Craig Wisner

Following the Herd.

Or not.

Surfing a week ago was an excellent reminder of the pervasive herd mentality amongst us humans.  While driving north, we witnessed all the big spots: Sunset, Topanga, Malibu…all overrun with the typical crowds.  Yet we found waves just as good with nobody on them.


We were willing to take a chance and not find surf.  We were willing to be creative.  We we’re willing to walk a little bit further.  We were willing to get up a little bit earlier.  We were will to drive a little bit more.

But most important, we were willing to go to places that people don’t talk about, places that aren’t “surf spots”, places that don’t appear in the reports or register amongst the internet chatter.  Accordingly, we don’t write reports and post pictures that can identify these places.

Because the herd seems capable of only going places it has been told about.

Which has me thinking about all the local beauty that surrounds me, the little canyons and peaks and surf breaks that don’t get much attention, little gems that sit silently waiting in my own backyard.  The tiny walk-in campgrounds that are easily accessible for overnight trips, yet are just out of reach of the majority of the herd.  Small, unnamed rock outcroppings and points that can generate a fun wave without attracting crowds.  I think about all the little places I’ve seen that have been on my radar for years, yet for some reason, have failed to get back to for further exploration.  David Chenault touches on this in a recent post here.  I was especially struck by this idea: “The second principle is that while living somewhere which makes you always want to travel is bad, living somewhere that is so good you never want to leave is worse.”

I think I have found a very happy medium here in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.  My son and I will shoulder packs and head out this afternoon on a short backpack to check out another local spot we’ve never seen.  Hopefully the drive and the hike will have thinned the herd.

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