Gavin Schreiner packs his board through the Lost Coast fog March 23. | Photo by Cullen Wigger

A Surfer’s Tale: From Heaven to Quarantine

An account of one HSU surfer's last breath of clean, fresh air
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An account of one HSU surfer’s last breath of clean, fresh air

When Humboldt State University forestry major Gavin Schreiner set out on a 10-day surf trip over spring break, he had no clue what he would return to.

Planned months in advance, Schreiner wasn’t going to let a virus stand in the way of his vacation. Packing over 50 pounds of food and supplies, he and a friend hiked nine miles up the coast of California. Schreiner stopped along the way to admire otters, countless shells and of course, to surf.

“Surfing is obviously my favorite part and that’s the drive to go, but I love camping anyway,” Schreiner said. “I’m an avid backpacker. I’ve been through the Trinity Alps and definitely backpacked into SoCal a bunch.”

A territorial surfer, Schreiner requested the location not be named, especially after this trip. Between spring break and COVID-19, the waves were packed.

“It’s definitely my life path to surf until I die.”

Gavin Schreiner

“It was the most crowded anyone has ever seen that spot,” Schreiner said.

Fortunately for those adventurous enough, there are nine miles of coast to surf on the way.

“There’s the main surf spot out there, but there’s countless other waves along there,” Schreiner said. “It’s like a wave park. There’s so many different types of waves and different spots you can surf, and all offer different excitements.”

Time between surf sessions consists of eating, sleeping and battling the elements to stay comfortable.

“On the coast the weather changes super quick, so you have to be shedding layers, putting layers back on and also watching the waves 24/7 to make sure you get the best seshes [sessions] in,” Schreiner said.

This is the longest trip Schreiner has taken so far, but he wants to break the record.

“If we could spend a month, I would be in for that,” Schreiner said.

At 20 years old, Schreiner has been surfing over half his life.

“Surfing and the ocean is my number one priority,” Schreiner said. “It’s definitely my life path to surf until I die.”

When he returned from his 10-day trip, Schreiner was greeted by strangers wearing masks and businesses with closed doors. The virus was not a factor in the trip. Surfers treated each other with the same brotherly love and competition. Schreiner would’ve stayed longer if it weren’t for school.

“We kinda knew a little bit going into it that shit was going crazy,” Schreiner said. “The only thing we reconsidered was whether or not we could stay indefinitely and figure out a way to complete homework assignments out there.”

Now that he’s back home, he tries to surf every day to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I know a lot of my friends down south can’t surf because they’re closing the beaches, so I definitely feel super blessed to be up here right now,” Schreiner said. “I can follow social distancing and still go out every day.”

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