This was my first year attending the Pummel and the sea sure wanted to deliver on Saturday! I decided at the last minute to make the journey even though the forecasts were not in any way good. My thought was that if I brought enough toys; surf kayak, playboat, creekboat and kiteboard that I’d be able to enjoy whatever Mother Nature threw at me. I was also looking forward to catching up with and meeting new members of what I like to call the kayak surf tribe, one of the friendliest groups of people I know.
On Friday I left Portland, OR early to make the 5+ hr trek up to La Push, WA on the Olympic Peninsula. It was a very stormy day and made for a long drive with the strong winds and driving rain. When I arrived in La Push I caught up with the Steehler family and we all hung out in the protection of their cabin. Even though there was enough daylight to surf, the big and blown out conditions where not at all inviting.
After a good night’s sleep in the van I woke up to check the surf with my fingers crossed that something might be paddleable. With over 22’ swell and 30+mph gusty winds there was no chance of that! It looked like there was whitewash all the way to Japan!!! Not a single person from the large group of talented boaters braved the ocean on this day. Ken Debondt, the organizer of the event, wanted to get on the water and invited whoever wanted to join to come out to the Mosh Pit wave on the Sol Duc River. This is a high water wave that is formed from a low head dam. The water levels were a bit low, but there was a wave to surf. I managed to enjoy the wave for three hours with Ken, Jeffery & Patrick Steehler while surfing all types of paddle craft: Fluid Element surf/freestyle kayak, Valley Rush MKII surf kayak, Eddyline Samba sea kayak and an Emotion Charger rec sit-on-top. All where fun, but the 6 min ride in the Emotion was absurd on all levels and a total hoot. Ken also tried the wave on his SUP, wave ski and body board with varying degrees of success. I had a really fun afternoon on the water with good people. Saturday night’s potluck dinner was the only official scheduled event of the weekend. Everyone met at the Quileute resort meetinghouse with all kinds of meats, beer, liquor, soups, appetizers and deserts. It was a fun gathering with lots of stories told and songs sung late into the night.
(Sweet little Video by Bill Walker. Such a fun surf!)
The plan that was formulated for Sunday was that some people would sea kayak in the river mouth in La Push in the am and everyone would meet at Crescent Beach up north on the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the early afternoon. The forecast looked perfect for 4-6’ clean surf at this popular surf kayak destination. The ocean was still a bit angry at La Push, but a few hearty souls got a few waves in the morning. I wasn’t excited about driving further north and burning more fuel, but when everyone is talking about a perfect afternoon of quality surf and beautiful weather I just couldn’t say no. Upon arriving at Crescent a different scene quickly came into focus. There was no surf! Okay, not true, there was 2’ beach break with the occasional 2.5’ rogueJ Most people suited up and got wet anyway and I did the same. Good fun and a good little workout, but not much in the way of wave riding. After the session I said my goodbyes, buckled up and hit the road for the long drive back south.
All in all, a fun weekend, spectacular scenery and amazing people. I have now circumnavigated, by van, the Olympic peninsula in a single weekend. I hope to do the same in the future, just over a longer period of time with much more surf and ww kayaking thrown inJ
See you on the water,
More coverage of the 2012 Pummel: