Sunday, April 21, 2013

Palm Springs Surfing

So last year, when I went with my family to spend time with my parents in Palm Springs, I got out skiing a bit.  See, I am not so keen on the heat.  And I have a chlorine alergy, so taking a dip in the pool is not my favorite thing in the world.  But the joy my parents and my son seem to get out of each other is pretty awesome, so I agreed to Palm Springs.  Last year was a pretty thin year down south, but I was able to find some snow at the top of the tram (yep, they have one that brings you from the valley floor to above 8,000 feet) and around the back side of the San Jancintos via the Palm to Pines Highway.  Anyway, this year made last season look kind of epic, and with a south swell expected to hit the Southern California coastline on late Monday, I laid plans to get myself out to the coast.

Early morning view on the drive up Palm to Pines.  The sun rising in the east and a dust storm blowing from the west. 

Making the most of a small corner at Uppers.

My buddies Jeremy and Jeremy were expected to be around.  The first lives in San Diego, I was my partner on the tram ski expedition. So I knew he'd be up for some adventure.  The second was from San Francisco, but had made the trek south to get a piece of this steep angled swell.  So no doubt he was up for adventure.  Those two hit up Cotton's on Monday Night, and the report came back as a building swell.  I decided to wait until Tuesday, to allow the swell to fill in a bit, and at least say hello to my parents.  So, SoCal is known for sunny warm days and clean crisp surf.  Right?  So I put on some shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops and hit the road around 5:30.  It is a two hour plus drive from the desert to the beach.  I opted for the mountain route to avoid driving through the sprawl that is L.A.  A half hour in, I thought it felt pretty chilly, so I checked out the car thermometer.  28F.  Certainly it could not be that cold, so I rolled down the window to take a check.  Yup, that cold.

Even with the mid morning low tide, there were plenty of super fun, lined up, steep rights coming through.  

While the lefts tended to be shorter, they were hitting the cobbles stones a bit nicely, and a few bowled up for inside barrels.

At least when I got back down to sea level the air temp had risen into the low 60s.  The flip side is it was raining.  In the OC.  Seriously?  It pretty much hasn't rained all winter in California, and today it was raining.  On me.  But I was here, so I took a stroll down to the water to take a look.  The walk down to the beach is not too bad.  I remember how I once heard it was such a long walk to Trestles.  But seriously, it is not too bad.  Lowers takes a bit more time, but it is certainly no trek.  With the drizzle and the chill, I headed down to Uppers.  I left the gear in the car, waiting for my friends to arrive.  The breeze was onshore, and the sky overcast, but when I got down to the beach, the surf was pretty glassy.  A good dose of morning sickness was on it, so I ended up driving around the coast a bit, waiting for the sun to come out, and the tide to fill in a bit.  By late morning, we were in the water, surfing overhead Cotton lefts.  It was good.  Real good.  I think the other breaks were doing pretty good as well, but the great thing about our choice is we had the peak all to our selves for over two hours, while 20 or so guys scrambled around Uppers and a good 30 plus were packed around the Lowers peak.

This guy looked like he was having some fun with the crisp and clean walls.

Providing a good demonstration on how to surf off the back foot.

With the forecast for the winds to push off shore through the night hours, I laid plans for an early morning session on Wednesday.  And earlier start had me arriving at the parking lot at 7:30.  A quick suit up, and walk down the water had us checking out a swell that had dropped significantly overnight. Waves were only running from waist to head high, so we opted to paddle out at Uppers because it was making more of the small conditions than Cotton's.  A good choice.  As we walked out over the cobblestone's a good five surfers paddled in.  The crowd dropped from 20 or so spread out, down to just 8 at one point.  Again, we found ourselves alone on a peak.  But only for 45 minutes or so.  Then, at about hour three of our session, I think 25 guys paddled out, all within 15 minutes.  It was shoulder to shoulder from Barbed Wires through the entire Uppers lineup.  Caught a decent one and called it a vacation.

He also had some front foot maneuvers he was playing around with.

Up high, there were some colder temps.

So, anyway, I took some out of focus pictures on day number two.  Sorry I did not do a better job, but I ended up using all my time to surf, so I just quickly whipped out the camera and pulled off a few shots. But man, did I get lucky.  As we neared our trip, I kept on hoping for a good snow to fall in SoCal, but we barely even saw snow in Tahoe in 2013.  So, I figured I take a day to surf, but of course, was not expecting much.  I mean, it is April.  Not exactly the middle of south swell season.  But, if you've never been, and you find yourself within a few hours distance, you should really paddle out at Trestles.  Those waves are a bunch of fun.

Back in the desert...