Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunset Cliffs Trail (#16)

June 13, 2010 -

I admit to being a recovering surfer but I can't resist returning to the scene of the crime. Sunset Cliffs, for me, was only surpassed by my home turf (I.B.) when it came to favorite surf spots.

Over the hundred or so times I've surfed there, not once did I think to myself, "What a nice place to go for a walk." Probably because at the time I didn't derive much pleasure from just walking and, besides, I would have just jumped in the water anyway.

Well, I can say it now... "Wow, what a nice place for a walk!"

You get to "The Cliffs," by taking Highway 8 West to... ding, ding, ding! you guessed it... Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.

The trail begins along the coast a half mile past Ocean Beach driving south where you'll find a convenient little parking lot on the bluffs.

The rock formations and the way the ocean interacts with the land is awesome. Unfortunately, I suppose, there are very few sand beaches along the way and even those are tricky to get to.

I guess that's why its called Sunset "Cliffs'" not Sunset "Sandy Beaches."

Although the path paralleled the road as I walked, my attention was always on the trail, the cliffs, the birds, the waves, etc., so I hardly noticed the cars and such.

The only exceptions to that were the few times where the "unstable cliffs" proved worthy of their name.

One of my sons likes to play a hypothetical game that goes something like this: "Which would you rather, getting hit by a car or falling off a 100 ft. cliff?" You get my point right?

I was very excited to show Wilson my favorite surf spot along the cliffs. The waves get so good here that at some point in time, and certainly at great expense, stairs were erected to make it possible to get to them.

As you can probably tell by the photo, Wilson was a little leery about our trip down to the water.

The name of the break directly in front of the steps is called South Garbage, but the name certainly does not pertain to the quality of the surf. Today the surf was small, but, as usual, had very good form.

One thing to know about surfing here is that it can be tricky getting in and out of the water when the waves are big. This is one of only two places where I surfed waves 20 ft. plus and I don't exactly remember which was scarier - surfing the waves, or getting pummeled on the rocks by them trying to get back on dry land. "Which would you rather...?"

Just as I was sharing this story with Wilson we both looked up to see this guy damn near walking on water. Speaking for myself, when "I" was a surfer, I paddled out the old fashioned way - laying down on the board and paddling with our hands. Go figure.

While at the bottom we looked south toward Ratkay Point and Newbreaks. There's actually a stretch of sand beach and some tide pools to be explored but we decided to go back up and continue on the trail up above.

Right at the steps you find a sign inviting you to continue on to a portion of the trail that parts ways with the asphalt road (the street itself makes a 90 degree bend and ends there).

This next portion of trail I've really only been on a couple of times and one of those instances was around midnight on a full moon.

A wannabe accountant (we were both in the same class at SDSU) and obviously hopeless surf freak (another shared quality) invited me on a night-time surf sesh at Newbreaks that he'd been planning for months.

Surfing by moonlight is a one of a kind experience and was well worth that challenge of descending, using a strategically placed rope, a steep slippery trail in the dark with a board in your hand. The tube rides were magical, with the moonlight shimmer sparkling up the face of the waves in front of you.

This picture to the right is a photo of Newbreaks by daylight

Eventually the trail ended when we ran into Point Loma Nazarene College. So, guess what? We turned around and head back.

Our entire walk was about four miles and Wilson, save the part about the steps, enjoyed every bit of it.

The last three pictures show:

1) The view heading back north,

2) A shot of the fenced in "blowhole." I wonder how many people fell into it before the fence went up.

3) The beginning of the trail looking north to Ocean Beach. In fact you can kind of see the pier.

Another splendid trek!


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