This is the final part of our Golden Gate Coastal Walk. From the Labyrinth at Land’s End, we climb up more than 100 steps to get back onto the path. Our next stop is Baker Beach. I guess we could have scrambled up the side we dropped down from. It’s a longer way up from the bottom to the top, so we take the stairs.
Memorial for Peace
A few sights can be reached by following the side trails from this point. The Legion of Honor Museum, The Holocaust Memorial and the Memorial for Peace are just moments away, but the day is getting on and we pass by them, only seeing the Peace Memorial.
The inscription on the stone reads;
We are grateful as we stand facing this monument, for the infinite gifts of heaven and earth. We recognise once again the true fundamental of the human soul that pursues the truth, implements the good, creates beauty, and renews his will to step forward this way brings about peace in mind and on earth by mutual understanding, encouragement and help. It was in this spirit that this monument was built. April 1, 1984 in recognition of the continued quest for world peace by all people.
I can resonate with that.
I wish we had time to linger at these places. Time to go and see Rodin’s sculpture, ‘The Thinker’ and his other works in the museum. But we have a list of things we want to pack into these short days. We will miss the free entry to the botanical gardens if we stay any longer. Rainy days are for museums, I tell myself.
(To be fair, I did not know Rodin’s culpture was there until I got home and looked over our route. It would have been on my list if I had known. Pictures of the Holocaust Memorial are amazing. I would have liked to get a feel of the place so I could report back to you … next time.)
Seeking more natural beauty and knowing a storm is coming, we continue to make the most of the weather. Next we follow the trail through lush foliage before the scene opens on to Eagle’s Point for more stunning views. I wonder why, of all the beautiful places, this bridge is the iconic image that depicts San Franscisco?
El Camino Del Mar
The path continues and takes us on an urban hike through the neighborhood of El Camino Del Mar. These are some real fancy houses. Many of them have Tesla Cars, Ferraris and Porsches sitting outside them.
We have walked into another world.
One where you do not see much of the residents, only workers. Gardeners, builders and, through one window, a chef preparing lunch. My mind starts singing Fresh Prince of Bel Air, trying to make El Camino Del Mar fit the tune in my own little parody.
Have we taken a wrong turn to find such opulence on our coastal walk? We walk on pristine paving, not a dropped leaf in sight. In the end we find a sign directing us down 25th Street to the beach and realise we are still on the right track.
This is supposed to be one of the best places for Golden Gate Bridge photos. So we take a few ‘grey day’ pictures and then enjoy the beach.
There are men sea fishing, a man feeding the crows, an exhuberent dog running in the water, a couple having a picnic, a tour bus full of drunk people and a driftwood electric guitar.
A rocky outcrop at the end of the beach looks like a great place to get close to the ocean, so I climb up, asking Max if he can take a few pictures. I go right to the edge, checking it’s safe. The sea sprays up as the water hits the rocks below.
The Freaking Pacific, again!
Now, the last time I visited the Pacific ocean in 2017, I took off my shoes and stepped in the water. I opened up to the vastness of this great titan being and I did not notice it coming up to meet me. A wave twice my height had come rushing towards me. From the beach, Max shouted to me to run! I had to run fast through the water to avoid being consumed by the huge wave.
This time there is no danger of being swept away. Then, just as I turn to come back down onto the beach, a wave throws itself right up over my back and slaps me on the back of the head. It feels like a sharp slap too!
Maybe it’s just a friendly slap, but it hits me right in the neck. I had a tension headache in this spot all morning and the slap totally clears it.
I look round to Max, totally shocked and soaked by the ocean and he is facing the other way. There is only one witness, a man walking up the beach laughing. We share a laugh and go on our way.
Right at the back of the beach near the steps, there is a hirsute man sunbathing. Max thinks he is naked. I can’t see from this angle and I don’t want to stare. We don’t get a good look until we are up above. Yes, he is completely starkers!
(When I get home I ask the internet. “Is Baker Beach a nudist beach?” It answers, “The northern section of Baker Beach is ‘frequented by clothing-optional sunbathers,’ and as such it is considered a nude beach.”)
It is worth noting that large waves, undertows and rip currents make Baker Beach unsafe for swimming.
From Baker Beach you can climb a huge sand ladder up to the trail. Our legs are really feeling the strain, so we take an easier route up around the batteries.
The concrete batteries are shelters and fortifications for huge guns that would have been pointed at the sea to shoot at invaders and immigrants in times past. There are so many of them along this part of the Coast around Fort Scot in the Presidio. I find it quite disturbing, Max however found it fascinating and wants to go back and explore some more.
This has been a longer walk than we had anticipated, at a guess I would say 8 miles or so. In addition, the hills and staircases are quite an effort. A worthwhile effort for an incredible walk exploring the wild edges of San Francisco.
The temptation on this side of Golden Gate Bridge is to cross over and explore the landscape on the other side. There is Marin Headland, Muir Woods and so much more wild and divine nature to explore.
Our time here is short and we make a promise to stay longer to include this in our adventure next year.
Finally, we walk right up to Golden Gate bridge and find out where to get the bus back to Golden Gate Park using a map on Max’s phone. The number 28 takes us right to Fulton and Park Presidio Boulevard.
I hope we are in time to get to the Botanical Gardens.