A return to North America15th August 2023
Last month, I made a return to North America after an absence of nearly four years. There might have been a trip to Colorado in 2020 only for the pandemic but I chose the San Francisco Bay Area as a follow-up to my time in British Columbia.
This time around, it was hiking around the Bay Area that provided the main lure. San Francisco itself is often beset by fog during the summer because of climatic conditions, but there are clear spells too. The meeting of cooler oceanic air with hotter continental air is the cause of this, and that cooler air also makes the city much cooler than other surrounding areas too.
For photography, that means that you need to take your chances when you get them. My first evening there was a cloudy affair as was the next day, apart from a break in the cloud cover during the morning time. The return of cloud cover did little to help photographic efforts around Golden Gate Park, Land’s End, Bake Beach, Marshall’s Beach, Golden Gate and Crissy Field. There was a lot of fog obscuring the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands too. A partial reprise a few days later benefitted from an afternoon break in cloud cover to provide some impressive lighting at times.
Before that though, I went to Angel Island State Park where some unusual weather was seen. There was an odd juxtaposition of fog and low cloud along with hot strong sunshine. The latter won out much of the time and I got to see many little lizards scurrying about the place on a hike that took in Mount Livermore as I went around the island. On my return to the mainland, I was drawn back to Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge by way of the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharfe. There were rewards for this reprisal and I tried out a bus on the way back to the city too.
That reconnaissance came in handy for a trip to Muir Woods National Monument since the journey to Sausalito used the services of the same bus company. Once there, a pre-booked shuttle conveyed me to the National Monument where I spent most of the day. The shade of the tree cover provided some respite from the intense warm sunshine. On the way back from Sausalito, I got a good sighting of the Golden Gate Bridge that encouraged me to walk over and back across it to get some pleasing photos. A mistake with a bus made the return to my lodgings a lot longer, but no harm was done. That misstep was to have its uses for someone else during the following weekend.
Point Reyes National Seashore was my target for the next day, though it might have been better to head to Stinson Beach instead since the weekend bus timings were better for that location. Nevertheless, I enjoyed a shaded hike around Mount Wittenberg and returned to San Francisco at the time that I had planned. Since this was my first time there, I did not overstay to avoid problems with transportation.
Two days later, it was the turn of Stinson Beach and Mount Tamalpais State Park. If this had been a weekend venture, there might have been a circular hike taking in more of the Matt Davis Trail. However, I was sated with the ascent that took me along part of the Dipsea Trail and the Steep Ravine Trail, though the segment of the Matt Davis Trail that I briefly sampled more than intrigued me so it pained me to turn back. That was to catch the last bus of the day to Sausalito, which met with the ferry to San Francisco despite a need to attend to a poorly man at the side of the road on the way. That ferry boat’s close passage by Alcatraz was my closest approach to the iconic location of my trip, and I feel no need to have got any nearer.
Souvenir hunting had its effect on my choices too. For one thing, it drew back to Point Reyes National Seashore for another hike. This time, I headed towards the coast on the Bear Valley Trail before making a loop at the end using the Glen Trail and the Coastal Trail. That gained me expansive views up and down the coast before returning to the Bear Valley Trail near Arch Rock. There was a lot of tree-shaded hiking too, which was just as well given the heat of the day. Getting back to the visitor centre early meant that I could go back to San Rafael on an earlier bus. From there, I went around by El Cerrito to gain some inspiration for a visit to the East Bay Parks.
Before that, I headed to Sausalito for another souvenir and then to San Francisco City Hall once the sky had cleared. From there, it was back to El Cerrito where I made my way to Wildcat Canyon Regional Park. Though there were possibilities for gaining more height, I eschewed these because my legs felt less strong after all my exploits. My passage took me through Tilden Nature Park and then to Tilden Regional Park. After that, I descended to North Berkley, from where I went to Daly City to see if I could reach Mount San Bruno State Park. Fog halted that exploit so I returned to my lodgings, not displeased at being halted. Much had been gained and I flew home the next day without any regrets.
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