The great thing about working in California is the opportunity to see some of the greatest natural treasures our country offers and have the air-fare covered by the company. Over the years my work has taken me to all 50 U.S. states and most of the Canadian provinces. Looking back on things, I’d say that California is one of the most fascinating spots around. It’s easy to get to. The cities offer the best of everything available. The food is amazing. The weather is very agreeable in almost every season – maybe a bit dry for my taste. And, California is full of postcard-like panoramas that amaze the eye.
On this recent trip, I found myself in the Bay area visiting a construction project. The site was adjacent to the Sunol wilderness park just south-east of Oakland Ca. It’s a beautiful semi-arid area where sun drenched ridges are outlined by canyons filled with sycamores, cottonwoods and oaks. I was lucky enough to be working just a mile or so from one of the main trail-heads and was able to hike every day after work. Here you can barely see the Calaveras Dam project – a bay area water department project – at the upper right side of the frame.
I had to wait until Saturday to leave anyway, so I booked the Saturday night red-eye home and enjoyed a Friday evening & Saturday in another part of the Bay Area. Since my flight departed San Francisco, I decided to head west to the coast to enjoy my last day breathing the cool salt air. I found a great B&B at the base of Tamalpais Mountain. Tamalpais Mt. rises out of the San Francisco Bay just north and west of downtown, across the Golden Gate bridge and a few miles up the 101 in Marin County. The B&B was situated on the eastern flank of Tamalpais Mt. looking down towards the bay. From the deck out side my room I could see the lights of the Sausalito harbor and those of downtown San Francisco beyond. Wow!
I arrived at the B&B at about 4:30 pm on Friday, dropped my gear and headed straight up Tamalpais Mountain. Rising through a beautiful coastal redwood forest, the steep trail offers stunning views of the bay and it’s environs. This afternoon was “picture” perfect and the views stretched for miles to the east bay and beyond. San Francisco is at the center right of the frame and you can even see Alcatraz & the Bay Bridge!
This shot was from the top of the mountain, which you can see outlined in the foreground shadow. This is no tiny mountain with about 2500 feet of elevation gain and a 10 mile round trip from the B&B. The workout was hard but for a view like this, was well worth it. Here, you can even make out Mt. Diablo – 45 clicks east of downtown San Francisco. This kind of visibility is something that you don’t get every day!
Looking south, this picture widens out to grab a view from the Pacific ocean all the way over to the east bay. Expand the picture (click it twice) and find the red top of one of the Golden Gate Bridge’s pylon towers. This tower marks the point where the Pacific Ocean transitions eastward into the bay. This shot begins to give you a real sense of the incredible view from the top of the mountain. This is only one slice of the 360 degree unobstructed view from up there!
At sunset, the bay shows off her colors as the lights of San Francisco begin to come to life. It was time to head back and get some dinner.
The next day, I headed out for another long hike a few miles north in the Pt. Reyes National Park. From the Bear Valley visitors center I hiked up through a gorgeous coastal redwood forest to Mt. Whittenberg and enjoyed the now hazy west view of the Pt. Reyes coast line & the Pacific ocean. Unfortunately, north winds had brought in dense smoke from the fires in northern California and visibility was terrible. So, no photos. The views went from incredible to terrible overnight as the winds changed. I rested on top for an hour and then began my journey back to the airport to board the red-eye home.
Make sure you put Tamalpais State Park and Pt. Reyes NP on your list. By the way, you can drive your car most of the way up Tamalpais Mt. so you don’t have to hike the whole thing. I’ve visited the Bay Area a couple of dozen times over the years and have been absolutely fascinated each time. This is my kind of paid vacation!