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.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I got high last night!

What were you thinking!? I meant that I went on a walk last night and got up as high as 360 feet above sea level!

I started back at work on Monday so the hills project needs to fit into my schedule. With plans to watch PLL (Pretty Little Liars) with my friend Carlyn over in Noe, I had no excuse. I went walking!

Nighttime walks are cooler, as in the weather has cool breeze to keep you from over heating while huffing it up hills.

Google maps didn't seem to know where Dolores Heights highest point was so once I got to Liberty Street I just looked around for the highest point and kept walking to it. The first photo is from where I counted the top and the following pictures are just some other shots from the journey but technically lower down. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Found another map

This one is from San Francisco Chronicle from March last year. Journalist John King did a very interesting piece on San Francisco hills called Rediscovering S.F.'s Hills. I didn't know about this until I started researching my own hill project but this guy definitely walked them and a whole lot more. He wrote up articles on different hills and what it meant about our history, our city's culture, and ultimately the character of the place. You have to be a Chronicle subscriber to read the whole thing but might be worth it...

Why you Russian?

The smell of burnt rubber can't put a damper on this view! All day, all night tourists in rental cars are rushing up Lombard to get their chance to head down the squiggly side.

I walked up Lombard from Polk into Sterling Park, where I took in the view from Russian Hill. This hill project is really making me happy. It's fun to just work them into your day or set out on with a specific intention. Today I was just in the neighborhood for band practice and thought I'd catch sunset and read George Sterling's "The Cool, Grey City of Love" written at the base of the park. I have a feeling George was a big fan of San Francisco hills too.
"Yet her sea-fog's touch is kind,  
 And her mightier caress
 Is joy and the pain thereof 
 And great is thy tenderness, 
O cool, grey city of love!"

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Doesn't count, but still worth it

I love San Francisco, but I also love me a trip.  So I took myself to Napa! I told a friend at the New Years party I went to that I was taking myself on a lady trip to Napa. His reaction, "That's so California!" Ha, he is probably right. But sometimes you just need to get out of the city and one of the benefits of the Bay Area is you don't have to go too far to find a relaxing break or maybe even some wilderness!

In addition to enjoying the usual Napa fair like delicious wine and food, I searched for recommended hikes as too not lose my hill momentum. I went with the Skyline Wilderness Park. Only 9 minutes from downtown Napa! I took the Skyline upper trail to the top of Sugar Load Mountain, and after a relatively quick, but steep walk up, I got a beautiful view of Marin and Richmond.

It was so quiet and serene, a perfect start to the new year. It's just a little over 3 miles so not bad at all. I will warn you that there were quite a few signs warning me of mountain lions, rattlesnakes, ticks, the usual Northern California wildlife scares. I survived, clearly, but my favorite would be the sign at the very beginning of the trail where California Parks reminded me that if I continue on I will be entering at my own risk muahhaha. Well I ain't scared! Plus, my dad has been giving me tips on battling mountain lions for years. Act BIG!!! And maybe pick up a couple rocks.

I took the Lower Skyline trail down for a view of Napa and then rewarded myself with a glass of B. Kosuge "The Shop" Pinot Noir. (Including the wine in this post because it was deeeeelicious.)