San Mateo Creek Flows Again!

14 01 2017
Looking southeast at the estuary/lagoon.  Note the breach to the right.

Looking southeast at the estuary/lagoon. Note the breach to the right.

It’s been a few years, but the San Mateo Creek watershed “sponge” finally got full and started to overflow.  That is, all the soils upstream got full of water and started to seep/flow into the gullies that make up the watershed.  And, down to the creek bed and out to the ocean.

The last time it really flowed significantly was in December 2010; and flow it did, for almost six months.  It will be interesting to see how long it continues to flow with the off and on storms predicted over the next week or more.

The Trestles and the watershed.

The Trestles and the watershed.

Could the Southern California drought finally have broken?  Too early to tell, but it’s off to a good start.

Word is the creek broke out of the estuary/lagoon through the sand berm and out onto the reef at Uppers this morning.  You can see by the mud plumes in the ocean that it has been flowing for several hours at the time of these photos about 4:00 p;m today.

As happens with natural water courses, each time it breaks out, the flow “braids” to a new path.  We all got used to the “lagoon” that was dug out by the 2010 storms.  This time, the flow shoots straight out, dumping a lot of sand, and probably some cobbles, on top of the reef just north of what we call “Garcia-land,”  which is the north shoulder of the point. Wonder what new shape the bottom will take now.  Maybe a lagoon on each side of the point?  Maybe a  “north bay” and a “south bay?”

From over Garcia-land.  Notice the muddy surfline water.

From over Garcia-land. Notice the muddy surfline water.

Enjoy the photos.  A video may show up over the next few days.

Liquid gold.

Liquid gold.

Filling the reef with sand.

Filling the reef with sand.

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New WSL Format — the Scrum

14 09 2016

In what can only be seen as a wink and nod to its fiercest critics, the World Surfer League (WSL) has adopted a new contest format for its cadre of professional wave riders.  It’s called the “scrum” format.

For years critics, who are also, oddly enough, usually also fans of professional surf contests, have complained (or whined) of organized events that only test participants in a rarefied environment.  Two to three contestants surf against each other in perfect waves (sometimes) while the beach is completely closed to any other surfers.  The critics wonder how well these contestants would fare if they had to surf in crowded, competitive conditions “like the rest of us.”

So, here is how the scrum works.

At 4:30 am, all 34 pro contestants simultaneously receive a text message on their phones telling them the scrum is on, along with the wind and buoy reports.  They must then race to the Cristianitos parking lot, drop their bikes, and ride like crazy down the trail to the beach.  Those who happen to live closeby can ride their bikes directly to the beach.  But, no headlights allowed for anyone.

There is only a single 3-hour heat, all in.  Last man (this is the men’s contest) standing wins.  They can bring their best game faces, but the rules are the local rules.  No such thing as priority.  You’ve gotta earn it through tactics learned through years of experience.  Mad-dogging, blocking, shoulder hopping, back paddling, rail bumping; it’s all legal, if you can get away with it.

Some of the new contestants will try to work  their way to the peak by giving a few set waves to the veterans, hoping for some scraps or nuggets.  They may even try chatting it up with the vets, but there is not much hope for the nice guy approach in the scrum.

In some cases, disputes over priority may have to be settled on the beach by individuals or “teams.”

Longboards are allowed, but are generally discouraged.

That is the scrum.  Sound familiar?  Here is a photo, courtesy of the Surfline Lower Trestles live stream. Scrum in progress.  Anybody keeping score?

scrum

We hope you enjoyed this fictional story about a zany idea that has no basis in fact or any relationship to any real surf industry persons or organizations.





Summer 2015 Is Here — Or At The Wedge, That Is

4 05 2015

Ok, all you Wedgees out there. Yes, summer has hit early this year.   And, it’s only May 4th!

You can see by this screenshot from Surfline that the Wedge in Newport Beach has some real waves. Maybe not Puerto Escondido’s 25 to 35 feet, but real all the same.

Clear the beach. Set at the Wedge!

Clear the beach. Set at the Wedge!

Everyone under the age of 30 should surf it big on a short board once in his/her life just to remind you that you are alive, at least til you hit the bottom. The cross wave that sweeps across the screen (not shown) from left to right, has a habit of sucking the bottom right out of the wave and wedging the top into the sky an extra 30%. Thus, the name the wedge. Making it down the face on your feet is glorious!  Not making it, not so much. Usually it involves some sort of back breaking arch or pile driving header.  There is nothing like peeking over the lip, thinking you’re in, then realizing you needed much more board speed.  It’s not just normal rolling wave action.  The surging wedge action actually increases the water surface speed up the wave’s face under your board faster than you can accelerate, leaving you behind.

Makes the 6′ to 10′ waves at our favorite Uppers look like child’s play. But, at least we don’t put the local lifeguards in danger.

Spencer Purdy and all your friends at the Wedge–you show us what real surfing spills and thrills are all about. Rock on!

[Written from Tokyo–first Uppers action I’ve missed in person in a long time–so, take a couple for me.  Enjoy!]





Ironman 70.3 Oceanside — Access to Trestles Impaired

27 03 2015
Sign at the Top of the Trestles Trail

Sign at the Top of the Trestles Trail

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.  Hope you saw this one.

The Ironman 70.3 California Oceanside is being run on Saturday, March 28, 2015.  The course includes our Trestles Bike Trail.  The Ironman cyclists will be riding south to north and will turn east at Cristianitos.  It doesn’t seem imaginable that they would close down all access to Trestles for this 7:00 am to noon event.  Click on the .pdf map below.

oceanside70 3 bike 2015 tbt 1-1

Indeed they must at least allow access down the dirt path on the east side of the freeway and across the bike path where they cross at the bottom of the hill.  We’ll see.

There could be an insurrection if they block all access with a south swell expected to peak on Saturday.  But, then again, for those with the fortitude to get there some other way, it could be the most uncrowded day of the season.  We’ll see.

Let’s put on our most cooperative demeanors.  Remember we may need their help the next time the Tollroad comes up.





Yoga and Surfing

26 01 2015

Okay, so it looks more like a header from a severe lip launch a little too close to the beach.

Pre-surf Headstand

Pre-surf Headstand

A lot of surfers have found that yoga is an incredible complementary activity for surfing.  It maintains flexibility and core strength, even for old guys.

Yoga is also a great mental preparation for dealing with The Crowd.

A headstand after stretching and before you paddle out helps get you centered for the sociological interplay in the water.  It also prepares you to relax when you get dragged to the bottom on a big wave and you’re not sure which way is up.

When you combine yoga with swimming or a cross-fit routine, you are ready to hit the rising surf without missing a beat, even when the waves have been flat for a long time.

So give it a try at your local yoga studio.

Namaste





What is the Surfline Effect?

18 07 2014
This is the Surfline Effect!

This is the Surfline Effect!

It is that relatively new phenomenon whereby on the peak day of any clean swell the Upper Trestles Surf Crowd blossoms.  Can you say Party Wave?

Now understand that as a scientist/engineer who got the top A in his biometerology class, I love Surfline’s wave and weather models.  My wife has to ask why I spend so much time with a model named LOLA.  I would venture to say that LOLA is the most significant breakthrough that has come along in wave forecasting for surfers over the last few decades.  As a model, it filters out most of the extraneous computer garbage to give us clean, simple forecasts weeks in advance of approaching swells.  And, it is mostly dead on accurate.

However, there is LOLA’s relative from the dark side, LOWLIFE.  It is the simultaneous rise in surfer population at Upper Trestles whenever a swell’s peak is predicted.  If Surfline says the swell peak overnight on Tuesday, you can bet the parking lot will be full by daybreak on Wednesday morning.

Reading my posts, you know that I welcome all surfers to join the Crowd, but there is this phenomenon we have to deal with nowadays — “The Surfline Effect.”  Today, I counted 12 surfers taking off on the same wave.  That is probably not a sustainable or safe situation.

A good surfing ethics question came up in the water.  It seems to have a simple answer, but it does make you think.  The question is:  “Is it okay to take off on someone who took off on someone else (who in today’s crowd actually took off on someone else and so on and son on)?”

I’ll just say “Let’s be careful out there.”

And, let’s stick to the Surfing Rules for Upper Trestles, which I posted the other day.

By the way, there are some measures that can be taken to counteract the Surfline Effect, but like the Central Coast secret spot location, I’m not talkin’.

And, to all our favorite forecasters at Surfline, don’t let the Surfline Effect change your good work.  We are now hooked and can’t go through the withdrawals if you decided to shut down.  We just can’t go back to the old days of showing up at the beach each morning to see if we are going to surf that day.





Surfing Rules for Upper Trestles

7 07 2014

Welcome to all who want to surf Upper Trestles!

Visitors by the Thousands

Visitors by the Thousands

But, let’s get something straight — there are some rules.  Contrary to the opinions, or perceptions, of some guests (and I use the term loosely), Uppers is not some sort of free for all where you just paddle into any wave any time you want.

Most of us on Dawn Patrol are pretty nice guys, easy to get along with.  Unfortunately, sometimes that easy going approach is misinterpreted to mean “go ahead snake me.”

On a related issue, because Uppers can be one of the most crowded spots on the planet in the summertime, it may seem to some that there is no order to the crowd.  On the contrary, it is only because of the strong order in the water that everyone is usually able to get waves to themselves, even on the most crowded days.

All this to set up my social comment.

This morning, I watched as some infrequent guests showed up late, about 7:00 am, and immediately started snaking anyone and everyone.  Yes,  including me.  When I paddled back out, I heard a couple of them congratulate each other on their endeavors.  It went something like this.

Funboarder:  “Hey, I just saw your buddy blatantly take off on a guy who had perfect position on that last set.  He even looked the guy straight in the eye before paddling in front of him.”

Overly tan baldy:  “Yeah, what a great wave.  Lucky guy.”

Funboarder:  “It didn’t seem right.”

Overlly tan baldy:  “Yeah, but I guess that’s the way it works at Uppers.”

Funboarder:  “Yeah, I guess.  I just did the same thing.”

My official response for the record is:  “No, that is not the way it works at Uppers.”

Sure, we all occasionally shoulder hop someone, usually by accident, or because we didn’t try as hard as we should have to look way up the line.  But, we at least need to be somewhat remorseful, and owe the other guy a wave or waves they can bank for later.

If you want to come to Uppers, keep that in mind.   A simple “Oh, sorry about that” goes a long way and helps keep order in the water.  It also keeps us all a little safer.

Visiting surfers need to realize that there is order in the water.  If it seems otherwise, it is because you are probably just projecting your own chaotic, reckless demeanor on The Crowd.  So, take a few minutes to be perceptive about the order and integrate yourself into it.  You will have a lot more fun in the long run.

And, you may just make some new friends in The Crowd.

Namaste.