I met Patrick Trefz in Alaska. This is Patrick cooking eggs with fire-roasted jalapenos on the beach in Yakutat with the snow-covered Wrangell-Saint Elias Mountain range behind him. On this evening Patrick and I drove out to the beach to watch the sun set behind the ancient, white peaks, this didn’t occur until around 11pm that evening. Whilst we waited, I walked the tide line looking at the unique flotsam and collecting interesting pieces of driftwood to whittle by the fire. At the top of the tide line the large paw prints of a Brown Bear were easily identifiable. I could see clearly the path the bear took as it made its way to the end of the beach and around the bend of the shoreline, the definitive marks the hard claws made on the leading edge of each paw print were unsettling to this foreigner.

Patrick Trefz cooking by a campfire as the sun sets in Alaska
Patrick Trefz, Alaska, circa 2000. Photo Kidman

Patrick and I made a fire, we cooked the food and took in the clear air, beauty and the silence of our surrounds. Once the sun had set, we decided to go home. This is where our troubles began. Being greenhorns, we’d driven our car too far into the sand and we were bogged. This was before mobile phones, so there was no way of alerting anyone to our situation. On the way out to the beach that afternoon, along the side of the dirt road, we’d passed a Mother Brown Bear with two cubs. Considering our situation, I said to Patrick, “There’s no way I’m walking out of here on that road.”
We’d also been told by locals that staying in a car when you’d been cooking food was not a good idea, as the bears smell the food and come around to scavenge.
My solution was to paddle across the bay to where we were staying. We could see the orange lights on the pier in the distance.
We only had shortboards in the car. For the next five and half hours we paddled against wind, through the frigid night towards the pier. Luckily the tide was with us. We landed around 4.30 AM.

Patrick and I have remained friends, we’ve worked on many projects together. They are always interesting, as Patrick never fails to put his spicey, German spin on things. In 2005 Patrick began working with Jim Denevan, (Chef and Artist). Patrick’s work with Jim Denevan is as remarkable as what Jim creates. Patrick’s black and white photos of Jim’s markings in the sand, which include the cliffs and tide lines are inspired, brilliant compositions of the nature they are both experiencing. Patrick has published books and made short films featuring Denevan’s work. Culminating in 2022, when Patrick released, Man in The Field – The Life and Art of Jim Denevan. Five years in the making, Patrick used his extensive knowledge of art, filmmaking, music, food, family, and his friendship with Jim to shed rare light on Denevan’s philosophies and what he creates. The film is a must-watch.

In 2020 Patrick made this film, Zoriontasuna Eta Askatasuna, featuring Basque surfboard shaper Peta Barrel and Lee Ann Curren with the assistance of Big Sky Limited.

Trefz by The Windy Hills

Featuring Jay Krugener - drums and melodica, Paul Brewer - keys, vox, Andrew Kidman - guitar, vox, Martin Jones – Bass. Trefz is a remix of the song they recorded for Patricks’s film Surfers Blood.