Date: January 2018
The county of San Francisco is all city. Here and there, however, there was left an undeveloped area with an almost wild feel to it. One such place is Land's End, today a part of the Golden Fate National Recreation Area.
While Land's End isn't on the absolute must see list of SF tourists, it still attracts many people, and often it is difficult to find a parking spot at the main lot by the visitor center.
Up until the date of this hike I, like many other visitors, was satisfied with viewing at the ruins of Sutro Baths, and enjoying the beach below.
|View of the Sutra Baths|
|Our hike as captured by Pappa Quail's GPS|
|Seaside Fleabane, Erigeron glaucus|
|Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium|
I spotted a hawk perched on a brach of one of these trees and pointed it to the group. Both Pappa Quail and my elder chika trained their camera at the bird. It didn't seem to mind one bit.
|The USS San Francisco Memorial|
After admiring the USS San Francisco memorial I found the upper trail at the edge of the parking lot and commenced walking, now east bound. Before long I was engulfed in vegetation. The sound of the crashing waves below drowned the sounds of the city above and like by magic, I felt like I was out in the wilderness, away from society.
But not far enough from al the escaped cultivars that populate this park. Many of the plants I saw there were immigrants, brought from overseas to the yards and gardens of the city. Some just took off and set their roots out in the wild.
|Plume Acacia, Albizia lophantha|
Wildlife too we encountered on this hike. Birds, mainly.
|Anna's Hummingbird, male|
There too were areas of native vegetation rehabilitation. The blood currant was in bloom, just as pretty as any of the imported garden plants. Indeed, it is now used to beautify many a California yard, including my own.
|Blood Currant, Ribes sanguineum|
There was also a view of the neighborhood that's between the Presidio and Land's End, and beyond it in the background sticks up the new monster skyscraper in downtown San Francisco.
While I was admiring the geographical features Pappa Quail was looking for birds. And he found many of them, ocean side.
From the north end of Land's End we took the sidewalk up along El Camino Del Mar, the road that will eventually bring us back to the upper trail. It was a bit unusual to have our hike turn into a city walk but that was the quickest way up and back on our planned loop trail. And it too provided some interesting sights. Like this bump I thought was a bird on the lower branch of this tree below. (A close up revealed it to be the stump of a branch.)
|Monument for Peace|
|It's nice to see green in winter. It would hurt in summer. Either way, this isn't public grass to run and roll on.|
On my solo hike I didn't go all the way down to the beach itself, but enjoyed the nice coastal sight from above. There were very few people there and the sound of the sound of the waves drowned all other sounds.
On the group hike I had to exercise my will to get the children to the labyrinth first but after that we all went down and enjoyed a good time at the beach among a gazillion other people. The waves were higher and stronger but the dominant sound was that of humans talking, shouting, and laughing.
|Mile Rock Beach|
The first time I encountered a labyrinth of this type was during my hike at Sibley Volcanic Regional Park. Later I have found the one at the top of Mori Point, along with its numerous (and still multiplying) little 'offsprings'. When I learned that Land's End has one I had to include it in my hike plan, and I wasn't disappointed.
Built by the artist Eduardo Aguilera, this labyrinth is much more interesting and complex than the simple spirals laid out in other places. It has become a well loved landmark and its location is prime, no doubt. It was almost impossible for me to get a people-free photo of this monument.
I prompted all the 4H hikers to go through the labyrinth. Meanwhile I scouted the horizon. I didn't see any whales that day, but it was impossible to ignore the huge liner that was making its way slowly to the mouth of the Golden Gate.
|What goods do you bring from far away?|
We continued west on the lower trail. For some time we were once again walking in an almost wild setting but soon the path widened and became paved. We reached the cemented vista point just below the stairs leading to the USS San Francisco Memorial. Below, just off shore were the remains of an old shipwreck, sticking out of the water.
From there, it was a matter of five minutes walk back to the visitor center and the parking lot. Any thoughts I had of going down to the beach by the Sutro Baths were dismissed - the children had already their beach time and were ready to go home. None of us had any thoughts of remaining in the City for further exploration that day.
This loop trail is fairly short and can be walked quickly if fitness is the only thing on one's mind. Taking the time, however, is very rewarding because a large art of this trail still has a very wild feel to it, and provides wonderful opportunities to immerse in Nature. In an urban block such as San Francisco, that is priceless.