Field Trip | The Road Less Traveled

The Road Less Traveled
An excerpt from the filming of Jack Coleman's new film, ‘The Zone

The trip was set, a surf adventure into the lost coast of Baja. There were six of us onboard for the journey, our convoy consisted of 3 vehicles, 10 gallons of gas, lots of firewood, and as many boards as we could fit on top of that. I have been down into this zone only twice, each time to no avail. The spots have a mysticism attached to them, and I know guys who have scored. All I could think of was perfect, empty waves and point break after point break, all to ourselves. We had a guide to help us find our way this time, so I was certain we were going to score. With the crew ready, the map in hand, and the froth waiting for us, we were off.

As we trekked into the desert, I got the feeling that things could get serious. We were about 75 miles from any type of civilization. Our trucks went deeper and deeper, passing mediocre waves along the way. But finally, we hit the lost coastline. Our guide told us, “there’s another spot right around the corner,” but in Baja, that corner can sometimes be a mountain. As we descended down multiple trails in some of the most extreme terrain I’ve ever driven through in Baja, we reached our destination. I wasn’t sure if this was the spot I had heard of, but by this point, it was necessary to hunker down and get in the water because we were running out of light.

Our surf started out so-so, the swell was healthy but the waves had a bit of a pinch on the end section. I set up my camera and started documenting the surf. We caught a few waves, but I could tell nothing spectacular was going to happen. After about 30 minutes of surfing, I could see out of the corner of my eye that one of our guys was waving to me from the water. I thought that was a little strange, so I continued shooting the action. After his trek along the treacherous coastline up the point, I noticed our friend holding his eye, and then I could see red. That was a defining moment of our trip. On only his third wave, one of our crew took a board directly beneath his eye, and things got intense. I ran over to him hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. When I got to him to assess the damage, it was clear, we might have to leave as quickly as we got there. The cut wasn’t life threatening, but it was a good one. A punchers cut below the eye about two inches in length, with blood gushing out in and around the socket. Upon my surveillance, it wasn’t an option to drive out. It was dark, and the trek out would have been almost impossible through the night. All he could do is go back to camp, put some pressure on it, and wait for the rest of the guys to come in.

We decided it was best to stay the night, break down camp the next day, and head out first thing in the morning. That night was a prime example of people coming together to get through a serious situation. We set up a semi-first aid tent where he lay, each taking turns tending to his cut. The blood didn’t subside for hours, but he made it through the night, waking up in the morning cracking jokes with lots of bandages wrapped around his head and eye. We convoyed to the main road, where it was decided that our guide and our injured comrade would drive back on their own, back to the States. What was once six, was now four.

The trip was supposed to be a four-day strike mission, but with a lighter crew, and lots of food and firewood, we stayed down for a total of ten days. Searching some more “safe” zones I knew of, hoping the waves would stay up. For the most part, the rest of our adventure was the downside of the swells energy, but the lure of cooking over open fire & the overall positive attitude of our remaining crew made the trip a memorable one. It’s always exciting finding new waves, and that’s the main reason for any surf trip: to make new memories. Surfing is our life, and this trip will be engraved in all of our heads for the rest of our days. Sometimes it’s necessary to take some risks and go down the road less traveled.

Words and Photos by Jack Coleman