One of the great things about going paddling is that every session is guaranteed to be different. You never know what you might encounter and here in Los Angeles that begins with the weather. Yes, Southern California is known for its abundance of sunshine. Lesser known outside the region is the high likelihood that you’ll encounter a thick layer of fog blanketing the ocean. My paddle earlier this week was one of those days.
I left home a few miles inland and drove to my local launch spot in the Ballona Creek just south of Marina del Rey. As I descended the hill towards the water the clear blue skies began to transition into a white haze. I snagged the last parking spot along the street closest to where I planned to launch and transferred my Infinity Downtown from its perch on the roof rack to the grassy median separating the street from the sidewalk.
From there, it is a short walk to my “secret” launch site at Loyola Marymount University’s old rowing site. The decade’s old concrete spillway hasn’t been used by LMU’s athletes for at least as long as I’ve been living in LA and is my local spot to launch. Parking is free and it is closer than driving all the way to Marina del Rey or King Harbor in Redondo Beach. Best of all, it is only around 200 yards out to the ocean, compared to two miles when launching inside Marina del Rey at Mother’s Beach.
Paddling in the fog can be a surreal experience. While it’s best not to stray far from shore, the cool and calm nature of being in the middle of a fog bank on the ocean offers a sense of solitude not found elsewhere in nature.
I plotted a course just outside the impact zone of the breaking waves and began to make my way north towards the Venice Pier. It wasn’t long before the Marina del Rey breakwall behind me had disappeared behind a thick gray wall of fog.
Dolphin breaching the surface in the fog.
Just as I was beginning to feel like there was nothing around me I heard the distinctive gurgling phooosh from a group of dolphins off to my left. The dolphins were feeding on a school of small silvery fish and didn’t seem to mind my presence as we crossed paths while I slowly turned and retraced my path back the way I had come.
As I passed the breakwall at the mouth of the Ballona Creek I had my second chance encounter of the day when I met a photographer practicing his craft from a rocky perch. He was kind enough to share a few of his shots with me for this story. Check out his work at Shiloh Mathis Photography and give his Instagram page a follow.
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