Friday, October 8, 2010

Of Snowflakes and Crashing Waves

Under ideal weather conditions, we continued taking photographs along the coast of Point Lobos State Reserve just south of Carmel, CA.

When we arrived at this location just north of Weston Beach, we were so caught up in the majesty of this section of the park that we did not even think of taking photographs.

However, we quickly found positions from which to marvel at the action of the waves.

We soon became familiar with the cycle of the waves.

After a big wave hit the shore, the flow of water back to the ocean would seem to block or reduce the force of the next waves coming in.

As a result of this backflow, it would take the arrival of four or five waves to overcome the backflow, thereby increasing the height and force of each wave until the full force was restored to a wave coming in.

That's a very unscientific explanation for the cycle of the "explosive" waves.

There was also a sound produced by an approaching explosive wave that was louder than the intervening smaller waves.

After several minutes of listening to the waves come ashore, we became familiar enough to the sound pattern that we could prepare for the crash of the wave against the rocks.

And the position that we found was ideal for watching the waves crashing. As is apparent in the photo-graphs shown here, there were some rock formations that projected into the ocean, and the position and shape of the rocks seemed to magnify the crash of the waves.

After a couple hours of listening to the approach of waves and photo-graphing their arrival, we prepared to leave.

This act of preparing to leave was especially difficult because we had become familiar with the waves' cycle.

As the interval appeared to be reaching its limit and the sound of the approaching large wave grew louder, we would look at each other and without saying so, agreed that we would wait for "just one more" wave to crash onshore.

The decision to wait for just one more was especially easy because--just like snowflakes--the effect of no two waves crashing against the rock formations was the same.

And the thought of missing an extra-ordinary spray of water was too great to warrant just walking away because we had other plans. There was no urgency in "other plans."

No activity that would justify walking away and risking the opportunity to capture a National Geographic-type photograph of a huge wave crash.

Once we had committed to leaving, it was still difficult to avoid making backward glances and snapping a telephoto-lens photo of that "exceptional wave" that we were missing.

To us, the coastline around Point Lobos is the rugged, turbulent shore that we enjoy, and we are already making plans to return to this state park soon.

Reading about the uses of this land between 1769 and 1898, we were surprised to learn that it had been the site of a whaling operation and an abalone cannery.

Stories exist that ownership of this land changed frequently--once supposedly during a card game.

But in 1898, Point Lobos was acquired by A.M. Allan. This land, along with later additions became part of the state park system in 1933. In 1960, 775 submerged acres
were added, creating one of the nation's first underwater reserves. In 2007, this portion became part of the Point Lobos State Marine Reserve, which now covers a total of 5.36 square miles.

The Point Lobos State Reserve has been called "the crown jewel of the State Park System."

A richly-deserved title.

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