Skeletal, sun bleached logs lay scattered along the high tide line. A powerful storm must have washed them there. The thought of that much water hitting me against the rocks sent shudders down my spine as i looked out to sea to try to judge the size of the waves. The circling eagles did little to ease my increasing sense of being a long long way from safety should anything happen. And this is one of the easier to access parts of the island.
We had just finished a twenty mintue hike through tattered old-growth rainforest to get to the beach, and then walked for another half mile along the cobblestone beach to reach the surf spot. Recent storms had torn through the forest, leaving huge trees uprooted and branches in our path. Most people would have turned back and found an easier route to the break, or found another place to surf. With a wry smile one of our group noted that the damage to the path would at least keep the crowds away. Only in a surfers mind can damage and destruction, whether man made or natural, be such a bonus.
The four of us had been tracking the swell out in the Pacific for a few days previous. I'd been surfing the local beach which picked up from wasit high to double overhead within 5 hours. It was here. By the time i'd been bruised and beaten out of the water, the boys were already makeing plans and packing the cars. Boards, food, water and raincoats were packed within minutes once the decision to drive south was made. We made it to the first rivermouth break in the dead of night, and slept in the car listening to the waves peel down the point. Sleep was fitful given the rain, the cramped car, and the greedy anticipation of what was to come.
Sunrise brought with it a pilgramage of cars laden with surfboards. I never knew there were so many surfers in B.C.! Well this is the age of the internet swell, and we'd have been stupid to think we were the only people tracking its progress. Luckily we had some local knowledge and decided not to paddle out at the crowded right hand point, but to put in some extra effort in the hope of being rewarded.
The rewards were stacked out to the horizon in beautiful, misty, early morning lines. Sets walled up, and barrelled down the reef. Having only seen beach break for the past 3 weeks I was tingling with excitement. As I paddled out in the clear, cold water, I watched one of the group paddle into an overhead wave from behind the peak, squeeze himself into the barrel and come flying out further down the line, marking his progress with a burst of spray as he laid down a cutback.
My first wave was not as spectacular, but I emerged from a chilly tube all the same and let out a yell. There were four of us, not a building, person, car, smoke stack, coke can or anything else in sight. This is the edge, the fringe of surfing in North America; far, far away from the marketed Californian surf experience. An extra effort is needed to get to these places, and local guides. I pulled into a deep barrel, and had a split second view of the sun rising over the mountains framed by the tube, before it shut down on me.
That split second of experience made the whole trip worthwhile. It doesn't matter that I didn't make the wave. It doesn't matter that the incessant rain was driving me mad. It doesn't matter that we spent $200 on petrol. It doesn't matter that the surf dropped later the afternoon leaving us sharing waist high waves with the rest of Canada. It doesn't matter.....because I got what I came for.