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Carl's Jr. Near Trestles is a true surfing icon.

Fighting crowds, or eating burgers. You choose. Photos: (L) Austin Fernand (R) Reed Naliboff//Unsplash


The Inertia

Lower Trestles is an adventure designed to wear you down every step of the way. Is it the best wave Southern California has to offer? Easily – but nabbing one is physically and emotionally exhausting. The walk down the trail is 15 to 20 minutes just to reach the sand. The cobblestones you must traverse for the paddle out want nothing more than to make you slip and fall in three inches of water. And, once you do finally make it out to the lineup, you have the honor of sword-fighting with roughly 7,000 guys named Chet from Costa Mesa until you are drained of the will to live. Oh, and then you need to hoof it back up the trail once you’re done too.

The crowd around you can make you feel like you’re playing surfing’s very own free-to-play mobile game. It’s class warfare at its finest – you can surf the break just the same as everyone else, but the whole experience is laced with hassles you can pay to remove. For an extra $1,000, you can upgrade to a mid-length to get more waves! For just $2,000, you can skip the walk and E-Bike your way to Lowers! Upgrade to the CRYPTO BRO EDITION and have a friggin boat drop you off right at the peak! For $100,000, you can build a catapult that will launch everyone that claims to be a Trestles local into the nearest Waste Management receptacle! And for the low, low price of $100 a session, you can speak to a licensed therapist about why you continue to torture yourself by surfing Trestles in the first place! All major credit cards accepted. Offers not available east of Interstate 5.

But a light exists at the end of the tunnel to SoCal Snake Town. When you finally emerge at the head of the trail, freeway traffic snarling at your back, feet on fire because you forgot to bring shoes, and neon wetsuit clad teenagers from San Clemente in front of you preparing to skip down the trail into hell, you see the one bastion of holiness in this otherwise godforsaken hellhole of a surf break: a Carl’s Jr.

It’s just…there. It’s RIGHT THERE. It might only be 200 steps from the trailhead to the door. After driving an hour, hiking a few miles, battling a sea of cobblestone horny cavemen for the right to surf a wave with three other guys on it, and sincerely wondering if the morning would have been better spent doing cannonballs into a woodchipper, this ease of access seems implausible.

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And all of this hatred has worked up quite the appetite.

Do better options exist up the road? Sure, but after spending a morning traversing Southern California by car and foot, this easy, braindead food is delightfully simplistic.

This particular Carl’s Jr. should be celebrated for offering relaxing, uncomplicated services to the surfing community – a Doctor Jekyll to Trestles’ ferocious Mr. Hyde. Carl The Younger does not judge your session, snake your wave, or yell at you for whatever atrocious surfing crimes you’ve committed; Carl welcomes you in, providing shelter, a vinyl booth to rest your weary post-session soul, and charbroiled comfort. I’m not saying that I ate a Big Carl and saw God – but if I did see God, they would definitely appear with a side of fries and a large soft drink. Truly the embodiment of what fast food was meant to be.

Is this me celebrating America’s obsession with unhealthy foods and empty calories? No. This is no celebration of our fast-food nation; this is a celebration of something surfing rarely ever has, but we all crave – convenience, especially in the face of a break as thoroughly inconvenient as Trestles. It serves as a reminder that good does occasionally exist in the world, even if that good costs $12 and may give you diabetes.

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