It’s 8:15am when we descend upon the leisurely 1 mile trail from the Cristianitos Road exit off the 5 in San Clemente down to Trestles, the last of Southern California beaches to maintain it’s sense of escape. The marine layer has yet to burn off, confusing tourists from the east expecting a sunny Orange County vacation, and giving us some much-needed relief from the humid July heat. Along the hike we are passed by weathered old time surfers and bleach-blond groms alike; most are skating or riding rusty beach cruisers with their surf boards by their side. They throw out a Shaka- the “namaste” of the surf world- as they pass. We walk underneath the train tracks between the S and T of the graffiti-tagged concrete Trestles sign, removing our Rainbows to feel the warm sand beneath our toes. The beach is deserted and wide- sea walls have yet to destroy this patch of paradise. We gaze out upon the glassy green water dotted by a row of surfers in black wetsuits; they look like seals in the overcast light. It is probably one of the few places in the world where there are more people in the water than on the land.

You can hear the force of the 2-foot waves as they crash onto the shore, beautifully juxtaposing power with peacefulness. Every so often there is a slight pause between one wave and the next, filling the entire beach with an eery sense of stillness, as if the entire world stops moving for a quarter of a second. The occasional Amtrak train gently rumbles the beach like thunder, competing with the crash of the waves. Just thirty minutes later the marine later begins to burn off and the sun peeks it’s hopeful rays through the clouds.

Beyond the lineup we spot the arch of a dolphin’s back, playfully skipping through the water. The beautiful animal is soon joined by three more dolphins, all blissfully galloping towards Lower Trestles. I wonder if this particular pod comes here often, if Trestles holds a special place in their hearts as it does mine.

I wish I could collect this moment in a snow globe and revisit it forever.