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Fred Swegles

Photos and Text by Fred Swegles

When a mountain of sand suddenly appears on your beach and it’s the biggest wave around, you may not find many surfers in the water. The sand hill itself becomes the playground, Boogie Boards and bodies surfing their way, or somersaulting, down the slope.

Every fall, the city pushes sand from shore up onto the back of San Clemente’s beaches.

The goal is to protect facilities from winter storm erosion, building a sand cushion. For opportunistic beachgoers, the soft mound becomes a place to frolic.

On this day, there was so little surf that a crew of bodyboarders took time to sculpt the sand hill into a ramp. Children, some with parents guiding them, careened down the slope. A young couple shared a tender moment at water’s edge. Visitors sized up the rear of the just-built berm. And the autumn ocean was still warm enough for bathers to immerse themselves in calm waters to relish the day’s final moments.

The city pushes sand on beaches between Linda Lane and south T-Street. How much of the stockpiled sand will stay intact, withstanding assaults by winter storm surf, varies from year to year.

Have you ever tracked our San Clemente sunsets along the horizon as the seasons progress? Try it, to better appreciate how our solar source takes us from summer to winter and back.

Days are shortening now, as the sun’s global path heads south and we transition toward winter. On the winter solstice, Dec. 21, our sunsets will appear about as far south as they get.

Then days start to lengthen. Track the sunsets, inching their way northward, from left to right along the horizon, the sun’s path gaining latitude, promising warmer weather as summer nears, reaching its pinnacle around the summer solstice on June 21.

Fred Swegles is a longtime San Clemente resident with five decades of reporting experience in the city. Fred can be reached at

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