[Ed’s note: The ChachFiles is a travel-based photo series in which photographer Ryan “Chachi” Craig let’s us ride shotgun on his strike missions around the world, looking for new angles on some of the best waves and most intriguing personalities in surfing.]

The week has finally arrived for the North Shore to Oahu to get its first taste of winter. Every surfer on Oahu has been anticipating this week’s northwest swell, hoping that it would be large enough (and west enough) to wash away summer’s sand deposits at Ehukai Beach Park. Although there’s been plenty of October swells in years past, I’m typically stuck in California this time of year.

This year, however, I pledged to get here earlier and see the transformation of the beach with my own two eyes. Swells under 8 feet don’t usually have enough power to really push all the built-up sand off the reef, but thankfully, this swell was forecasted to be just a touch bigger than that. We went to sleep on Sunday night, seeing the energy slowing filling in all day, with high hopes for Monday and Tuesday.

And boy did the swell deliver.

As we had all hoped, the swell moved enough sand for Pipeline to show moments of her magical self. Familiar faces began to surface around this iconic strip of beach and lots of guys dusted off their bigger boards to test out their courage. Although Pipeline will likely see much better days throughout the course of this winter, the season has officially begun. And even though my feet are already covered in fin blisters from a few lengthy swims, I couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming months.