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Surfing Willow Creek

What's it like to surf the #legendary #WillowCreek in #BigSur, #CA?




It was an evening in late #September of 2022. My brother and I had been following a great #south-by-southwest #swell with a slight northern mix and we nearly missed the turnoff. What looked like a dirt lot that allowed faster-moving vehicles to pass, turned out to be the narrow service road that led down to #Willow Creek.

When you first arrive, it looks difficult to tell where the entry point to the water is or where you are even able to #surf. It's basically a clove that a freshwater creek lets out into. Mega rocks everywhere. Fortunately, we saw one lone local with a beat-to-hell board #paddle out.



He crossed over the rocks to the right, walking around the edge of the cliff-face to a blackish sand beach on the north end. We watched him and all the spots he might enter from, and followed shortly after.

When you first paddle out, you have to bob and weave around about a hundred slimy #kelp vines. Each of them grows about 10ft apart, so there isn't much risk of getting snagged or tangled. The #eerie thing about this is, the top kelp bulbs, (the little things on seaweed that trap air bubbles inside) grow to be about the size of a basketball. So it looks like you are swimming through about a hundred shrunken heads.

When a #wave rolls in and the #water level rises, the heads dip beneath the #surface of the water and after the wave has passed, they slowly poke their heads out again. It's a trip.



The entry point to the wave is fairly easy to #navigate. Paddle to the south side, just beside the major rock reef, where it fully emerges from the water. Paddling in actually takes an extra few strokes because the initial drop is a bit of an #A-Frame. From there you can bevil into the LEFT (and it has to be left or you are going to take some serious rocks to the face).

The wave itself is a strong, solid wall of #emerald #green water and for added fun, you can swish around and slice through some of the kelp heads with your fins. (At least on the evening we went) It held up for a nice consistent line all the way to the opposing end of the cliffs. One of the funniest and eeriest sessions I've had in years.




I would definitely deem this break to be intermediate to #advanced. There are a lot of #rocks and some interesting currents that will require proper #safety #etiquette and they don't have lifeguards here. It is very likely you will be the only one there so save this one for when you have the confidence you need to surf with accuracy.
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