Entries tagged with “GGNRA”.


It was supposed to be a warm, sunny day.

We had slathered on the sunscreen and filled the Camelbaks up to capacity. The weather forecast said 68 and sunny throughout Marin.

But as we approached it, the bridge was wreathed in fog. And as we started up Mt. Tam to Pan Toll Ranger Station, the fog got thicker. And thicker. And then it started to drip rain in spurts. And the fog was so thick you could barely see 50 feet up the road.

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Took a stroll through the eucalyptus and pine scrub of the Presidio after work today.

Chancing upon a patch of sun-ripened, summer sweet blackberries is more than enough reward for the quick pace up the hill. The patch has been picked over in spots easy to reach from the trail. I’m not the only one who can’t resist berries right off the vine.

But if you know where to look behind the branches and under the leaves, there are ripe, juicy berries waiting still.

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wood-pattern

Check out the great artwork bark beetles did in this fallen log!

Stay tuned, and we’ll tell you all about our great hike down the Peninsula with the Woodswoman.

Sometimes, on a sunny early spring day, when life has been crazy and stressful, you just need to sit. and soak up the sun. and feel the grass under your fingers. and breathe the salt air as the ocean tumbles its way past the Golden Gate and into the Bay.

Sometimes it’s worth a drive across the city for the smell of Eucalyptus trees as they rustle in the wind.

To sit beneath steel girders reaching out and up and through, slicing the blue, blue sky into manageable triangles, parallelograms, and polygons less easily described.

Where the knowing, confined mind sees “art” and either admires or dismisses: what value can we find in jumbled steel? But the young, not bound into these rigid expectations, look, and wonder, and conclude: a giant structure on which to play.

diSuvero

And who doesn’t yearn to climb these beams? Is that not the power of their artistry? Not a simulation of motion, but an invitation to engage, to move, to climb, to soar.

While the young ones dash and tumble, we are content to sit, with red-painted steel a presence above and behind us, looking towards another, grander monolith of red-painted steel and the tossing, foam-tipped chasm it traverses.

The sun is bright, but the wind is biting. We huddle down into sweaters suddenly inadequate for the deceptive, mercurial breeze.

If we were children running and shouting in the long grass, we would not feel the cold. If we were birds leaping from trees along the water’s edge, we would welcome the gusts and swells of the wind.

But we are earth-bound, sedentary, confined on this day. And the brightness of the sky, the power of the water, the damp succor of the grass—it anchors us as the wind swoops and dives, but it does not keep us warm.

Mark di Suvero exhibition at Crissy Field, part of SFMOMA On the Go

The hiking book: Hiking the San Francisco Bay Area (Falcon Guides)
The distance: 6 miles
The CityGirls rating: 5

We needed to get out of the city for a bit but didn’t want to drive too far, so we headed south to some of the protected land on the Peninsula. There’s a big slice of land on the Peninsula that is protected as state and county parks, fish and game refuge, and water district lands.

20130210_rocks-on-the-ridge

Sweeney Ridge is across the Peninsula from the airport and at the northern end of the chain of reservoir lakes that store water for the city of San Francisco.

In San Francisco, 85% of our water comes from Hetch Hetchy, a dammed valley in Yosemite National Park. The Hetch Hetchy dam and water system were created in the early 20th century to provide water for the Bay Area. The dam is owned by the city of San Francisco and provides water for much of the Bay Area.

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The hiking book: Hiking the San Francisco Bay Area (Falcon Guides)
The distance: 10.2 miles
The CityGirls rating: 7

Craving ocean and an escape from the city, we braved holiday-weekend crowds at Point Reyes National Seashore to hike Tomales Point. The weather was perfect as we drove up through Marin—a warm, sunny, spring-like day that reminds us just how lucky we are to live in the Bay Area.

Point Reyes National Seashore is a diffuse park with discrete sections of trails. We started at Pierce Point Ranch, an historic cattle ranch up near the tip of the park. While Piece Point Ranch is no longer operational, we passed a handful of other ranches, established in the late 1800s, that are still in operation.

20130216_Pierce-Ranch

The hike up Tomales Point is pretty much a straight shot from the ranch. The trail begins by heading up to the top of the bluffs along the ocean’s edge, with an achingly beautiful view of the bright blue sky, the turquoise ocean, and the mottled green hills.

20130216_cliffs

As we got closer to the edge of the bluff, we could smell the salt and hear the surf against the rocks below. There’s something about sea air that invigorates and rejuvenates, and we soaked it in.

The middle part of the trail, once it left the edge of the bluff was much less exciting and clogged with other hikers, but we continued on, and the payoff was well worth it.

20130216_end-of-the-world

We took the trail all the way out to the tip of Tomales Bluff, and it felt like the ends of the earth, with waves crashing, birds circling, wind whipping by, and the ocean stretching out endlessly to the west. There were a bunch of other people there, but the grandeur of the rocks and the waves eclipsed any feelings of crowding.

20130216_Tomales-Bluff-1

It was beautiful and severe and wild and good for the soul.

birdsThe hiking book said this was a good trail for wildlife spotting, and spot wildlife we did. As soon as we got out on the bluff at the beginning of the hike, we saw a red tailed hawk darting and flitting above the scrub.

We often see vultures circling overhead when we go hiking, but hawk sightings are much more rare. This one flew along beside us and the beside the trail for a while, and we even saw it stoop and dive.

Out at the end of the Point we saw a whole bunch of shore birds sitting on the rocks, cleaning in the tidepools, and flying arcs along the bluffs.

The most exciting of these was the black oystercatcher, which has a bright orange beak. Really, what’s better than a bright orange beak?

Along with the oystercatcher, we saw cormorants and two species of gulls.

Tomales Point is also known for its population of tule elk, a subspecies endemic to northern California. The name tule elk comes from the marsh plant tule, on which the elk feed.

Tule elk were thought to be extinct in 1870s, when a small herd (less than 10!) were found near San Luis Obispo. The owner of the land where these elk were found protected them, and the population rebounded, leading to the need to resettle the elk elsewhere in California.

We were hoping to catch a glimpse of the elk, and as we hiked out to the point, we saw a couple herds of them on the hills in the distance.

On the way back we got an even better view, as the fog rolled in and the elk became less shy. We saw one herd that was just on the other side of a low rise from the trail—we could see their antlers and ears poking up behind the scrub. Farther along the trail, we came across another herd grazing not more than 50 feet off the side of the trail!

20130216_Tulle-Elk

 

HIKE NOTES
Ease of following designated hike: 10. There’s just the one trail from the ranch out to the end of the Point.
Best season to hike: Spring, fall, or spring-like days in mid-February. Definitely go when it’s clear.
Our hike time: 3.75 hours.
Solitude: 3. There were a couple spots early in the hike where we had the place to ourselves, but most of it was super crowded.