Hills and Dales of Summer in San Francisco

During this prolonged blogging blackout, when all I could do was try to catch up with our wonderful trip to the Andes, I was doing lots of fun stuff around here too. In the past few weeks I’ve had some lovely walks, and the lovely experience of going to an obscure cement platform in the Marin headlands for Rebecca Solnit’s 50th birthday party on Friday, June 24. It was surprisingly a fog-free night and we got to the Rodeo Beach parking lot about a half hour before sunset (after meeting Adriana near Caltrain, and hoping against hope that we’d get stuck in traffic while Critical Mass rolled by! Hugh and I were totally psyched to be stuck in a car while bikes streamed around us… but we didn’t meet it, alas!).

Gorgeous light as we hiked north through the Marin Headlands...

That cement platform way down there is where we were headed. Eventually we were freezing, but it was a spectacular evening with lovely folks...

I still take my usual ride up Twin Peaks a couple of times a month at least.

Lots of fog and wind during June, practically blowing me off the hill in mid-month when I was up there.

Though we had a heavy rain on June 28, the hills are definitely heading towards the normal mid-summer dry brownness.

I'd been seeing the pink bow (for HIV/AIDS awareness) that was placed near the top of Twin Peaks. As I drew nearer, it took on a different appearance.

A bunch of pink garbage bags? Some kind of plastic wrapping...

We had Adriana’s cousin visiting for Gay Pride week, and we took him on one of my favorite long walks, over Liberty Hill, past the Corwin community garden, Kite Hill, the Pemberton Steps, Tank Hill, and Corona Heights, before landing at 2223 Market for a delicious, well-earned dinner.

From Corona Heights we gazed across the Mission. See Dolores Park full of people?

Here is the same view, close-up... I really love how Dolores Park has become this open public space throughout the week, at all times of day and night.

On Tank Hill we came up on this big patch of "Farewell to Spring" but when we visited San Bruno Mountain a week later, wow! We saw whole hillsides covered with it... now if those folks who put pink plastic on Twin Peaks could just control the rain, they could make a patch of pink flowers appear on demand for Pride Week every year!

"Farewell to Spring" blooming on Corona Heights too! Wildflowers all over town...

View due north from the slopes of Tank Hill, looking across the Haight Ashbury.

This is from the top of Tank Hill looking north.

Looking back down at Kite Hill from Tank Hill... another great place for views.

View across Eureka Valley from Corona Heights, looking southwest towards Twin Peaks.

Adriana, looking great on Corona Heights!

We also took a fantastic hike on San Bruno Mountain with David Schooley, who wrote the piece on the mountain for “Ten Years That Shook the City”. He’s a lovely guy, full of fascinating stories, his own and that of hermits on the mountain. He also knows all the plants and critters up there, and has spent decades helping people like me learn about the place. It’s a fantastic ecological treasure, and if you haven’t been up there for a hike, get on it!

David and Adriana start walking up Buckeye Canyon, just west of the town of Brisbane.

San Bruno Mountain had a big fire two years ago and one of the great pleasures of David's tour was his ability to show us the new growth of native plants, like this wild cherry "Islay" tree.

In the foreground is an original shellmound halfway up Buckeye Canyon.

Just beneath the shellmound is this wide area of a year-round running creek, which was surely once used for food preparation by the people who lived here for thousands of years.

Here David gestures down the valley while we stand on the shellmound together.

California Buckeye blossom.

There are a couple of different endangered Manzanitas endemic to San Bruno Mountain. David showed us this one, hidden in an area of oak forest that burned during the fire. Now the manzanita was coming back to life thanks to the fire having opened up the oak canopy.

Here you can see tons of blueblossom ceanothus that has flourished in the oak forest after the fire.

Another view of oak and ceanothus.

Once there'd been a small patch of Yerba Santa, but after the fire, it had reappeared in a huge swath of the ridge above Buckeye Canyon.

We had a blast as we made our way up David’s trail, which took us up through the oak forest to a high point above Buckeye Canyon. Then we cut across to the ridge that separates the various parts of Buckeye from Owl Canyon. Here are some of the views we encountered on the way, including this massive hillside of “Farewell to Spring.”

The purple "Farewell to Spring" fill the slope across from our trail.

David and Adri on the trail going up the hill.

Funny stories along the way...

We got up pretty high where the views were just great.

Skirting the ridge to get over to Owl Canyon.

After all these photos showing how lush it is when you’re actually on San Bruno Mountain, here’s a couple of facing shots with the arrows pointing to the locations that each picture was taken from:

After our hike we rode our bikes to Candlestick Point State Recreation Area and from the fishing pier at the end of the red arrow, I took the next photo, where you can see the spot this photo was taken from.

The view back at San Bruno Mountain from the fishing pier at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area.

The view up Owl Canyon.

Looking down into Owl Canyon.

View towards downtown San Francisco from the mountain.

Flowers abloom looking up the ridge.

Flowers in close-up...

Lots of pink flowers during this great walk... hard to believe it was the 3rd of July, but then it's hard to believe we had five hours of hard rain on June 28 too...

Another candidate for Twin Peaks planting! Perfect for the annual pink triangle or bow.

Name that flower!

Farewell to Spring! or June!

Nice place to live, eh? Incredible beauty, all just a bike ride away, rarely even an hour…

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