I began yelling out to him to come in and fight.  There were a handful of Rincon regulars on the beach, whom I am in pretty well with.  They had seen the whole thing and asked what happened.  None of them really knew this supposed born and raised Rincon local.

He never came in and with added support from others we paddled back out.  It didn’t take long for it to heat up again.  He kept calling me a bitch.  I said “your the bitch, too afraid to come to the beach and fight two guys smaller then you and picking on a dude half your size over an incident that happened 7 years ago”.  He then told Trevor something incoherent on how “he was backing up his boy from New York on the slopes of Colorado” (Trevor lived in Colorado for a few years).  Finally an older guy I surf rather frequently with all over the area paddled and immediately got our backs helping refute the idiocy of Mr. Angry.  He started with the “1972 local since” crap again.  This older guy said to him “1968 bud, been surfing since you were in diapers”.

Then a handful other guys I also know who are also Rincon Regulars paddled out.  With no leg to stand on Mr. Angry bailed forewarning me that he was going to make a point to get me when I least expect it with out my friends to help me out.  Considering I have never seen the dude before in my life I am not too worried about it, though I am going to surf Indy for the rest of the summer armed and will cut this mother fucker if he tries anything on me again.  Quote of the session was “Maybe my dog should have fought his dog” from the older guy who paddled out pertaining to the whole incident.  The rest of the session I was a little worried the idiot was going to smash up my car in the lot or be waiting for us with reinforcements or god knows what.   The last thing I wanted was to have my car destroyed or be killed over knee to waist high Rincon Left.

Trevor and I made sure we left together back to the lot and were ready for anything.  Luckily Mr. Angry was gone and our cars were unscathed.  Unfortunately I am sure this is not the last I will have to deal with him.  What a bunch of bull shit.  All I wanted to do was grovel a few fun ones then go get some at Santa Clara River Mouth.  After he left I got a pretty cool little tube that I came out of.  Fuck negative people.  I feel sorry for their sad plight in life.

Was this really worth fighting about when it could have just as easily been shared?

Was this really worth fighting about when it could have just as easily been shared?

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***If you have just stumbled upon this piece and want to be brought up to speed before continuing on or need to refresh your memory on where we left off as a result of my lack of diligence and procrastination as a blogger check out Part 1: Big Sur, A Land of Endless Possibility and Part 2: Blind Exploration***

This wave definitely looked kill-able and from what I could tell although I was rather high up on a cliff.  I have learned many of time in my life that it always looks twice as inviting from a hundred feet up or so.  I eve had an idea on how I could get down to it involving an annoying but not terrible hike.  If I had a keen surf bud with me and not a girlfriend in tow I think I would have went for it.  Next time...

This wave definitely looked kill-able from what I could tell although I was rather high up on a cliff. I have learned many of times in my life that it always looks twice as inviting from a hundred feet up or so. I even had an idea on how I could get down to it involving an annoying but not terrible hike. If I had a keen surf bud with me and not a girlfriend in tow I think I would have went for it. Next time…

Finally after much traversing south down the Pacific Coast Highway 1 we came upon a small nondescript parking lot that by location appeared to maybe be Sand Dollar Beach.  I would also like to note that I had began to notice for the past few miles lots of areas that appeared to be surf-able while driving past.  Sand Dollar, being completely unmarked happened to be the first parking area I came to since I had started to see lots of surf.  I pulled up to a gate house that was closed, though the lot was open with an honor box for the $5 parking fee.  I was at a loss to understand what exactly I was paying five bucks for considering it was an unprotected beach, and unattended parking lot with no amenities other then a sketch ass water less prison style bathroom.

Its funny that in a place as remote as Big Sur there is still room to have your money taken from you around every corner.  I was surprised a fucking squirrel didn’t try and extort ten dollars from me to watch my car and “keep it safe”. Whatever, at this point my long search was over and surf was found.  Just to be sure I ran half way down the trail to the beach to make sure it was surf-able before donating my five smackers.  Yes, I am that fucking cheap.

Sand Dollar  Beach Big Sur

The $5 view. Certainly far from epic, but it was clean and surf-able. I was on it.

By this time it was early afternoon and a rather splendid one at that, especially for central California.  The sun was still out and the temperature warm.  Heather and I were stoked to spend a chill afternoon on the beach.  I pulled both my boards, my 5’10 and my 6’1 step up.  With no one out and nothing around except for huge cliffs and rock formations I had no way of gauging how big it was out there.  I don’t know what it is about once one gets above Point Conception, but all scale for actual wave size and power are out the window for me.  I guess I am and always will be a pampered Southern California surfer.

I love when I am about to paddle out at a surf spot and am greeted with a warm sign like this...

I love when I am about to paddle out at a surf spot and am greeted with a warm sign like this…

We loaded up and headed down a trail about 200 yards or so down to the beach.  As we descended down to the beach  I was able to get a better lay of the land.  As far as wave height, I still had no idea.  Could be head high, could be double overhead.  I would find out soon enough.  After coming down a few flights of stairs we found ourselves standing in the middle of a large beach closed in by a massive cliff headland to the north corner and a series of copious rock formations to the south end. The sand was of an almost dark green pigment.

I pulled out my step up since now at beach level the surf was with out a doubt a bit more size able then I had initially intended.  I did not know for certain, yet estimated that it was surely over head on the outside.  In a futile attempt to get the lay of the land I took a walk to the south side of the beach to see if there was anything with more shape then what the break had to offer.  Maybe I would find some tucked away reef or wedge between or even inside of the rock formations.  I found nothing of the sort, but between two of these enormous rocks was a deep water channel that looked as though it could provide an easy paddle to the outside.

Unsure of the potential hazards of taking that route I decided against it.  I really had no idea what was under the water there and to be honest did not want to find out.  The paddle out from the middle of the beach where we laid camp looked annoying and long, but seemed to me to be the safest way to go.  Also I have a saying I have always lived by my entire surfing life by: “if you cant make the paddle out through the impact zone then you have no business being out there”.  This mantra I especially try and hold to in places where clear channels exist.  The last thing any one who surfs should do is put himself/herself in a situation that is beyond said surfer’s skill or fitness level.  If you can’t handle the beating it takes to make it from the beach then you probably should not be out there in the first place.  I have seen and even saved one kook too many that got in over his head as a result of an easy channel access.

Sand Dollar Beach looking toward the north side.

Sand Dollar Beach looking toward the north side.

Keep in mind that the place was pretty deserted aside from one or two other couples on the beach.  The one dude that did have a board with him, had a long board and was bailing.  Judging from the conditions I assume he had a look and decided to not paddle.  Ironically the place is pretty much written up as the most user friendly beach for surfing in all of Big Sur, maybe with a jet ski.  It looked far from friendly, cold and a lot of work for little reward seemed more like it.  While exploring the beach I found all these pale greenish little rocks rounded and smooth from the ocean that looked like jade.   I am pretty sure it wasn’t although I read later on some where that Sand Dollar Beach is also called Jade cove because of the green stones that litter the beach.  People do on occasion actually find pieces of jade down there.  Whether the few I took with me are jade or not is beyond me.  They looked cool and fancied by them I slipped the little green rocks into my pocket and walked back to where Heather was chilling.

By this point I didn’t know what to do.  As I was watching it the surf conditions were steadily becoming more rough by the minute even though the wind was dead still.  Literally ten minutes prior it was glassy.  Big Sur, go figure.  The sensible part of me was ready to bag it.  I didn’t come up to Big Sur to surf anyhow and at least I tried.  It had been a fun a day.  Why not just hang out and enjoy the beach with my girl?  Unfortunately the obsessive compulsive side got the best of me and I found myself suiting up for no other reason then the fact that I was there and the initial objective was to get wet and that was exactly what was going to happen. I for whatever reason decided to put my step up away and pull my 5’10.

An unexpected yet exactly what I expected of the Big Sur surfing experience.  Big, windy, scary conditions with no one out but me.

Making the most out of the mess that it was out there.

I walked to the water’s edge all suited up hood and all.  I figured the water had to be cold and with nothing but white water as far as the eye could see I knew I was going to be spending more time under the water then on top of it.  The waves were breaking way out side as I began to work my way through the first inner bar.  Then I moved on to the second.  By the time I cleared this I had no idea where I was.  The current was all over the place.  From that vantage I had a good look at what the outside had on offer.  Overall it looked like a bunch of giant close outs that I did not have enough board under me to even deal with.  Meanwhile the second bar I was sitting on was offering some head to over head reform that was pretty sick looking and way cleaner then the outside.  It was a bit hard to line up with all the turbulence and current, but I made the most of what there was to surf.  I figured at the very least it was worth a twenty count.   Heather had the camera out and somehow managed to get a few shots despite all the mess.
BigSurfSeq2Believe it or not it was not as cold out there as it looked.  After an hour or so of working my arms in search of kill-able reform and figuring I pushed the shark attack envelope enough for one day I opted to call it quits.  I accomplished my goal and found a few waves.  I also learned a bit about the erratic and volatile conditions of Big Sur.  In particular an age old lesson I get constantly schooled on whenever I am north of Santa Barbara is that the surf is always way bigger, way meaner, way trickier, way more powerful then it looks from the beach.  You think by now after all  my travels, trials and tribulations this would have hit home by now.  It never does though proving Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.  I sort of feel like that is exactly what surfing is all about.  Sometimes we do get different results.  Maybe surfing is insanity?

A glimpse of what is to come...

A brief moment of victory in a session that was for the most part filled with defeat.

I floated in stoked to have gotten wet and ready to make the most out of what was left of the day with Heather.  To her credit she took all of the surf photos of that I have used in this piece.  Who would have thought a chick from Ohio with no beach or surf background could manage to snag some decent pics?  Go figure.  I came in and shed off my neoprene.  It was still warm and sunny on the beach.  Since I never have to time to actually hang out and relax on the beach at home this mini vacation was the perfect time.

I thought I left the hood behind along with New Jersey.  Cold water is still cold water.

I thought I left the hood behind along with New Jersey. Cold water is still cold water.

My plans of a nice sunny afternoon on the beach were quickly thwarted by a crazy dense fog that rolled in with the blink of an eye.  With this fog came a very eerie bone chilling cold air.  That was it for us, we were done.  Heather and I packed up and headed back to the car.  Both our tummies were rumbling for a repast back at the cabin in front of the fire place.  Of course we had absolutely no food and no idea where we could buy the antipasto spread we were looking to enjoy with our wine.  Our first stop was this chill bakery/restaurant ironically called “The Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant, where we procured a cup full of fresh local olives and two specialty croissants.    I figured just in case we find nothing else at the very least we could make a meal out of that.  I must say from the little I saw and ate from there I would highly recommend and I will with out a doubt stop there my next time through.

The warm fire we couldn't  wait to get in front of.  Unlike the broken hot tub that let us down.

The warm fire we couldn’t wait to get in front of. Unlike the broken hot tub that let us down.

Then we came across a bull shit deli/market that was technically hardly one or the other.  One thing I will tell you about Big Sur the scenery may be free, but everything else is far from it.  Be prepared to pay top dollar for everything.  Even though its only 30 miles from Carmel one  would think it was on the fucking moon with how over priced everything is.  Long story short (ha, that’s a laugh with anything I tell) we spent a combined $70 on olives, croissants, a cucumber, two tomatoes, cheese, salami, prosciutto, bread sticks and a bottle of syrah(which was one of the cheaper purchases).  That being said I made a pretty bad ass antipasto platter that paired great with the wine.  It was excellent way to end a fun day of adventuring.
bigsurplatter

 

Day two of our fun tilled Big Sur adventure was over.  Tune in next time for part 4 of this epic saga of a romantic getaway gone wild!  Well as romantic as a trip with a surfer can possibly be.  I promise more great pictures and maybe even some tamer surf?  Find out in Part IV: The Final Juant.

A glimpse of what is to come...a northern Emma Wood?

A glimpse of what is to come…a northern Emma Wood?

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Empty perfection can still be found in one of the most crowded corners of the earth.  The question is are you willing to pay the price of admission?

Empty perfection can still be found in one of the most crowded corners of the earth. The question is are you willing to pay the price of admission?

Let me start by explaining the fact that I have a few screws loose when it comes to conventional thinking.  I also have the drive, determination and retard reasoning to allow for my stupid whims to be seen through to fruition. As a result a  day as I am about to describe to you is a normal occurrence in the life of  Chris Lisanti.  If you happen to be friends with me and have a sense of adventure you may find yourself biting off more then you can chew as my boy Mike found out the hard way.

My morning started out  as any other day of waves does except a little earlier.  I had noticed with the current Santa Anna Winds and solid combo swell that it may be a perfect Jalama day.  My friend Mike was fresh off a Bali surf excursion and was pumped to keep the surf ball rolling.  On board for a sick day of surfing the plan was to meet at my place at 7 am a cruise from there.  I was even awoken from my slumber by a Jalama dream.

In the dream I was checking out where I wanted to surf from the usual cliff above the camp ground where I can see for miles in either direction with my binoculars.  The scene was just perfect.  Lefts marching down the beach in graceful harmony as glassy as could be.  The sun was rising thus lighting up everything in beautiful reds, yellows, purples and orange.  It was surreal.  Then all of a sudden I slipped and fell off the cliff.  I caught myself with my feet at the edge and was dangling upside down. Luckily my dad was there to rescue me (my dad lives in Jersey).  That’s when I woke up conveniently at 6:30 am.  Crazy huh?

I’m not one to analyze dreams or anything, but I am sure there is all kinds of hidden meanings in that one.   I would also like to note that it is rare that I have a dream I remember.  It’s a good thing for it though cause I forgot to set an alarm on my phone and would have totally over slept.  I fed my cats among other morning pre-surf chores just as Mike showed up.  We loaded up the Civic and were off.

Jalama11514

When Jalama is on it can be a pure surfing bliss!

Whenever I head up to Jalama I always stop at the Market Bagel Cafe for some bagels up on the Mesa.  It may be the best bagel in Santa Barbara.  Just don’t get scrambled eggs there.  The cook always lets them oxidize in the holding pan and are almost always green.  I have been cooking and holding large quantities of scrabbled eggs for years and have never ending up with them turning green. To each their own.  Maybe they are just really big Dr. Seuss fans.

Whenever I go with a bud whoever is not driving buys the bagels.  Mike ponied up to the counter and paid.  As we were leaving another customer stopped him and handed him a dollar off the floor that he claimed Mike had dropped.  Mike took it and said “This is our lucky dollar today”.  I am not really a superstitious person by any means though the dollar did change the routine and may have been ultimately the jinx.

We had an easy and uneventful drive up to the  Jalama turn off at the PCH 1 while Mike told me of all his Bali stories from the past month.  Not even a mile into the Jalama road taped over the camping  status sign was “Jalama Beach CLOSED”!  CLOSED!!! WTF!!!.  I slammed on the breaks and threw it into reverse to have a better look.  Sure enough there was an orange construction sign explaining that the park was closed till May 3rd for renovation.  Normally with most parks this is not an issue.  The majority of the time I park outside the park area and walk in to avoid paying the parking fees.  At Jalama that is not an option since all the possible spots to park are tow away zones and you do not want to even deal with that situation in such a remote area.

This is what pretty much the entire coast line north of Point Conception looks like for 100 miles at least. One word: Remote...

This is what pretty much the entire coast line north of Point Conception looks like for 100 miles at least. One word: Remote…

Pissed the gears in my head start turning on what our next move should be.  Truthfully around Point Conception there are not many options.  Either access is near to impossible due to private property or worse military, or its a gnarly closed out sharky beach break or both.  The winds were off shore and I really did not want to drive all the way back to Ventura and surf the same old crowded spots I always surf.  Then I thought, what about the Guadaloupe Dunes, between the dunes themselves and the river mouth there is always alright banks up and down the beach.  There was plenty of swell, too much even.

The large sandy area in the distance is the southern most end of the Guadalupe Dunes.

The large sandy area in the distance is the southern most end of the Guadalupe Dunes.

We agreed to give it a go and make lemonade out of lemons. On the way up, not having been there since 2012 with Pat I made a wrong turn and got a bit lost (check out the blog I wrote about the session in 2012 “Lemonade out of Lemons” Here.).  Mike pulled up our GPS on Google Maps and it appeared I was a few miles off on my judgement of where the westerly road to the Dunes was.  As we were looking at the map on his phone I noticed that there was a Point Sal State Park.  I have been staring at Point Sal on the map for years wondering about its surf-ability and access.  I always thought it was part of Vandenberg and there for inaccessible from land.  If a state park did exist then there must be access to it some where or what would be the point of having a park there.

The Google Earth Map of Point Sal that had my interest peaked.

The Google Earth Map of Point Sal that had my interest peaked. Notice the lack of roads leading to it…Also take note of the rugged terrain.

Keen on finding a new spot and some surf adventure we set out in search of this magical place.  All the roads we hit that should take us to the park were closed.  Mostly because they ran through Vandenberg.  Others because they had sustained too much damage to be worth repair for lack of use.  Despite our efforts we constantly found ourselves back at a golf course.  Mike wanted to ask around the pro shop if anyone knew how to get there.  It has been my experienced when looking for a surf spot asking directions is near to impossible.  If you happen to come across a surfer the odds of him telling you how to get to a secret spot are slim and if the person is a non-surfer unless they fish odds are they have no idea what or where it is you are looking for.  Sure enough just as I thought we lost about 15 minutes learning nothing new.

PointSal5

Mike and I about to make the “7 hour” loop…

Once again we resolved to go back for the dunes and again I made another wrong turn.  This time the road led us to a dead end with a marked trail head sign reading “Point Sal Trail…10 mile round trip”.  Now the debate ensued on what to do.  Keep in mind the majority of the surf spots I frequent are at least a half mile or more to get to.  Some of my favorites in the 2-3 mile hike range.  I figured what was two more miles give or take?  Mike looking for adventure and feeling in the mood for a walk in the bush concurred.  We still had our doubts about the whole thing as we were gearing up for the hike when a jogger came out of the entrance of the trail.  We asked him about the trail and he said it was not too bad and should only take about 2 hrs or so to the beach maybe an 1 hour or so if we took a short cut across private property he described to us.

Just like that it was on Mike and I had signed on to a retard mission into the complete unknown.  If there was ever a moment to reconsider it was with in the first 500 feet of trail or “short cut” as it climbed a brisk 15% grade on very uneven ground.  Let me mention the fact that it was in the 80’s, a hot day by Santa Barbara standards and Mike was wearing nothing but a pair of board shorts and sandals.  Determined we made the climb.  At the top maybe around 200 feet up or so we could see in the very faint distance the ocean.  This gave us the hope we needed to press on.  It also helped that it was currently offshore.

The initial ascent

The initial ascent.  That green pasture at the bottom is where we began…

After crawling under a barbed wire fence that clearly stated “No Trespassing” on it we continued now on a steady trek down hill towards the ocean.  Of course we knew it was not going to be that easy considering we saw more hills to climb between us and the ocean.  It looked a distance away, but when your in a situation where everything is so vast it is very hard to figure scale.  I always find the best way to proceed is to just follow your course and see how fast the target destination begins to come up.  If one finds he has walked an hour and his destination still looks as far as it did when he began then its a bit further then anticipated.  With this in mind onward we trekked.

The long road ahead.

The long road ahead.

Our spirits were high being that it was still early in the voyage and we had a good trail to follow.  Before long we were led into a wide open vale where the trail tapered off.  It was open ground and we continued our heading towards the beach.  We soon realized we were on course to the dunes and not the point.  A vigorous redirect took place through sharp thickets, poison oak, which I am at the moment beginning to see the effects of on my extremities, and a bit of a climb.  As it turns out we were were following a cow pack trail and no longer one made by humans.  At this point we were pretty much out in the wilderness.  There were deer running around to the south of us, cows to the north and most likely both mountain lions and coyotes stalking us in the bushes.

Not knowing what direction to take I left my stuff and scurried up a hill like a mother fucking jackal to get my barrings. At the top I was about 100 feet above all of the surrounding area in front of me.  I could see that there was a dirt road of some sort in the distance and what looked to be a rather decent cow path to it.  The plan was to head for the road as it appeared to head in the direction of the point.  I figured we had maybe a mile and a half to go.  Mike and I talked it over and decided at this point we had already come so far and it was shorter to keep going then to turn around.  Of course this decision was made not considering the hike back after surfing with wet gear.

We kept walking and walking.  I began to notice a few vultures circling above our heads to my dismay.  One thing was for sure I was not going furnish a repast for one of them. Maybe a shark, but certainly not a vulture.  How many fucking human predators are in this area?  I should have just stuck to Rincon.  As we drew nearer to the road I noticed a strange red thing in the distance and two big steers.  I took my binoculars out of my pack and had a look.  The red thing was some type of ATV.  Weary of being chased down by an angry rancher I took a scan of the vicinity, but saw no signs of people.  Thinking the rancher may have left it there we continued on making sure to by pass the cows from a distance as to avoid a charging.

Finally we got to the road and were heading down it at a good pace when I stopped dead in my tracks.  There was someone working in the tress near the small stream through the vale. I began having horrid thoughts of “Deliverance” and was a bit nervous since I do have a “real pretty mouth”.   Mike looked back at me and I was like dude “Deliverance”!  “If they we can see him then he can see us.  When you are trespassing on private property the best case scenario is that the cops are called.  In such a remote area you never know what some crazy redneck rancher is going to do.  I was calculating an alternate route around.  Mike was pretty dead set on continuing on.  We could always just play dumb that we lost the trail and with the surf boards it was believable.  Its not like it was far from a lie since we were fucking lost and had deviated from the trail.

Our best don't fuck with us faces

Our best don’t fuck with us faces

We approach the work area and there is not just one dude but three.  On their truck it said “The Land Conservatory of San Luis Obispo County”.  My first thought was what was this the fucking twilight zone? Did we walk through a fold in the universe and end up in SLO?  I damn well know we did not walk the 30 miles or so it was to the county line.  My next thought was these dudes should probably be chill if they are tree huggers.   Mike approached them on one side of the truck while I hung back ready to strike if need be. At first they were hesitant to let us pass saying we were on private property.  Then they saw we had boards, two of the guys being surfers themselves became steadily stoked and thus sympathetic to our plight.

Turns out they were hired by the Land Conservatory to fence off a portion of property that had recently been donated to them before transferring it to Santa Barbara County.  Mike later asked them what their first thought when we came upon of them was and they said “I can’t believe that guy (Mike) isn’t wearing shoes”.   By the time we came across the group we had already walked about three miles and had been on it for over 2 hours.  They let us pass and told us the best way to go if we wanted to get to the beach.  Apparently they had brought boards when they first started working on the site, but were always too tired to make the 300 ft decent and subsequent climb back up after to surf.

After such commitment we had to get to the beach if not for any other reason then the accomplishment of seeing it.  We walked another 100 yards or so when we came upon a shaded clearing where the Conservation guys had made camp. Taking a sit down on a downed fence post we split a grape fruit and some water.  We had three bottles to us and strict rationing had commenced.  Behind us we heard someone yell out “You guys want some peanuts?”.  We looked back and the workers had decided to break for lunch.  We headed over to the their camp where one of them was nice enough to offer us a ride to the beach in the ATV.  Jumping at the chance we loaded up and were off.

The view from the top of the bluffs of the beach just south of Point Sal.

The view from the top of the bluffs of the beach just south of Point Sal.

A short albeit bumpy ride we pulled up to the edge of this giant sand bluff over looking a pristine crescent beach about a mile long.  There was surf! Clean surf no less.  We were about 300 ft above it according to the dude who gave us a ride and since he built a fence up it I trusted his insight.  From our vantage I could tell it was big, definitely bigger then what I had in my bag.  Even my step up would have been a stretch on the sets.  At this point we had to go for it.  Dude gave us a ride and was pumped for us to get a surf.  Plus we had worked so hard for so long to get there.  A surf was eminent.  It looked pretty ride-able from my vantage.

The Conservation guy said if we wanted he would come pick us up at 3 pm when they were getting ready to quit and they would give us ride out to the car.  “Go have yourselves a session and just make sure your back by three” he said.  I looked at Mike, we were both a little unsure on how to proceed and then I gave our driver a shakka and began the decent down.  The sand was so loose it was like skiing and kind of fun.  I was not thinking about what a bitch climbing back up would be.

The long way down and even longer up!

The long way down and even longer up!

The decent went rather fast and could not have taken more then about ten minutes.  On the way down I took in the surfing situation.  It seemed the largest peaks were breaking along serious rips in the center of the beach.  To the north end near a rocky head land it seemed the most user friendly and surf-able on my 5’10.  The sets were solid double over head with some even larger clean ups.  The waves were breaking hard. It looked like an unruly Hawaiian beach break as the trades begin to pick up. Powerful was the word.

We also so a group of humpback whales playing in one of the rips.  They were breaching and sticking their heads up out of  the water, flapping their tails.  It was like fucking Animal Planet out there.  To think lazy people pay money to go out on a whale watching excursion. All they had to do was embark on a strenuous hike through the bush for three hours and they could have seen it for free.  The whales and beauty of the beach were enough to make all the suffering worth it for me.

This wave is way bigger, way heavier and way faster then it looks...

This wave is way bigger, way heavier and way faster then it looks…

With no human scale and the vastness of everything around it was hard to judge size, but I knew it was  going to be no picnic out there.  I was considering bailing on the session when I turned around and saw that Mike had already suited up.  I guess it was on!  We shot for the north corner of the beach cause like I said it seemed the most manageable. Of course everything on the central coast is deceiving and I soon found myself in a whirlpool of rips, meanwhile getting pounded by nonstop sets.  The water was freezing and what was coming in was very fast or closed out and riddled with a strange back wash.  That being said there were a few gems to be had.  If you had a ski and were doing step offs I think there would have been some amazing barrels to be had.

In our case it was nothing but a beating.  Mike took tons on the head in the impact zone before heading in.  I picked off a few small corners from insiders before deeming it not worth the risk of injury or board breakage.  Although if I did break my board then I would not have to carry it back up with me.  Damn right I was leaving it there.  After our defeat, though like I said it was far from do-able with our current equipment and means we chilled out on the beach and ate the last of our food.  I could have made a session out of the conditions, but if I were to get hurt the resulting rescue would have been a real hassle.  One thing I have gotten a handle on in my older age is the risk to reward ratio.

Resting up before the long climb up that sand hill you see behind me.

Resting up before the long climb up that sand hill you see behind me.

Later thanks to some internet research we would find out that the spot was called Magics and is rarely surfed. The few first hand accounts we could find about the place seemed similar to ours, a long hike for very difficult waves and hardly worth the effort.  I would agree and it is rather unlikely I will ever find myself back at Magic’s anytime soon.  I guess the point itself is Vandenburg property making access illegal except from the water.  After a short break I checked my phone and it was 2pm.  If we were going to catch our ride back we needed to get a move on.  The last thing I wanted was to be left stranded and have to walk about five miles back.

We started to climb back up the dunes and soon found that between the steep incline, heat coming off the fiery sand and the sand avalanche the climb was causing that it was going to be a very challenging 300 foot ascent. I was on point with Mike close behind.  He soon found it to be even more difficult being in sandals and having all that burning hot sand falling over his feet.  The end result was severe lag on his part.  I looked at my phone and it was nearly 2:20.  Worried for a loss of our ride I began picking up my pace into high gear leaving Mike behind.  I went back into jackal mode and all spastic like climbed to the top.

About 3/4’s of the way up it became heart break hill.  Each time I thought I was at the top there was another top to get above.  This went on for about three tops till I made it to where the ATV tracks from our drop off and current RV point for pick up.  I put my gear down and relaxed waiting for Mike.  About twenty minutes passed and I didn’t see him.  Unfortunately due to the three extra tops and the steepness of the bluff I was unable to see him for some time.  When he finally did get with in eye shot he was in bad shape.  Falling down every few steps and making really tough progress.  He had put on his booties for the majority of the climb to prevent the burning.  Still he was pretty torn up.

I helped him with the final leg grabbing his board for him.  We sat and waited for our pick up and consumed the last of our water just hoping the boys didn’t decide to leave us for dead.  As we were about to lose hope we heard the distant sound of a motor and then saw “Big Red” (the ATV) and let out a sigh of relief.  We were spared the grueling walk back to the car.  How much easier it was to just ride the distance out.  What took hour of arduous hiking now was wrapped up in a matter of twenty minutes.  Back at the car we looked at each other and could not help but feel a bit accomplishes though exhausted.   There you have it, an hour and half of driving, three hours of walking and fifteen minutes of surfing and not one good wave to show for it.  That is why the whole day can be summed up as a retard mission.  Whooooot!

 

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