Friday, July 13, 2018

San Francisco Peak Experience

We really enjoy Terraloco navigation races in the Bay Area, lots of fun exploring parts of town we've never seen.  Rex does a raffle after every race and I recently won a free map.  There were plenty of choices for previous race maps, so I picked the biggest baddest looking one - the Peak Experience 3 hour/6 hour rogaine from 2013.

I used the map as a training day recently, taking BART into San Francisco and starting from the Embarcadero stop.  I made a slight detour to Pier 39 (no sea lions, bummer) and the thought of Boudin SF for breakfast but I wasn't excited about their breakfast menu (not the same as other locations) so that ended up being a waste of time.  No worries, I've got plenty more stops planned.

This was not a race pace kind of day, that's for sure.  I wasn't limited to 6 hours, just limited in daylight.

Time to start climbing.  Obviously Coit Tower must be a part of any hilly run in San Francisco:

Chris Columbus at Coit Tower:

View of my next hill - as I realized that many times I'll be able to see the next/previous locations from the top of the current one:

On Russian Hill (named back in Gold Rush days), looking back at Coit Tower.  Surprisingly, I lost sight of Coit Tower early on and couldn't pick it out from later hilltops.

A sight to get used to...

One of the easier climbs, over to Nob Hill:

And down the other side, on my way to Philz for coffee (love Philz coffee!) and a delicious pumpkin chocolate chip loaf that was probably not the best choice (way too much sugar) but it sure tasted good.  I wouldn't be hungry again for quite some time after that.

Hayes Hill has great views of the Painted Ladies and a bunch of tourists taking in the scene (and the lighting would be a lot better later in the day compared to morning sunlight):

I can sort of see my next destination to the north:

All the while I'm watching Sutro Tower and thinking about having to climb up there in a few hours...

Fun "creek" landscaping at Lone Mountain:

The checkpoint question related to the plaque on the bell tower, but construction prevented easy access to it - a few things have changed at the 22 checkpoint locations since 2013, but at least this one seems temporary:

Wonderful wolf statue at the library on Ignatius Heights:

Another "of course you have to go there" location - Strawberry Hill in Golden Gate Park, with the lovely lagoon around it:

An excellent path going up:

Dr Seussian plants:

Going back through the park I heard piano music - the botanic gardens had 12 pianos in various locations with artists playing sets throughout the day.  How wonderful!  Dad would have loved this.

Buena Vista Park was totally worth the climb up, popping out at a quiet patch of grass where people came to find a serene place to hang out in the middle of the city.  Lovely.

On the way down I caught a glimpse of the next hill across the way - such a stark difference, it made me laugh:

Hey!!  It's the Bay Area Ridge Trail, I did not expect to see BART signs through San Francisco.  Of course, it makes sense that they routed that trail over some of the same peaks I was exploring today.

Looking back at the hidden calm in the trees of Buena Vista Park:

Are we still in the city?  Seems more like a desert.

Oh right, there's the city:

Down the other side, I think I found Castro Street:

Small detour for lunch, only a slight improvement (healthy-wise) over breakfast:

Better keep burning calories... good thing I have lots of climbing still to go.  This one is called Mount Olympus, pretty funny:

I'm not certain but I might have snapped a picture of one of the final peaks of the day (Bernal Hill):

These BART signs through the city just tickle me - I really need to look up the BART path through here:

An accidental picture I took while trying to fish the camera out of the front pocket of my vest...

This way for the Bay Area Ridge Trail  -->

The Mount Sutro tower looms ever larger - and closer - but first, a climb up to the bare knob in the left half of this picture:

Well that wasn't so bad.  It's nice climbing these things in pieces.  View from Tank Hill back to Mount Olympus:

Golden Gate Park is visible if you know where to look, plus that might be Mount Tam in the distance (not part of this particular challenge):

The top of Mount Sutro was a bit anticlimactic.  No tower (it's actually on a hump between here and Twin Peaks), no view, but at least it was a nice climb up to 900 feet of elevation:

Spotted another BART sign, I'm sure this isn't super interesting to anyone but me:

And finally - the Sutro Tower!  Not a checkpoint peak, but a most definite landmark and worthy of a selfie:

Over to the popular set of Twin Peaks, of which there are 3, so I guess one is a younger brother.  It was quite windy, hang onto your hats.  I didn't mind the wind, it helped keep me cool.  I just needed to be careful with the large map sail I was carrying and try to remember to unfold it to look at the checkpoint question BEFORE I climbed high enough for things to get breezy.

Fun trail across from one peak to the next:

Getting a good workout on stairs today:

The less popular south peak, with Mount Davidson in the background:

And a glance over to Sunset Heights.  I was quite happy not to be racing or under a 6-hour constraint where I'd have to run fast and decide whether to visit the far checkpoints.

I think this was the last BART sign of the day for me:


A beautiful entrance to the next set of stairs:

I never ceases to amaze me the kinds of views some people have from their windows in San Francisco.  I'm going to guess it costs a lot to live in Sunset Heights.

Looking at the highpoint of the day, Mount Davidson (925 ft) and my next destination:

Photo for Kip - he likes finding (and crossing) pedestrian overpasses:

After a small maze of narrow trails, I located the top of Mount Davidson.  Apparently there's a giant cross up here, quite visible once you arrive, but the tall trees growing around it keep the shape from being obvious at a distance.  Nice place to sit for a minute.

The other end of the ridge opens up to a view, and it is becoming clear that despite all the hills I'm going up and down today, there are still many others!

A bit of a trek to the next one, some extra unintended climbing, crossing I-280.  I looked over to see a large pedestrian bridge parallel to the street I was on, hey I would have loved to take that instead!  It was then that I noticed the highway pedestrian bridges manually added onto the map.  Except that one wasn't marked.  It should be, it's pretty cool.

A quick stop at a market for a drink, then it was on up to the next peak.  Visitacion Knob took a bit of actual navigation to locate, and although it's not an obvious spot I think I was in the right place:

Heading east, finding this amazing bike/walking path that encompasses the whole half of the divided street (Mansell St), very nice:

Another long-ish trek which made another market stop seem reasonable.  I found some salted almonds at the Valero and they were just what I wanted at the time.  The lady at the checkout was super friendly too.

Going up Bay View Hill, I think I expected something totally different like some of the developed bayside parks I'd previously found to the south of here.  Nope, just an old road climbing into the trees:

A nice view to the north from the road ringing the top:

I found the actual peak, with a tiny overgrown trail leading upwards.  I had been humming "Save Me, San Francisco" on the way up the road, so when I ran into poison oak encroachment it was obviously time for the line "I've been high, I've been low, I've been yes, and I've been oh hell no!"

(I've been rock 'n roll and disco, Won't you save me San Francisco?)

Patrick is going all over the place, in and out of the city and round in circles, and I'd hate to try to retrace his steps in this video but it's fun to watch:

Cool, now I can play that song in my brain some more today.  Love it.  Thank you Train!

So anyway, I took a picture of the top but didn't actually go all the way up there.  I suppose I don't get credit for it; I'm OK with that:

I believe that's my next destination in the distance - these last few are spread out quite a bit.  I was aiming for ~1 hour between each of them, which should get me to the Trader Joe's near the end of the circuit before they close.  That, after all, was the real goal of the day.

Bayshore Boulevard along the 101 worked out better than expected (good sidewalk) and soon I was back to steep streets and then a trail up to Bernal Hill (with Mount Sutro in the background):

A lovely place to sit and admire the city:

I bopped down the other side and made a quick visit to the southern end of the Mission District.  One more Philz visit, this time for a much-easier-to-digest croissant along with an iced version of the decaf.  Yum.

Now that I knew what I was looking for, I aimed for pedestrian bridges to get over the 101 and back:

It's amazing how much a street can climb in such a short distance, this time up to Potrero Hill:

And back down and over the 101:

It's fun watching cars zoom underneath:

Hey, it's Bernal Hill again:

Running past the original start/finish of the 2013 race (because it seems like I should include it as part of the course):

The real destination of the day - I also had a tuna wrap but the chocolate baton makes a better photo.  Thank you TJ's!

There was one more little climb at the end (Rincon Hill) but I think I prefer to finish this report with the above photo.

Fun day full of hills and good food!  I definitely took my time, no record setting run here.  Thank you Rex for offering this map so I could explore such a neat race course 5 years later!

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