Saturday, October 3, 2009

Weekend Parking

The dilemna was which day to pick for the sojourn to the Park. Out of town the last two weekends, three weeks ago I was skunked when we found a decent swell totally blown out junk, so I'd been dry for four weeks. Will be gone again next weekend and the prospect of going from Labor day to Oct 17 without surf just couldn't be accepted. Forecasts, though, made it tough: clearly, Sunday would have the better swell - perhaps even head high while Saturday was starting small, barely waist-high, and growing...but Saturday was supposed to be calm while a stiff onshore seemed likely for Sunday. Adding to Saturday's risk was a 9am high of plus 5-1/2.

Decided on Saturday: daunted by the prospect of frustration from an hour's drive, only to find a good swell blown out again, repeating my last visit to the Park - one of only a couple of times that I've made the jouney without gettint in - I decided warm water, small swell and good conditions promised for today were the better bet. Looking at the swell models, it appeared that a little energy should be rising between 8 & 9, hopefully to push through the tide.

2/3 the of the way from Pasadena to San Clemente, the cell rings - EY is a the Park & it's flat; he'c calling to tell me not to bother. Can it be??? I tell him I'm going to come down & swim, anyway, noting that it might start to get better around 8. EY heads to grab some coffee & pastry and await my arrival.

I get to Calafia, and EY's there, with a croissant croque-monsieur for me. Atop the steps, the view South to main peak and LG1 shows glassy surface but knee-lappers. A few sticks out at LG1. I turn to check Riviera to the North as an unexpected, chest-high set arrives, 1/2 up to Riviera; first wave EY's seen in an hour, but enough for me! Neil has joined us and goes to move his car and suit up as we head out.

It feels strange, turning right instead of left, after descending the stairs; it may be 2 years since I surfed Riviera. Nonetheless, the peak a few hundred yards to the North was clearly better & more consistent than "main peak" or LG1 to the South. Trunking for perhaps the last time until next summer, it feels good to enter the cool, 70-degree water. A soft breeze blows offshore, but the bluffs keep the surface glassy inside the break.

EY and I find it amazingly fun; waist and chest-high lines are pitching lips over a glossy surface illuminated as the sun clears the bluff. Corners appear and we take turns - there's no one else in the water from LG1, a half-mile South to Riviera, a few hundred yards further North. Couples stroll on the sand and women jog on the path beside the tracks. Everyone seems to have the same idea - today is Summer's farewell. The last of the 70 degree water; sunny mornings; Southern swells.

Mark appears on the shore, followed shortly by Neil
and Hugh. Hugh fishes in his backpack before coming out and finds his waterproof Canon digital; wades out with camera instead of fins. The calm maintains the surface gloss as EY, Mark, Neil and I exploit the smallies for the camera, checking the shots between rides. The first few waves were the best, before the tide peaked, bu all of us remain continually surprised how fun the surf is, when so little was expected.

Finally, after a couple of hours, the wind shifted to onshore and conditions rapidly deteriorated. Another 1/2 hour and we were exiting, as Steve Short arrived and swam out.

It wasn't a classic surf day. The largest waves never got over chest-high. But it was the last of Summer and I'll remember it.

I made the right call.
(click on pictures for full size)

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