A Central California Surfing Experience

Jean Paul Molyneux is a current student at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, who recently hit us up with some of his nice photographs shot in Central California. When we asked him if he’d be interested in writing something, he replied with this descriptive recollection…

It is hard to describe a picturesque Central California surf day, but one experience can sum up my three years worth of surfing here pretty well. The ringing of the alarm is both bitter and sweet. I hear my roommate shuffle, but not to wake up, only to shield himself from the noise and the wind coming through the sides of the garage door into our room. In the darkness, my excitement begins to build because any morning the garage rattles from the wind means offshore winds where swell meets land.

Usually there is a glimmer of light in the sky, but this morning no such light exists. Hoping to score a spot neither of us has even attempted to access, we give up a day of guaranteed epic conditions to search for a wave heard of only through an obscure kayakers journal. Time seems out of place as we drive and the sun begins to light the sky in front of us. We drive through towns that are still in slumber. The road begins to lose its smooth glide and soon we begin to rattle down a road less traveled. Cows stare, and by the looks on their faces, I suspect this is not the first time they have seen surfers at dawn.

Looking ahead I see what looks like a dead end and we find ourselves in a canyon still sheltered from the morning light. A fence and a gate await us, but as we get closer there is another car parked. Shocked that somehow another person has got to this presumed spot before us, we warily get out of the car. Unsure of how far the hike is to the beach, we pack our gear and hope pumping surf lies just beyond the hills in front of us. Wild horses can be seen on the hills behind us and they stare with a similar look as the cows had. I cannot help but believe they know something we do not.

Boards strapped to our backs and wetsuits in hand we begin to walk. Up and over the first ridge, our legs begin to feel the weight of our boards and packs. As we hit the top ,the sun begins to illuminate my roommates face. He squints and smiles as the suns first rays of light blanket the hillside with color. Unfortunately for us, the sun also reveals how far we actually are from the ocean. Our optimism fuels us as we continue, unsure how many miles there are between the dirt beneath us and the oceans salty goodness.

About 20 minutes later our enthusiasm has turned sour, and our smiles have turned into emotionless blank stares. The only thing keeping our spirits up is the sounds of the ocean drawing near. The air becomes salty and the noise of crashing waves rings like a distant church bell to a group of lost nuns. We begin to walk faster, but are still limited by our gear. The path curves and opens up to a bluff that drops down towards the ocean. We scan the coastline, our heads swiveling right to left and back again. Nothing. The swell is not wrapping around the point we thought was going to be firing.

Further down the coastline there is only pounding shore break that I doubt any of us would even be willing to bodysurf. The gear suddenly feels heavy. We let gravity do the work, dropping everything we carry. We sit staring at the vast landscape in front of us. I begin to laugh. My body and feet are not feeling the same humor as my mind.

“How are there no waves along such a long stretch of coast,” I mutter to myself.

I hear groans, but turn to see my roommates with a similar smile on their faces. Sitting on the hillside looking out on miles of untouched open space before us, it is hard to stay frustrated in the presence of untouched nature. Even with no waves I consider this one of the most memorable days of surf in my life. No longer is a day of surfing dictated by how good the waves are, though it definitely helps. The experiences that surround surfing is what keeps me coming back for more, and I hope surfing never loses the sense of adventure that it has always had.

– Jean Paul Molyneux

To see more of Jean Paul’s photos, check out http://www.wix.com/jeanpaulm/photos

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