Presidio Trails with Michael – 8 June 2015

The Spanish established many presidios around the world in their quest for empire. The Presidio of San Francisco, one of these, came to life on the sand dunes of the San Francisco Bay. Started along with this military presence was Mission Dolores founded by Father Francisco Palou, a companion of Father Junipero Serra, and Lt. Jose Joaquin Moraga both members of the de Anza Expedition. The Presidio was put in place to protect the entrance to Yerba Buena (San Francisco Bay) and the Mission was “charged with bringing Spanish settlers to Alta (Upper) California and evangelizing the local natives, the Ohlone.”ís

We came across some special murals in a chapel next to the National Cemetery which reminded us of the ones we’d seen at Coit Tower. Rod checks out one of the art works celebrating the original Ohlone and Costanoan people who lived here at least as early as A.D. 740 along with the arriving Spanish military and a missionary padre of the 1770s.

Were are walking by some of the oldest wood-frame buildings on the Presidio refurbished and some, like this one, ready for occupancy. The Presidio is a unique National Park not to be ultimately supported by any tax dollars but rather must according to the Congressional mandate become a self-supporting enterprise. Directed by the Presidio Trust “In 2013, it reached a crucial milestone by becoming financially self-sufficient.”

Restoration of an “ancient stream ecosystem” at “YMCA Reach of the Presidio’s Tennessee Hollow watershed” with ”planting of native San Francisco grassland, bushes and riparian habitat.”

Michael plucks a poison hemlock stalk – an exotic, member of the carrot family growing in profusion in our hiking areas. It was brought to the United States as a garden plant sometime in the 1800s and has spread throughout the western hemisphere and beyond.
Most famous, perhaps, for ending Socrates life it poses a major danger to many foraging animals as well as humans. Michael mentioned that he’d read a fascinating book on Socrates and pointed out that Socrates had chosen to take the hemlock rather than go into exile, a fate worse than death?

Michael walks the line, that is Andy Goldsworthy’s “Wood Line” with maybe just a dash of Johnny Cash. Andy Goldsworthy has a special and continuing relationship with the Presidio returning year after year to create other unique sculptures.

El Polin Spring area has been the focus of much rehabilitation work by many volunteers. This is a well researched article from BAY NATURE in 2007, much work has been done on the area since.

Larry mentioned that this was where a remarkable feminist pioneer San Franciscan, Juana Briones, lived and worked. The section later on in this piece entitled, “A Woman Ahead of Her Time” tells her amazing story.

A number of summer camps were going on as we passed by on these trails, here pre-schoolers are enjoying some nature-made play equipment. Note the sand of the original dunes still underpinning the area.

Michael ponders a question – “And, as in uffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, came whiffling through the tulgey wood, and burbled as it came!”

Nancy checks out some narrow leaf plantain. While Michael talked about this ubiquitous plant, he showed us how to make the tops into missiles for a small aerial bombardments. This just for your back pocket since I haven’t tried it and can’t vouch for it:

Rare Presidio Clarkia (Clarkia franciscana) as the following description relates, “found on serpentine bluffs and serpentine grasslands in open sunlit areas” – exactly where Michael spotted these. He mentioned that they are popularly called “Farewell to Spring” or for those more sanguine “Summer’s Darling”.

We’re approaching another of Andy Goldsworthy’s sculptures, this one is SPIRE.
The video of the construction process is a lot more involved than I had thought – fascinating.

Taking a break on the logs not needed

Michael mentioned that the identification of the Alcatraz (Island of the Pelicans) had not always been attached to this island in the Bay. Juan Manuel de Ayala named one of three islands “La Isla de lose Alcatraces”. Armando mentioned on an earlier hike that originally it had been Yerba Buena Island further in the Bay. Perhaps mapmakers made the move but now and probably forever, THE ROCK in the middle of San Francisco will always be Alcatraz.

Hoping this is the MARTHA which will be taking part in the famous Transpacific Race from Long Beach to Hawaii – built just 108 years ago on San Francisco Bay.


Lunch amid the Eucalyptus, a quiet spot overlooking the San Francisco National Cemetery.

Fog begins to tongue into the Gate.

As the fog rolls in, the fog horns on the Golden Gate Bridge add their music to the scene. I included these links in an earlier hike-log but they continue to be part of our soundscape and added some especially timely “music” to our view on Monday.

The back of the soldier’s gravestones honors their wives.

Archibald MacLeish poem, “The Young Dead Soldiers” inscribed on the stones of a memorial walk. It is also used in the new memorial sculpture downtown in the garden between the Opera House and the Veteran’s Building. “After WW 2, MacLeish became the first American member of the governing body of UNESCO, and chaired the first UNESCO conference in Paris.”

Incoming shipping with Angel Island as the backdrop to a crowd of witnesses – that it would be Isle of the Angels across the way seems full circle.

Some people enjoy following the “shipping news”: Here’s a site rich with information and great vintage photos collected at the time of the re-opening last October.

On the wall in Moraga Hall, a “freeze-frame” from the 40s or 50s. I need to check on the uniforms. It forms a succinct contrast to the guys in cowboy hats at the bar during a celebration of Frontier Night – one of the photos in the previous link.

Approaching the Officer’s Club across a lawn that is doing its part during the drought. This is a new, commencing dig at the top of the parade ground near the Officer’s Club.

Even though the Officer’s Club is closed on Monday, we’re able to enter a patio area of the new Arguello Restaurant. And there we find the latest sculpture by our frequent “companion”, Andy Goldsworthy.

Earth Wall was completed in 2014.
Last year on a Presidio hike with Michael we visited Goldsworthy’s “Tree Fall”:

Rolling out the red carpet at one of the many organizations that call the Presidio home, “Futures Without Violence”: This includes the Ted Talk by the founder, Esta Soler.
We may be familiar with Lucas Film at the Presidio or The Disney Family Museum but there are many more organizations and businesses that call the Presidio home.{7349EE11-5810-4D96-AA86-AF72F5318E9F}&FilterClear=1

Wrapping up on the veranda of the Inn at the Presidio, Harriet and Kit rock on.

P.S. Many thanks to Carol and Harriet who worked hard on the logistics of this hike, what a team!

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