Schooner Gulch



I'm exhausted. I've come to camp at Gerstle Cove to photograph Salt Point, but on my first morning here my intuition has led me away to the remoter Schooner Gulch in Mendocino County. 

When I arrive cars are already parked along the road. As I'm unloading my camera, a couple from Washington ask if I've been there before. When I say yes, they ask how far "it" is. What I ask "it", they say the beach and I realize that they're asking about Bowling Ball Beach, which is the main attraction to the gulch. 

I've never managed to find Bowling Ball Beach interesting, so I'll go the opposite direction of the folks from Washington, towards the seemingly simple and common rocks that lay northward. I believe that is always the power of art, it leads in directions away from the crowds. 

I have history with these rocks. This is where I shot my first environmental nudes, and the I've enjoyed watching the landscape shift and evolve over the years. Sand has been swept in by the waves and trapped by a break, forcing the beach higher and higher, and the rocks seemingly lower and lower.

Each visit brings a new perspective. This time as I walk the small area for hours I notice a rock whose skin resembles that of a whale. Then, as I look south, I see what looks more like a pod of whales diving beneath the ocean than a group of dark, polished rocks atop the wet, smooth sand. 

As I set up my camera the sea laughs at me, as it does all view camera photographers, by keeping its waves small until I place my head beneath the dark cloth, and water comes seemingly from nowhere to soak my shoes, ankles, and pants. It is this trickster quality that keeps me returning here, seeing what is new, even as I remember the old.