Trestles Surf Shower

31 03 2010

Matt Parker is one of those natural geniuses.  He runs a website development company.  He shapes custom boards for his own brand, Album Surfboards.  He was the first dawn patroller to break out the electric scooter. 

Matt Parker -- the genius inventor

Here is his latest genius —- the surf shower. 

To many, it may look like a simple plastic water bottle.   In fact, that is exactly what it is.   And, it is recyclable.  He stuffs it in his pack and gets a thousand uses out of it.  After a couple hours of shredding the waves, he fills up the bottle with saltwater and uses it to rinse off his feet and wetsuit.  

Trestles Surf Shower Demonstration

Seems simple.  That’s the beauty of it.  An organic invention from home.  No expensive trips to REI.  No waiting for FEDEX for a PAYPAL-infused delivery from western North Dakota.  You just pull it out of the recycle bin. 

Genius, pure genius.   Maybe we could put a surf sticker on it and sell it for $20. 

I guess we’ll be seeing more of these.  A high-class shower without getting soaked.

You can catch Matt at or on Facebook at

A Surf Blog Has to Have Surf Photos!

29 03 2010

TSC.COM – “So David,  have you checked out my blog yet?”

David – “Yeah, didn’t you say it was something like Trestles Surf or something like that?”

TSC.COM – “Right, that’s it.   What do you think?”

David – “I think I must have had the wrong site, the one I was looking at had a bunch of junk about water and creeks and stuff.  It didn’t have any surf photos or anything.”

In honor of David:

This video, produced by jpsproductions405, was shot on July 24, 2009, one of the biggest days in 2009.  It’s the swell I totally missed while backpacking at 12,000 feet.  Remember those videos of the SUP’s surfing The Wedge?  It was that swell.

It’s too painful for me to watch what I missed, but I hope you enjoy it.

Thank David for this one.

If you have Trestles surf photos that you think would be good for others, zap us a line at  This site is for you and the rest of the Crowd.

Hydrogeomorphology 101 at Trestles

25 03 2010

Some may think that is a big word for surfers.   But, Trestles surfers probably understand this topic better than most people.  That’s because we surf everyday in a physics laboratory where this concept is at work.

Hydrogeomorphology is the study of how land forms are changed by the flow of water over, under, and through them.  San Mateo Creek, as one of the last pristine watersheds in Southern California, wends its way through the hills and coastal plains, carrying those same landforms with it to the ocean.  In this post, let’s look at San Mateo’s hydrogeomorphology at a macro scale.   In coming days, we will drill down to a more micro level.

At the macro scale, San Mateo Creek “braids” its way through Camp Pendleton.  In wet years, the alignment of the creek bed changes from one side of the flood plain to the other as it meets the resistance of downstream boulders, logs, and vegetation.  Some years it hugs the cliff near Cristianitos.  The next year it may flop over the south bank, eating away at the old tomato fields further into the base.  If the area is ever developed (like with a tollroad) and the creek is channelized, the beauty of the floodplain will be reduced to a thin ribbon instead of a rich habitat-covered canvas.  And, the natural processes will be adulterated.

San Mateo Creek Flowing to the Sea

Further downstream, where the creek meets the ocean, an estuary is formed.   While there is some variation in definitions, an estuary is where fresh water meets ocean water.  In that zone, the biological resources are rich.  Have you ever noticed how the flocks of seagulls and terns sit on the rocks  where the creek flows onto the beach?   They are looking for that free meal.  Estuaries generally have a free exchange of salt and fresh water, especially when the tides surge water back and forth.  That can happen when the creek has broken through the berm and flows freely.   That is what has been going on for the last two months.

On Tuesday, the creek stopped flowing to the ocean, at least on the surface.   The only creek water making it to the sea will flow underground through the sand berm.  So, before our very eyes the mouth of San Mateo Creek will transform from a tidal wetland/estuary into a natural lagoon.  The emergent marsh vegetation (cattails and bulrush) will return around the perimeter and eventually surround the lagoon, blocking it from view, until the next El Nino storms blow out the berm.

The Rebirth of the Lagoon -- No More Flow to the Sea

As you watch geomorphology in action in the coming months, keep an eye on the flora and fauna as well.  Have the steelhead safely made it upstream through the lagoon to their spawning grounds?  Have waters stilled enough to allow the turtles to poke their heads above the mirror-like water surface?  Oh, and will the beavers start building new lodges for their families?

In future posts, we’ll move on to how other hydrogeomorphologic forces work in our own backyard.  Rock on!

Tollroads Are Already Driving Piles (of Something)

21 03 2010

So raise your hand if you know Trestles and you don’t think a highway interchange just south of Cristianitos will impact our beloved surf spot.

That’s what we thought.

The "New" Tollroad Alignment

If you look at this new alignment from the Transportation Corridors Agency (TCA), which at least avoids going down the spine of the San Mateo Creek portion of the state park, you can see that the interchange is only moved yards southeast of the originally planned alignment (the green dashed line).  And, now instead of the state park, the alignment impinges on the Marines’ training area.

For decades, we have seen that the only thing that keeps San Diego and LA from merging into one city is Camp Pendleton.  If you keep chipping away at its boundaries, eventually you won’t be able to use this critical  base for its intended purpose.  And, the only open area break along the So Cal coast disappears.

There has to be another answer.  Yes, it will cost more, but if concrete automobile tracks are the only way to move people, then we will just have to pay more to build them.  We can’t just keep using all our open space to build infrastructure just because it is less expensive.  This doesn’t even go to the likely impacts to Trestles and the local ocean environment.

If we can’t find a better answer, we will all end up paying the toll, for a long long time.

Another Endangered Species at Trestles?

17 03 2010

Was that Bob or Blob?

New!– Go to The Blob Fish Page above in the secondary banner for more blobfish (or blob fish) fun.

With epic weather and waves finally picking up, do you feel like a blob today?  Just guess how this guy feels.

It’s a blobfish.  They live in the deep water off Tasmania.

I first saw this at a conference a couple weeks ago.  Dr. Robert Wilkinson, a researcher with the Donald Bren School of Envorinmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara, was telling us how global warming is causing drastic changes in water resources and the world’s ecology.  No certainty as to whether it is endangered, but it definitely got everyone’s attention.

We get a lot of fish stories from the Trestles Crowd, but I haven’t heard anything about this one.

Makes a great screen saver!  Just don’t eat anything greasy for breakfast.  And, not sure what is hanging out of his mouth.

Here’s some more info:

Flow Check At Trestles

15 03 2010

This photo is a week old.   But, the point is that San Mateo Creek continues to flow naturally under the trestles and out to sea at Uppers.  As of this photo, the creek had been flowing non-stop for about six weeks.  Hopefully, the sand flow and bottom changes set us up for another epic summer for waves.

San Mateo Creek Reaches to the Sea

In the photo, the embankment is about seven feet high.  So, there has been some significant sand cutting.   Just downstream, the creek cut an “oxbow” in the sand.  What a sight to see, right here in Southern California.

Being a water engineer, I’m used to gaging water flow just by looking at it.   I’m guessing this flow was about 50 cubic feet per second.  Not bad for an ephemeral creek. 

Time to break out the fly rods for those steelhead.  [Just kidding, our friends at Trout Unlimited and Center for Biological Diversity].

Beaver Watch In San Mateo Creek

15 03 2010

Are there really beavers in San Mateo Creek?  Some people say “gnaw.” 

Looking Upstream in the San Mateo Watershed

Still there are those photos of the dead beaver in the cage, as shared by Surfline.  For sure, the possibility has drawn curiosity.  By far, the greatest number of internet searchers stumbling across this site were looking for beavers.  Though some of those searchers were more interested in beavers in San Mateo County than San Mateo Creek.  [Not sure if they were actually looking for a story on beavers further north in Martinez.] 

Anyway, I decided to go looking for beavers myself the other day when I had some time to kill.  Unfortunately, I’m a lot bigger than a beaver so I never did quite make it all the way to the creek.  By the way PETA, surfers respect animals, so no need to worry.  Besides beaver meat doesn’t even taste good. 

I trudged through the weeds (er, native plants), being careful not to step on any newly emergent green friends (again, native plants).  It’s takes a little longer when you’re carrying a board and towel and you’re wearing sandals.  I found a couple homeless camps and abandoned underwear, but no sign of beavers, unless beavers started wearing boxers.

Native Plants, But No Beavers

The area in the floodplain is definitely prime area for beaver habitation.  There are lots of willows, alders, and cottonwood; prime building materials for those furry little homebuilders.  But, there were no signs of a beaver logging party.   In other areas where I’ve seen beaver activities, there are sometimes acres of open area where all the trees have  been felled by a beaver family. 

On this trip, the only felled trees I ran across are those beautiful eucalyptus taken out by the State Parks folks.   The goodnews is that they have now planted a ton of native plants.   Hopefully, the winter rains are loading them up to explode into greenery this spring. 

So, no new signs of beavers.  But, if you do ever see signs of the San Mateo Creek beavers, please forward some pic’s so we can share. 

 In the meantime, look out for those dam beavers, I mean beaver dams.

Surfing Trestles Alone

15 03 2010

Once in awhile it happens.

Lonely Steps to the Waves

Is Anybody There?

There are no cars in the parking lot at Crisitanitos, or on the street for that matter.  You don’t pass anyone on the trail.   You walk under the trestle and don’t see any bikes on the beach.   Crunching through the rain-soaked sand with your bare feet, you shuffle up to the top of the sand berm.  Looking out in the water, you only see two black figures in the surf zone.  Are those seals or people?  Did you come to the right beach?  Kind of spooky.

Unridden Cylinders In The Water

The rain was supposed to continue off and on over the next few days.  But, the charts showed the winds switching offshore for a few early morning hours, while the wind swell kept pumping.  Could the surf be good for a few hours after many days of Victory at Sea?

Sure enough.  Enough to make you giggle.

You got Uppers alone (almost anyway).  Aren’t you glad you got your rear out of bed and dragged it down the trail?  It only lasted a couple hours, but the fantasy was real.  Of course, you and the other two or three in the water that morning will have to find proof or nobody will believe you.

Or, maybe the real satisfaction is having it to yourself and not letting anybody else ever know.

Universal Health Care for Surfers

9 03 2010

Universal Health Care In A Box

So why all the political fuss over how to fix what ails you?  Surfers figured it out long ago.  We call it “universal health care.”

What were your first thoughts the last time you split your eyebrow with that errant board?  No doubt you went looking for a towel and a mirror to clean off the blood and see how much of a story you could spin to make your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse feel sorry for you. (like that’s a winning strategy).   You probably only thought about taking the drive to the “doc in a box” when someone told you infection can kill you.  Even then, it was a push, especially if the waves were rockin’.

Surfers (and Boy Scouts) know there are few medical problems that can’t be fixed with a simple wilderness medical kit–universal health care.  Deep cuts only need sutures to keep the inside tissue from becoming outside tissue.  In fact, I’ve been told by a couple medical professionals that you actually get smaller scars if you don’t suture a laceration.  You just need a gallon bottle of hydrogen peroxide to soak the cut or scrape until the foaming stops, thereby playing taps for the viruses and bacteria that thought you were serving up raw meat.  Stick a couple of 4-by-4 bandages on it with some medical tape and you’re good to go.

Your universal health care should also include malarone to fend off malaria on those tropical wave quests, ibuprofen to take care of any pain (only whimps need something stronger), smelling salts in case you snag a wave from the wrong local, Pepto Bismol for any internal upset, and an ace bandage to hold together the broken body parts.  Oh, and don’t forget the dental floss and sewing needle in case the cut is a little deeper than you thought.

When surfers consider universal health care they wonder why the “experts” make it so complicated and why they think we would or should go into eternal debt to pay for it.  Somebody must be playing with the numbers.  Oh those politicians.

I would try to figure it out, but I gave up trying to understand the President’s proposal about two paragraphs into the summary.  Here is the link:

Does modern medicine really improve our quality of life?  On an individual basis, probably yes, but as a society one might wonder.  We work our lives away to store up enough money to extend our lives so we can worry how we will pay to make it to the end because it’s longer than we planned for.  Hmmmmm.

Bye–I’m going surfing.   Got my universal health care in my backpack.