We're going to do something today that I've never done before--walk to the top of Twin Peaks. Until today, I wasn't even sure how to do that, but I found these most excellent directions posted on the Internet by a man named Bill Choisser:
"Twin Peaks is the highest point in San Francisco with a view. Tall buildings with rooftop view areas have never really caught on in San Francisco, because Twin Peaks is much higher, and the view is much better! Twin Peaks is free, but you have to get there. If you have the time, one of the most enjoyable ways is to walk. If you follow roads the route is very long, but it is much shorter following stairways..."Indeed! Choisser's stairway knowledge is key for this journey. Without it, I would have no hope. Walking back and forth up miles of switchbacks and terraced streets? I enjoy a long walk, but come on. Also, there are so many stairways--who knows how they all fit together. See how vital that little piece of the puzzle is from this excerpt:
"At the top of Hopkins Street you will see a stairway but don't take that one. Look off to your left, down Burnett Street and spot a stairway at the bend. Take that one."Ah, the stairway at the bend. But of course!
We start here in Bernal Heights by waiting for the 24-Divisadero bus to take us to Market and Castro. Once upon a time, I considered this to be San Francisco's most unreliable bus line. You could spend an hour waiting for a 24 in your direction while five went by in the other direction. I tend to drive more now, so I don't really know what the buses are like. Today, I only waited 15 minutes.
The 24 is also what I like to call "an odyssey line", meaning that if you take it from one end to another you will pass through some very different San Francisco communities and geography. After leaving Bernal Heights, the 24 skirts the Mission, passes through yuppie Noe Valley, descends into the gay Castro, crosses Market Street, cuts between the upper and lower Haight-Ashbury, continues north through the African-American Western Addition, crosses Geary, and finally rises up in to San Francisco's wealthiest enclave, Pacific Heights, where it turns around and does it all over again in the other direction. For an even better odyssey, I suggest the 22 Filmore.
The drive through Noe Valley Valley has a lot of hills. If you're intimidated by the thought of driving a car on San Francisco's hills, imagine driving a bus. I tried to take still photographs from the bus, but I should have taken movies. D'oh!
I drive these hills all the time, riding them in a bus is always a bit of a thrill for me. For everyone else, it's just another bus ride.
We pass several Chinese businesses and I can see they're getting excited about the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration.
Say Gung hei fat choi, "which loosely translates [as] 'Congratulations and be prosperous'. Often mistakenly assumed to be synonymous with 'Happy new year', its usage dates back several centuries.. The saying is now commonly heard in English-speaking communities for greetings during Chinese New Year in parts of the world where there is a sizable Chinese-speaking community..." Link.
It's a short ride to the Castro.
The Castro Theatre is a city landmark.
A film noir festival is currently underway.
Usually, the Castro is an art house theater.
Milk played for here for several days and it was quite the to-do. I'm sorry I missed it, but I see there's a return engagement beginning on Feb-15, so that's excellent. San Franciscans love to see their city in the movies, and it's fun to see a San Francisco movie in San Francisco. The audience cheers and goes nuts.
My other favorite place in the Castro is Cliff's Variety.
Equal parts hardware and home furnishings, Cliff's has it all. For example, this is where you can get a ceiling fixture molding to restore your old Victorian.
And pick up Auto Bingo cards.
Bernal Heights doesn't have a board like this and I think that's a shame.
If I need gay hypnotherapy, I have to come all the way down here to get the number.
On the other hand, if I need to come together and create a vibrant, healthy body and mind, that's something I can do in Bernal Heights.
If you're going to get hair extensions, maybe you don't want it to be fast and cheap.
Okay, moving on...
The Patio was a storied neighborhood institution for years. It's been closed for a long time, but the sign's back on and there's work going on inside. Very exciting.
This mosaic is on the side of a school.
Houses in this neighborhood tend to be especially cute.
And over-the-top, whenever possible.
There is my first stairway. As I begin to climb it, I'm thinking this day has a certain air of following the yellow brick road.
It's a doozy.
The people who live here have their front door off the side of these stairs.
Farther along, my destination comes in sight.
And looking back, the view is starts to come into scope.
I've driven under this pedestrian bridge over Market Street hundreds of times. I'm finally going to walk on it.
The view from the pedestrian bridge lines up with Bernal Hill.
Onward and upward....
It's very quiet up here, near the top.
The view gets bigger. Another view of Bernal Hill in the distance.
I like the shape of this tree.
More stairs. First I did this set:
And then I climbed these...
and then I sat down!
)Pant, pant, pant...!(
These are my new shoes.
We're almost there. I just have to climb that mountain. The plant life is mostly Baccharis pilularis and different kinds of Artemisia.
One of the streets up here is named Grandview. Indeed.
I've made it to the perimeter road. The southern peak is on my left and those are my last stairs...
And now I'm on top of the southern peak--mission accomplished!
In the distance, Mount Diablo (3849 feet).
The Farallon National Wildlife Refuge is 25 miles away. Another 25 miles beyond those islands, the continental shelf drops off 10,000 feet to the floor of the Pacific Ocean.
The clouds are doing some interesting things with the light.
I want to explore the other peak.
The landscape doesn't change much. I like to zoom in on the city below.
And... that's it! We're done up here. I was going to take us home through Noe Valley, but I've decided to do that in a different post.
Special thanks to Bill Choisser for an excellent morning/afternoon.