High-Lining Again

I just kind of stared at the title for a bit too long. It could say more, or, maybe it says enough.

You have to love the waves you don’t think you’ll make, ones on which you’d like just a little more speed out of your board. You’re trimming high on the wall, focused only on the wave ahead and below you, and it’s only getting hollower; and you know that section ahead, that last pitch before you can glide; it breaks, explodes, really, on river rocks, round, smooth; no oversized chunkers; cobblestones; and you’ve already been caught in that shallow trap, board dropping out and down as the lip hit you; you’ve already pirouetted and half-twisted and leaped toward the open ocean, and been thrashed, bounced off that reef, your board going over you in inches of water.

And you made some. Easy. Too easy; you must have been too far out in front.

Blacks photo by Matt Aden

Blacks photo by Matt Aden

“Again” is really all you’re thinking; “This time…” Maybe you’ll crouch, hand in the wave face, tight, ready.

This time you might make be in that perfect spot. More speed. You take off at an angle, too far over, probably, project out of a down the line bottom turn, and find that high line again. Speed; you need more. You see the ribs of the wave ahead, the already-pitching lip. More speed. You don’t tuck in; but you move your weight forward, subtly pumping, just tweaking the angle. If you weren’t holding your breath, you are now. No, you’re ready to scream, success or failure; this is where you always wanted to be; that high line between… between frightening and thrilling.

The board skitters, no way it would hold in the thin lip; it side slips down the curve, you in the curtain, trying to stay on, your back hand pushed farther behind you, focus still on the deep water ahead, and…

…and now you’re laughing, and not thinking of anything else but… “Again!”

This piece was inspired by my last session, able, by luck and tide, to find and surf some rights, rare in the Straits of Juan de Fuca; no, not the pitching sand-spitters featured a few posts down, but something in preparation, maybe, for those. I’m dying to surf those, maybe not quite ready. I’m more ready now.  I was fortunate enough to work up the hill from Trestles for ten months in 1975, and, remember well telling my friend Phillip Harper, on the phone (he was in medical school at the time) that I would get going so fast down the line that I’d pull up to the top of the wave and my board (and I) would freefall, catch, and the process would be repeated. However, forty years later, I should admit that I pulled a few tight waves standing, but, probably the ride I’ll remember longest, the ride the longest and the tightest, I was on my kneeboarding it after a very steep takeoff, and, eyes wide open, I was totally covered in that moment of weightlessness.

Okay, now I’m sort of staring into some file in my memory bank, hitting the ‘save’ button, and hoping you know exactly what I’m talking about. “Next time…”

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