It is Throwback Thursday and a perfect opportunity for me to head back to November 2016. That was when we were hiking to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Not to take the normal route, we decided hiking was a better option. And why not?
Setting the scene
As I haven’t really posted too much about our trip to Mountain View and San Francisco, I feel it is best to set the scene. Back in November last year, Jit and a colleague were speaking at the Google Test Conference (better known as GTAC). It was held in Google Tech Quarters in Mountain View. Not one to miss out on a trip, we paid for me to get over there and arranged to stay for a few days in San Francisco afterwards to make the most of the journey. Being the adventurous/alternative kind of people we ended up taking a second suitcase solely for our walking boots. I planned to hike as much as possible while the guys were at the conference. And we made use of them in San Francisco too.
I will get onto my other hikes soon, but for now we are hiking to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Walking from the Airbnb
Our Airbnb was located pretty close to the side of the Golden Gate Park meaning that we already had access to green space, however, after walking the San Francisco Bay Trail, I knew there would be extra beauty along the coast. Plus, I had read before our trip something about Baker Beach being a good place for snapping the Golden gate Bridge.
After a hearty breakfast of microwaved vegan bacon, scrambled eggs and toast, we headed our. Bags packed with goodies and our route in hand (or should that be phone!)
The benefits of jet-lag
One of the best things that we found about being in the US was the jet-lag. I know a lot of people won’t have such a positive view of it, but we absolutely loved it! We were up before the crack of dawn meaning that we got to see the sun rise, were out before the crowds and made the most of our day. It was wonderful wandering the streets with only the people heading to early shifts or returning from nights. It was incredible to see what is usually a very bustling city in the calm morning hours. And something we plan to repeat wherever we go.
Rather than trying to sleep off the lag, we got out and about adventuring and exploring. While in mountain View we got to check out Google before the tourists arrived meaning we could grab some pictures with the Droid without interruption! (geeks!)
Anyway, back to our hiking to the Golden Gate Bridge. Firstly we had to make our way to The Presidio of San Francisco.
Presidio of San Francisco
The Presidio is a National Park and former US military base. It is a vast contrast to the built up areas that you walk through to reach it and instead of buildings standing tall around you, the trees tower overhead instead. There are views of the sea, wildlife in abundance (even in November) and trails to lead you in every imaginable direction.
We discovered that we would be able to walk part of the Anza Trail down towards Baker Beach, so used it as the opportunity to enjoy the laid out trails. Strangely enough, the path led us back into civilisation. We arrived at what felt like a military housing space – the kind you see in the movies where all the families live. It was very hilly. Luckily we had our map as I think we would have turned back at this point thinking that we had become lost.
All down hill from there
Relieved that we didn’t have to walk up the concrete mountain (kind of an exaggeration!) we headed down the slope to be greeted by another mass of trees and greenery. It is amazing how an area can be so vastly different in such small distances. At least in Manchester you get houses and concrete for a long way before you hit a big area of countryside and greenery. Defined, I suppose. To be honest, though, I think I prefer the San Francisco style. Much more variety. (sorry, Manchester, I still love you too!)
Within sight was the glistening sands and rippling water, so blue and welcoming. The sand was soft beneath our shoes and very welcome after the tarmac hills we had just come down. We eagerly and curiously walked towards the sands in anticipation of seeing the famous Golden Gate Bridge.
As we neared the corner, we realised that we were somewhat further away from the bridge than we had originally thought so decided to take it slower and joy the surroundings. At which point, we discovered a bunker or some sort. (we didn’t realise that this part of the park was ex-military base at this point in our adventure, so it was an odd sighting but kind of added to our guess about the houses we passed being military)
With every step we took through the trees, the sea and beach increased in size and we just knew that the bridge would appear soon! We were so excited, both having only seen it in pictures, on TV and in Eddie Izzard Dress to Kill (It’s hilarious!) It wasn’t much longer on the trail until we spied the red colour standing out on the blue skies. Within seconds of spotting it we were snapping pictures like there was no tomorrow! (don’t worry, I’m not going to post them all here)
Cue excited peeps and a huge amount of photographing!
Baker Beach was so much quieter than we had anticipated. There were locals fishing on the shore and what seemed to be residents doing some exercise along the trails. Perfect as we do love to get off the beaten track and away from the tourist routes. This quietness meant that we could take some lovely photographs free from the clutter of people. We honestly took far too many, but you never know what you might miss. The benefit of digital over film really.
After snapping shots of every wave, every possible angle of the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoying the sand beneath our feet we decided to head back onto the trail. The trail led us back up the dunes of the beach and was to return us to the dust tracks and steps up towards Crissy Fields.
On the trail
Back on the trail we began we followed the well laid winding path back upwards and across towards the bridge. Only spotting the top over the green hills as we meandered around.
As we made our way further onto the trail we began to discover some rather odd-looking concrete blocks and structures in the distance. Imposing and certainly not part of the natural landscape. On closer inspection we realised that they were old military structures. Still not completely sure, we enjoyed the curiosity of them and continued along our way hoping to find more information on our way.
The further we went with hiking to the Golden Gate Bridge, the more the terrain went from sandy beach to craggy cliffs. Baker Beach became a distant memory on the walk and our attention turned to the winding paths and ways taking us to the destination of the iconic bridge. Which we could occasionally spot on our way around the trail.
Reaching the summit of the hill we came across another concrete structure and to our delight, our wish had been granted with an information sign. I have to say that in my experience and exploration of Mountain View and San Francisco, they are fantastic with providing you will a vast array of facts and figures on boards along the route. I guess that is one benefit of having to have laid out trails for walking, you know where people will be going and what questions they are likely to be asking.
The concrete structures we encountered earlier while hiking to the Golden Gate Bridge were in fact part of the military batteries. Starting in the 1890s the US military bought land along the San Francisco coast to construct over 35 gun batteries as a means of coastal defense. The structures all date back from that era, which was amazing!
Within a short walk from the battery, the trail turned to road and the shadow of the bridge hid directly behind it. We were drawing closer and could feel the excitement building once again (and another opportunity to snap away to record the memories of our adventure)
Before we lost sight of where we had come from we stopped to grab some last shots. It was incredible to see Baker Beach in the distance now. The Golden Gate Bridge within easy reach and an adventure along the San Francisco coast firmly added to our memories. We were pleased to have chosen an alternative route and even happier to be on our way to the iconic bridge we were looking forward to experiencing.
To the Golden Gate Bridge
The city was certainly coming to life by the time we were nearing the Golden Gate Bridge as it twinkled with the sunlight bouncing off the vehicles.
It is strangely quiet as you walk along the final stretch of the trail only to realise the rumble when you pass beneath the bridge. We found this to be quite exciting as we could hear the traffic overhead while looking closely at the structure of the bridge from underneath (cue another opportunity for us to geek out!)
This sport marked the start of the next stage of our adventure. After hiking to the Golden Gate Bridge, it was time to walk across. That is going to be another post as I don’t a) want to overwhelm you and ) contains lots of photos so I don’t want to slow down my site!
I have to say that getting up nice and early to go hiking to the Golden Gate Bridge was a highlight of the trip. We got to combine so many passions of ours into one part of our adventure and add something special to our memories too. I would certainly do it again when we next visit (yes, I said when!) and I would recommend you to do it too if you fancy something different and more energetic than bussing it there.
Not to get the other posts done for you. These funny feet, Throwback Thursday and time at the computer are doing wonders for me catching up. I hope that you’re enjoying some more of our further afield adventures as much as I am revisiting them.
On to the next one!
Have you ever been hiking to the Golden Gate Bridge? Have you visited San Francisco or the US? What did you enjoy most about it?
Share int he comments below as I’d love to know what your high lights were!
Fancy a trip to San Francisco, pin this to your travel board!