I am starting to loose count of the number of times I have picked Mackenzie up at an airport or vice versa. It seems every time it signals a new adventure:
Whether it be a surf trip in Baja, a north Cali mission for wilderness exploration, or this last time when I picked him up from our local airport on Vancouver Island and headed out to a surf break only a couple hours from home – it’s a special feeling being able to get lost on your door step without needing to explore the ends of the earth.
One thing has held true every time we step off of the plane – I’m greeted with a huge smile and my rumbling old van full of gear and supplies.
This time was a bit different though, instead of the usual warm weather of California and my charmingly over stuffed van, I find myself pulling up to the airport parking lot in a rain storm, driving Mackenzie’s recently purchased and yet to be outfitted diesel Vanagon.
I had spent the past week chasing waves and sleeping rather uncomfortably in the back, whilst I waited for mackenzie to return from LA and fully lay claim to his new ride. It seems to be the way it works with us, always looking after the other guys home (Mackenzie lived in my van for 5 months this past summer and I did a stint in his almost forgotten apartment before new tenants moved in earlier in the year) while we patiently wait for another wilderness off the grid adventure.
Mackenzie had not been in the water for almost 6 months after suffering a back injury in those all to familiar California waves. All of a sudden this little trip had a far more significant purpose.
With a still damp wetsuit and a couple of new self shaped boards we had made together a few months before pilled in the back of the van – we set off to explore the coast we both had learned to surf on and had neglected as of late for warmer, more surf mag worthy destinations.
We knew what to expect: rain, wind, cold water and more rain. What we didn't expect or rather what we had forgotten about was the epic wilderness we would be surrounded by almost instantly after leaving the airport. Not to mention the empty waves and a swell forecast that had our arms sore and our stoke high far before we had gotten into the water!
Water washed over the hills and across the road as we slowly climbed through the foggy landscape as the afternoon light fell behind the trees. Wind blown branches and dirt washouts scattered our path down the old logging road to the beach.
Miles of overflowing pot holes and slippery rocks lead to the parking lot we called home for the next three nights. Surrounded by tall pines, night fell quickly on our lonely campout.
With little left to do after cooking a simple dinner, a one pot wonder of beans, rice, vegetables and whatever spices we had on hand, we crawled into our sleeping bags for a few pages of some far away stories before the howling wind and the sound of surf breaking through the trees causes the pages to blur before our eyes, soon we had drifted off with book in hand, amongst the waves and trees.
Usually the rising sun is enough to wake us to go check the surf, but when the sun doesn't peak over the trees before noon we find ourselves stirred from sleep like a morning commuter, with the piercing ‘beep beep’ of an alarm clock. Coffee and warm porridge seem to be the only things that can energise us enough to slip into our damp wetsuits and make the long slog through mud and across rocks and streams, slowly following the sound of breaking waves through the trees.
Finally we stepped from the trees onto a steep rock beach witnessed what we spent the night dreaming of: a beautiful left hand point breaks 100 feet off shore as the suns first hint of light floats across the distant olympic mountains to our south.
The wind had died down from the night before and we laughed in shock as the thick clouds that pounded the tin roof of the van all night with heavy rain slowly broke up as we paddled out to the empty line up.
Perfect waves rolled down the point for hours and there was not a soul in sight — we had really lucked in here.
The wind eventually picked up again, right around the time the waves of low tide began to slowly get caught in the rock pools. The sharp rock point that created such a clean wave had begun to show its insides. Crumbling with the deep green kelp strands amongst the rocks and white wash, we slowly drifted closer to shore – catching smaller and smaller waves – until the waves breaking so shallow over the rocks formed boils before sucking the remaining water from the point.
We finally realised our efforts were in vain. We had caught countless peeling waves, standing up and turning around for a split second just to make sure the other was watching, as if one unwitnessed wave counted against us. Smiles matching those of our welcome party pick ups grew bigger and bigger every time we paddled back to the line up.
After a long day of scoring waves and sharing stoke, the cold water started to win the battle so we decided there was not much left to do but get onto land and stoke a fire to warm our nomadic souls.
The adventure of waves and trees here never disappoints and the crackle of a campfire always reminds us that every now and then we need to escape.