Sunday, 5 April 2009:
A couple of weeks ago, finding myself flying solo due to Sarah being in a metalsmithing class, I decided to head north to Marin Headlands and wander around some of the parts I hadn’t been to in some time.
After a pretty drive across the Golden Gate, up Hawk Hill, and the dizzying descent toward Point Bonita, where it feels like you’re about to drive off the edge of the Earth, I parked at a turnout by some of the many abandoned military buildings dotting the hills here.
It was a beautiful day, clear and calm, with the hills flocked in the ultra-green that marks springtime in coastal California.
I find the concrete ruins of coastal gun batteries endlessly interesting, and wandered around, pondering the bygone time when our coastline fairly bristled with probably hundreds of large guns, all trained out toward see to keep out enemies real and imagined.
Gun mount and view northwest
Gun mount and view east
Some of the mounts obviously housed large weapons, the above I’m guessing were 16″ or larger.
The paths and road winding around the batteries feature lovely views north to Rodeo Beach and Muir Beach beyond it, with a rocky coast to the west, Rodeo Lagoon to the East, and San Francisco to the south.
Rodeo Beach and Rodeo Lagoon
Few birds were about, primarily the usual Turkey Vulture and Common Ravens with a scattering of White-crowned Sparrows.
Common Raven / Corvus corax
The north end of the knoll features nice views of Fort Cronkhite, Rodeo lagoon, and beyond. I turned around here, as the only other option is to hike down to the beach, which I was planning on looping around from a different trailhead.
There were flowers a’plenty here, Bermuda Buttercup, California Poppy, Baby Blue Eyes, Lupine, Iceplant, Scarlet Pimpernel, Wild Radish, and ….
Broadleaf Filaree / Erodium botrys
… Broadleaf Filaree. This last, a member of the geranium family, is also kown as “Storkbills.” If you look at the shape of the seedheads to the right of the flower above, you can see why.
On my way back, I moseyed through the ruins of Battery O’Rourke:
View east from Battery O’Rorke
A nearby sign said:
Construction of Battery O’Rorke was begun in 1902 and completed in 1905. The fortification was named for Patrick Henry O’Rorke, who had become a colonel at the age of 27. He was killed in action at the Battle of Gettysburg in 183.
During both World Wars, this battery housed 4 guns with 3″ diameter rifled barrels. Each weapon could fire shells weighing 15 pounds a distance of almost 5 miles. These small guns were important because they could be loaded and fired more rapidly than larger weapons. They were located here to prevent enemy landings on Rodeo Beach.
Battery O’Rorke was abandoned and its guns scrapped in 1946.
I don’t know this shrub – anyone?
Zoomed-out view of the same shrub as above
A puffy white flowering bush caught my eye throughout my stroll. I thought it was chamise, but upon checking at home, it is not. If anyone knows what it is, please comment!
Turkey Vulture / Cathartes aura
Vultures continued to circle overhead, providing for a couple of reasonably good photos, and little else continued to be seen, although a loud “Cheek!” announced that a California Towhee was somewhere nearby.
Another unknown bloom, this one from a tree, but not the California Bay I thought it was
As I walked back toward where I’d parked I saw another unfamiliar bloom. From the leaves I judged it to be a California Bay tree, but yet again upon looking it up at home, it’s not that. Given that this was an active military base with many humans around, it’s not a given that it’s a native tree.
Back at the car I drove a quarter mile further west, past another large former bunker that I will have to check out at a later date, and parked at the end of the road.
Iceplant / Carpobrotus edulis (non-native)
Shore- and sea-birds are sometimes visible from this high vantage point, but not today. I contented myself with enjoying the clear blue skies and pretty views of the Marin Headlands area in all directions.
Point Bonita Lighthouse
After taking in my fill, I drove down to the Marin Headlands Visitor’s Center to walk around Rodeo Lagoon. Since this has become a long post already, and I have many photos from the later walk, I will continue in a separate post in a few days.