Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Park-worthy Post

For several weeks, we've endured the tease of early week forecast for 4-5 weekend swells, only to watch them back off during the course of the week, ending up with paltry 1-3 foot forecasts...and waves.  It's been four months - back to when E&Y_\ came out to visit us from Colorada - since we've had some consistent, clean head-high surf.  This week seemed to be shaping up differently, with the swell projections holding through the week.

But when I rose today, the Surfline wasn't very encouraging: "Glassy, but real inconsistent this morning. Expect clean, peaky waves staying workable when they do show."  The "inconsistent" and "when they do show" caused doubt.  Yeah, I was going to surf today, regardless, but - starving for some "real" waves while feeding off a steady diet of South Bay Smallies for the last month, younger son Joe was also driving down from his Venice abode and some other, irregulars to the Park, were planning on joining us as well.  

The 73 degrees when I left Pasadena at 6:30 wasn't so surprising, but I was surprised by sunshine and a similar temperature as I pulled into the Calafia lot - perhaps the first day this summer that hasn't been socked in.  However, the lot was nearly empty ... a VERY bad sign in the middle of summer with a good swell, early sun, hot day, warm water and clean conditions!  Bracing myself for disappointment, I got out of the car with camera in hand to the welcome sound of crashing waves.  It had been a long time since I'd heard that crash and rumble.  

None of the others had arrived yet, but a solid, head-high set swept in as I crossed the tracks to check it out.  Not surprisingly (given the empty lot), there was only one board out at the Main Peak and I was surprised to see a bodysurfer's head there as well.

As I watched, the shape was a bit inconsistent - see the smooth line above but the lumpiness below - but the size seemed to be pretty regularly shoulder to head high.  Within just a few minutes, Mark Ghattas and Joe had joined me at the rail to watch.  Below, Paul Tordella, the bodysurfer already in the water, checks out a head-high face as he swims out.
 Further South, at what we call LG1 (Life Guard stand #1), at the base of the trail leading down from the State Park campground, over a dozen surfers were clumped (photo below), while the closer, Main Peak, area, virtually vacant of surfers, beckoned strongly to Mark, Joe and me as we checked from the rail.  Today was not one for patient lingering, analyzing the best spot amidst surf chatter.  "Let's go!," Joe exclaimed and we were back across the tracks to the lot to slip into trunks.

Yeah, unquestionably, it was a trunk-it day.  Overnight, the water had only dropped (from a high yesterday of 72) to 69. The early morning air was almost sultry in its warmth, the breeze was a mild off-shore and the sun was shining.  (There even came a point during the session, which was a continual war against the persistent current out of the South when I actually felt myself sweating.)

And, what a session!  So welcome after a nearly four month swell/condition drought.  The shape was inconsistent.  There were some absolutely perfect, clean, straight line lefts.  But there were also closeouts and plenty of less organized waves like the one observed by Paul in the photo a couple of shots above.  But, it felt SO good to spot the corner on a 7 foot (face) left, drop in, and plane smoothly through tight, fast sections into an eventual cover-up and close out.  Or to find hollow rights, sun-lit tubes with Cottons Point in a telescope circle at the end.  

While one of my lefts was the best wave I've had in at least four months, and there were plenty of other great rides today, I give the wave of the day to Joe.  Yeah, he was the only one on a board (after his classmate, Sam Abeger, who came down from Newport to join us today stashed his board, donned his fins and swam out for some purist surfing - is that purest?), but still...Joe & I eyed a two-wave set lining up.  Joe started paddling out, but, to his frustration, I started towing a ride out by looping my hand through his leash.  I caused Joe to miss the first wave of the slightly overhead set, but #2 lined up and presented a peak and corner trailing left that surfers dream about.  Joe spun on his board, gave two swift strokes, and dropped in.  He made it through an early, fast, close out section and into a long line that stretched well into the inside break.  From the back, his head would appear as he stomped and lifted high on the face then disappear as he bent and drove down, gaining speed.  Hoots from throughout chased him as he finally appeared, way inside.  This is why we invest in the drive down to the Park!

We ended up with a great pod this morning.  I noted Sam Abeger, a high school classmate of Joe's now living in the Newport area, came down to join us, on fiberglass and, for the most part, of the body.  Shortly, "the Lawyer," Dave McPherson, also swam out, venturing down from Dana Point & Strands.  His usual companion, Eric Ackerman, headed up to the Huntington Beach sessions this morning instead.  Hugh got a great shot of the Lawyer: (click here).

They weren't all close outs, but a decent shot of the nice conditions come through in Hugh's shot of me: (click here).

Yes, Hugh joined us, too, camera in tow.  As always, thanks for shooting, Hugh!

OK, it's been a long time since the last blog entry. Yeah, I've been out, but after the phenomenal run we had from last September through April, it's really tough to put up entertaining discussions of waist-high, and/or wind-swept, lumpy surf.  I need it.  A day out there in anything is so meaningful.  But it's a little tough to write about.  Today was easy.
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