Monday, February 24, 2014

Let's make it 56 hills!

After finding Hawk Hill last week I decided I wanted to make my hill list a bit more complete. My original list was based off this Wikipedia post (47 hills) and this SF Chronicle series (33 hills).

My final hill list includes 56 hills! If interested, enjoy the Terrain Map below where I've mapped all my hills out. The project is 50% complete!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Stairway to Heaven

Wow, it's already Thursday. That's awesome and frightening all at the same time. I meant to write this post like two days ago! Here it goes...

Pumped up from Sundays trek, I went out Monday to the Inner Sunset and West Portal. First, I started with the Hidden Garden Steps at 16th. Honestly, this photo was not altered. It was just the result of the sun and my iPhone 5s.

After being blinded by the sun, I made my way to my first hill, Larsen Peak at Grand View Park. This place was quite popular. Lots of local runners getting their steps in and even some youths having a city day.

Grand View Park is a good name for this spot. You can seriously see everything. Ocean, Golden Gate Park and Bridge, Downtown, and the back of Twin Peaks. Quite grand, quite grand indeed. 

From here I made my way towards Golden Gate Heights and I passed this really neat rocky outcrop, which I think is aptly named "Rocky Outcrop" and a friendly polar bear. 

Alright, not a real polar bear. But look at that thing. Pretty much to scale. When I got up close to it it looked like the same material you use to make a piƱata. I bet this polar bear can carry a lot of candy.

To get to the top of Golden Gate Heights, also known as Forest Hill, I took this sandy path.

I'm a big fan of sand and San Francisco is built on a lot of sand. And on top of this hill's sandy surface is an enchanting canopy of trees.

I had never been to this park before but I will definitely go back. I felt really calm under the trees looking out at the Pacific. And pretty sure this couple pointing at the ocean agreed with me.

After this hill I thought I might be done for the day but then I took a look at my map and noticed another hill that wasn't on my list...Hawk Hill. I was so close to it that I had to check it out. I turned on Google Maps and put my volume on high so I could hear the voice directions. I ended up on a dead end street. Seemed a bit weird but I went with it. 

I climbed over a guard railing and walked up another sandy path to a broken down fence. 

Then at some point along the broken fence Google Maps said "Take a right." As you can see from the picture, there was no where to go on the right. It was just me and an old dirty street cone. 

It was quite the adventure. A little creepy and at some point I did have a slight fear I wasn't getting off that hill and I might be eaten by hawks...but I made it home alive. I even got to take this lovely little alley way behind rich people's houses to West Portal. 

By the time I went to sleep Monday night I honestly had forgotten I had a job and that I had to go to work the next day.  So Tuesday morning I was completely puzzled by the alarm clock on my phone. Can't wait to get out for my next hills. And here is to finding more weird ones like Hawk!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Los Pechos de la Chola

It's been a few weeks since I've hit the hills. A combination of being sick, working weekends, and some much needed rain, kept me from getting up there. But this weekend I took out 7 hills, and added about 10 to my list so hopefully my lazy streak has ended.

Let's start with Kite Hill. Kite Hill is located in Eureka Valley below Twin Peaks. This one wasn't on my original list, but every time I looked at a map it was just staring at me, taunting me!

My original list was pretty extensive to start but the more I get out there, stare at maps, look at vistas, I realize that there are a lot more hills I could add. It may mean this project will take a bit longer than originally planned, but with views like's worth it, no?

From Kite Hill the only way to go was up to Twin Peaks! 

I took a lot of these to get there...

...and it was totally worth it! It was pretty much a perfect day for this trek. The skies were so blue and clear.

I made sure to walk up both peaks too. I recently learned that the Spanish conquistadors called the area "Los Pechos de la Chola" or "Breasts of the Indian Maiden." The south peak is now referred to as "Noe Peak" and the north peak is "Eureka Peak".

And then I took this selfie to prove I was there. It was basically the equivalent of pinching myself.

To finish it off, I walked down the other side towards Cole Valley and picked up Tank Hill. It's a rocky one. I assume that's why it's called "Tank". I didn't do as much research on that one. ;)

And finally finally, I went to Say Cheese and got a delicious sandwich and kalamata olives for all my good hill climbing!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

17 hills down!

Gotta love a three day weekend! With an extra day I went back out to grab me some hills after my bike ride the day before.

The weather has been crazy nice in the Bay Area. San Francisco was actually 72 degrees for 6 days in a row. I thought my weather app was broken on my phone!

But alas, no, we just are damn lucky and we can never forget that. My grandmother in Kentucky's email for the past two weeks have all been about snow and freezing weather.

So taking advantage of the time and the weather I picked up Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower, and Nob Hill.

Technically I hit Nob Hill first. I say technically because I didn't know I did until I looked at a map later. I tend to walk towards the hilliest path these days and I guess that's a good thing because that brought me to Grace Cathedral which is up on top of Nob Hill. Hooray! #accidentshappen

Along with some other great views of the St. Francis and the city at large.

Then I wandered through China town because I love the hustle and bustle of that neighborhood and it reminds me traveling in China but with less coal. And I got a snap shot of some construction. I love construction! I find it fascinating. 

Eventually I found my way to Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill. Coit Tower was closed but I tried to get as close as possible.

By the end of the day I was able to mark off 2 more hills taking me to 17 out 47 hills so far. This project isn't getting old. I really enjoy it. We live in a beautiful place and it's wonderful to enjoy it like this, plus get in plenty of miles. Check out these record breaking steps!! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Driving is cheating

My big rule with the hills project is I can't drive. Seems like cheating, right? Plus, this project was also motivated by my desire to get in shape so I climb even bigger mountains. So, here enters bicycling...

Sunday morning I pumped up my tires and rode a little over 11 miles to get to Washington Heights and Lincoln Heights (aka Legion of Honor). Bike riding uses a few different muscles so it was a good workout riding up those hills! My goal will be to work up to a good 20 mile ride so I can be strong enough for some bike camping in the spring. 

And those miles and hills are worth it. Take a look at the views! 

Washington Heights, I learned, has a high school on top of it and as usual in SF, a great view of the water and...of hills I have yet to conquer, like Lone Mountain (below).

From here I went down to Clement Street and climbed through the Presidio to the Legion of Honor where I was greeted by trees and the Golden Gate Bridge playing peekaboo.

All in all it was a great day and I even learned a few things:

1. I should bring snacks on long bike rides
2. I am excited to build up to some longer bike rides
3. I'm better at going up hills then down them on a bicycle.

Things to work on!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Woo woo (that's the sound of the fog horn)

When I haven't seen much fog and rain in San Francisco I feel weird, like something is missing from life. Maybe I'm one of the few people that gets this excited about rain, but I was like a kid jumping in my first puddle when taking on hills this weekend.

First, I suited up with some rain boots,

a newly found Spotify playlist that I've been rocking to all week,

and then I headed out to Anza Heights, the Kaiser Pharmacy (not a hill), Pacific Heights, and Lafayette Park before heading to band practice on Polk Street.

The view from the hills in foggy, rain weather is kind of spooky and cool.

 You couldn't see the usual Alamo Square or The Rock (aka Alcatraz) views from Pac Heights.

 And all the eucalypti, grasses, and flowers look extra bright.

It was for sure damp and a little cold, like the kind of temperature where you can't get your layers just right. And I certainly had a hard time keeping my glasses from fogging up, as seen in this selfie mistake. But it all felt a little more magical.

And to top it off, I got to enjoy this guy singing and dancing by himself.  I kind of wanted to join him but thought I'd better not call attention to him. I think he enjoyed the feeling of being the only one out there.

That might be the best part about being out in the rain. The city suddenly feels vacant, and dancing and singing on top of a hill seems like the best idea ever.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Still hunting for better maps...

This morning over coffee I am taking notes. One thing I've learned is you can't just walk out the door all willy nilly! These hills are all connected so some prep work is key. Check out how Golden Gate Heights, Forest Hill, Edgehill and Mt. Davidson are all on the same range. Pretty neat!

I've also realized no one seems to agree on what hills are what and which are legit so I am making executive decisions and at the end of this project I'll have to publish the official Mary Hills of SF List! You're welcome world.