Hiking the Marin Headlands: Remains of the War
Right outside of San Francisco, the Marin Headlands still hides a number of wea
For once, I opted for an evening/ night hike and decided to show the place to Swedish friends of ours. They knew about the Marin Headland
We parked in front of the quaint chapel turned visitor chapel two hours before sunset. Our friends’ little girl, 5 years old, wondered what we were up to while we were putting out shoes on (I had kept it a secret). “At least we’re not going up there!” she said laughing, pointing at a hill. “Well…” I answered, “…what if we were?” At 6pm on a midsummer night, I thought it would be a blast. Three hours to hike 7 miles with 833 feet elevation sounded like a good plan with a picnic and a bottle of wine at the top to break the walk. That was without counting with (i) the flash light that’s usually in t
I knew it would take us one and half to two hours to reach the picnic spot so we started without delay. We walked down the main road from the visitor center, then went north on Bunker Road. “What are we looking for? What are the clues” asked the children. The first clue was a wooden bridge on the left. It’s the point of entry to join the Miwok Trail. Right there, the trail i
As we reached Wolf Ridge Trail, we got the golden part of the sun rays and the tough part of the hike started. Just when we thought we were alone in the world, a runner passed by us, wearing a race number on his shirt. WTH? For better or worse, the Headlands Hundred ultra marathon was taking place that day on the same trail. I learned since that these people ran 50 to 100 miles (4 different loops) over a maximum time limit of 33 hours. Basically when we were just warming up,
So we were going up, and up, and up and our junior crew started rebelling against the grade. “The top’s right there,” we kept saying, and the top took its time to come. Finally we saw a little flag (for the race) and there we were: the paved road that leads to Hill 88. On the other side the Pacific Ocean, Rodeo Beach at the bottom, Bird Island and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
We reached the army base and looked around. There’s an eerie feeling wh
Our three girls stood up motionless as the big orange disc disappeared behind the crimson horizon. We adults, while lending a distant eye, had more serious stuff to do such as: opening the box of tabouleh, cutting the bread, getting the boiled eg
However, now was now the time to linger. The night would be upon us any minute and we had to make it back to the car – in the dark. I sort of knew the way because I used to lead environmental education hikes here seven years ago – during the day, that is. At night, things do look quite different and perspectives are lost. Fortunately, the ultra marathoners were organized and had lined the trail with green glow sticks that became our path to
Should we go here or there? Should we take a shortcut or follow the main road? Each time, the ghastly green lights led us on the right path, if taking us on a longer way on occasion. One of those went through two WWII-era tunnels on the Coastal Trail that – I believe – are part of the Battery Townsley. It’s like an underground fort that in its glory days (1940) could fire a one-ton shell to a battleship 25 miles away. At night, the place is either creepy or intimidating. For the children it was scary. To motivate them to go through the tunnels (ever darker than the dark outside), we all sang The Sound of Music‘s Do-Re-Mi song. It resonated so well that with the harmonies (our Swedish friends are singers), even the Trapp family would have approved.
An hour or so later, we reached beach level and breathed a sigh of relief. Next time, promise, I’ll take a flash light or headlamps (like the runners).
However if you fancy a ranger-led full moon hike to the Point Bonita lighthouse in the Marin Headlands, follow the details here to sign up because they are extremely popular. They’re organized once a month for the full moon and the place is truly gorgeous.