I watched as an eagle glided effortlessly overhead. After weeks of scouring the coastline of the Pacific Northwest for waves I’d become quite fond of the frequent encounters with this impressive bird. It looked as if it were at complete peace, knowing full well that when it was in flight it was untouchable by predators. Its confidence was enviable.
The previous night I was kicking myself. I had passed up a quality right-hander thinking there would be something better up the road, only to get skunked. I’d made the cardinal sin and I ended up missing good waves as a result. The conditions deteriorated the next day and I thought I’d missed what could perhaps be the only window of opportunity for quality waves during my time in the Pacific Northwest. Conditions can be harsh up there and it’s not uncommon to have to wait out weeks of bad weather in order to get a small window of good surf.
But as it turned out I would only have to wait another day. The fact that I’d found waves of that caliber again so quickly was nothing short of a blessing. I couldn’t believe it. The forecast didn’t even look that good, but as I pulled up to see wedges fire up and down the beach I knew I’d found something special.
Toward the end of my time in the northwest I happened to drive by an eagle perched on a post. It just sat there, confident, content, and carefree, almost as if it were a king looking out over its kingdom. I wondered how many years these birds had flown over the peaks I had just surfed, how many times they saw barrels spit with no one around to enjoy them, or if they even knew what a special place it was that they got to call home.
As surfers we get to see firsthand some of the best nature has to offer. One of the reasons I love to surf so much is because we get to be immersed in nature every time we paddle out. Nature is integral to our pursuit of wave riding. Surfers generally don’t have to be convinced of the importance of nature—we see it for ourselves.
There is a stretch of coastline not too far from where I live that brings a smile to my face every time I think about it. It sort of reminds me of the Northwest, except for the whole rainforest thing. But it’s a lonely and isolated stretch that doesn’t get very many visitors, and that’s part of why I love it. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy it since my childhood. It’s remained relatively the same all these years, and I can only hope it remains the same for years to come. I’ve camped there without another human in sight and woken up to mountain lion tracks around my tent. It’s still wild, and that’s the glory of it.
To me the annual Green Issue is a reminder to cherish nature, to steward it. It’s ours to enjoy, but it’s also a limited resource so that means it’s ours to steward as well. I had the privilege of sitting down with the folks at One With Nature recently and I was inspired by their vision. They don’t claim to have all the answers to the environmental issues we face today, and they understand both sides of the proverbial coin. But they do believe the more people get outside to enjoy nature the more inclined they will become to be good stewards of it. In my own experience I’d say they are on the right track. As John Muir once said, “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
Daniel Hamlin is an author, speaker, and surfer from the Central Coast of California. He’s worked with Walking On Water ministries, Christian Surfers International, as well as a number of mission’s organizations. He’s appeared in many surfing publications including Surfer, The Surfers Journal, and The Surfers Path.