As you walk down the trails to any of the beaches along this area of
coast you will see warning signs regarding Sleeper Waves and to beware of
them and I thought I always had been, never turning my back on the ocean.
Sure I like most photographers around these parts I have been chased back
up the beach by large waves. It's something you come to expect. It was a
fairly windy day and there were some showers as the sunset was unfolding
after a recent Pacific storm. The waves were big at times but
nothing I hadn't seen before and could easily outrun. I had taken about two
dozen shots (including this one) of the setting sun when I decided to climb
the rocks and stand on the ledge you can see on the right side of this
image. Once there I set up the tripod and noticed the ocean spray and
mist from the shower was blurring the view so I pulled out my cleaning cloth
and was cleaning my filter when it hit. Out of the corner of
my eye I caught a large splash on the rocks below and looked up to see the
rocks completely disappear under a large wave which raced incredibly fast up
the beach reaching all the way to the base of Highway One, a good 100-150
feet or more up the beach and completely cover the area where I had just
been shooting the sunset under 3 or 4 feet of rushing water. I suddenly
wondered if I was high enough but by the time I had the thought the wave had
already passed my position and it didn't matter anyway as I could go no
higher. As quickly as the wave had rushed up the beach it was headed back
out to sea. Had the wave come about 5 or 10 minutes earlier I would have
been carried a good ways up the beach camera gear and all. There was NO
WAY I could have outrun this one or even scurried up the rocks just 20 feet
or so away. It was sheer luck and boredom of the scene which I had many
pictures of that got me to move up the rocks. I thought to take a
picture of it but I simply didn't have a wide enough lens to get anything
that would show the scale of what had occurred just a few feet below me.
I did snap off one shot but just had moving water toward the end of the wave
going back out to sea. Nothing really worthy posting. It took me a while
before I was ready to move down off my perch on the ledge but eventually I
made my way down and took a few more shots.
So today, this photographer is seriously thinking of heading towards
Yosemite or the Sierra for the next few photo shoots and steering clear of
the beach for a while. Anyways, I did get this and a few other fine
sunsets at the very north end of Pescadero beach along the California coast.
I'll post more later.
Be careful out there.
© Darvin Atkeson