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Posts Tagged ‘Jade Cove’

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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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