Today, we were going to Isla de los Los Angeles, or Angel Island as it is called these days.
Angel Island used to be the "Ellis Island of the West" where immigrants from the Pacific were housed and processed. The island also had other uses like housing several garrisons of soldiers, a prisoner of war camp during WWII and a setting for an anti missile battery during the Cold War. These days, Angel Island is a California State Park.
Angel Island is also a less than 20 minutes ferry ride from Tiburon Wharf.
First ferry departure for the day was 10am meaning a relaxing start for the day. We dressed up in hiking gear and packed sandwiches for lunch, snacks and water to grab bus 219 down to the wharf.
Yes, the "rust bucket" behind Di is the Angel Island ferry for the day.
All onboard, let's get cracking.
These signs were all over Angel Island, one for hikers and one for bikers. Yes, we would agree with the natural history / cultural history split. Angel Island had both.
The ferry docked at Ayala Cove on Angel Island, which looked like a little settlement. As we got off the ferry we saw a group of kids dressed in civil war outfits and we worked out later that there are quite a few camps on the island but the groups were not headed our way.
Our way was an initial set of stairs and we let a group of kids go past huffing and puffing (they all looked fit enough but they still panted...)
So, up the hill we hiked, onto something called North Ridge Trail. Basically, there are two destinations or routes on the island, to the top and around the perimeter. We did both, starting with a hike to the top and finishing with an anti clockwise loop. This was how it panned out - 17 kms in total.
And to put Angel Island into perspective in relation to Tiburon and Sausalito. San Francisco is south / southeast.
A couple of trail shots...
There were a lot of switch backs up which extended the length of walking but made it a lot easier to climb the 250 metre altitude than if it would have gone straighter up.
The views only got better and better as we came closer to the top. This is looking north with Richmond San Rafael Bridge in the distance and the southeast corner of the Tiburon peninsula.
Top of the world...
We reached the top of Mount Livermore (781 feet) and rewarded ourselves with a cup of tea and our favourite chocolate chip biscuits (Chip Ahoy) in its little picnic area. On a side note...it's funny how returning to the U.S. after 1 year some food items just leapt back into the grocery shopping basket...
Our picnic table was shared with a couple from Cape Cod who very civilized had brought a bottle of red wine with them to the top from which they poured themselves a glass each. Respect.
We chatted a while and they gave us a tip of a walk for another day. They come to San Fran every year, and have done so for the last 25 years, but they still didn't know the name of the big black raptors we saw regularly in the skies.
Downtown San Francisco and Alcatraz from a higher viewpoint. You can see everything from the top of Angel Island.
Daggy but we just had to do a selfie with Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Sorry.
Belvedere Island and Tiburon from the top of Mount Livermore.
Next, we partly backtracked down and then took a different route down, on the Sunset Trail, to Perimeter Road which unsurprisingly circles Angel Island.
Well, there were some vehicles on the island other than bikes and the open air shuttle buses. A crowd of punters on Segways. Well, why not?
This piece of tree stump reminded Hans of the artwork "The Scream" by Edvard Munch.
These trees brought tears to our eyes. Gum trees. Eucalyptus trees. Lots of them. Di became a temporary tree hugger.
We had our sandwich picnic lunch at Camp Reynolds next to this lovely old building. It was built back in 1904 and used to be a hospital to treat ill or injured soldiers.
And these big black birds that we had seen regularly ...Very graceful fliers and clearly a raptor of some sort. Back home we googled them and found out that they are turkey vultures and are quite common in the Americas. Apparently they are unusual in that they not only hunt via sight but also via smell.
Suddenly there was a sign with distances in kilometer that came before distance in miles. Up until this point it had been miles only but now we were at the furthest point from Ayala Cove and maybe only Europeans and Australians walk this far...Di seemed to like that.
A lot of Angel Island along the Perimeter Road looked like this. Pretty barren and dry - not helped by the fact that California is officially in drought.
Then we came to a cleared area with a dilapidated fence around it. This sign explained what was once there - missiles! Nothing remained of that today though.
The area that once housed the East Garrison on Angel Island had plenty of old buildings. While a few buildings had been restored and seemed to house island employees, most of them were unfortunately in various degree of disrepair. You could see that many of these buildings could be absolutely stunningly brought back to their former glory.
In particular we loved this building, an old hospital. All doors and windows were gone but you could enter and have a look inside.
All stairs to the upper levels had been taken out, presumably to prevent accidents.
The many narrow doorways worked to good photographic effect.
Did we mention deer? Yes, after seeing that first one, we saw plenty more of them on the island.
As we had almost completed our perimeter walk, we came up on the Angel Island Immigration Museum, close to Ayala Cove. Time didn't allow us to explore the area as the last daily ferry departs Angel Island at 3.30pm and time was now close to 3pm. We read the sign - this place was used for 30 years up until 1940 and processed more than 1 million immigrants.
The Immigration Museum site was partly surrounded by this fence, presumably to keep deers out of there as what other unwanted guests could there possibly be. However, the fence only covered parts of Perimeter Road to a point. And where the fence finished below, there was clearly a track immediately to its side. Deer?
A short banana break at a lovely spot before we completed our hiking back to Ayala Cove. When we arrived we still had a half hour to spare before the 3.30pm ferry would depart so we attempted to get an overpriced coffee at the cafe. No, it had closed. At 3pm.
We were able to get an ice cream (that we shared) and an awful soda (that we threw away) but why would they not keep it open for another 30 minutes? As other punters proved by arriving after us and trying to open the cafe's closed front door, we were clearly not the only one looking for refreshment before leaving. There is obviously a demand. It couldn't possibly be because the State Park staff are working in a public service...?
Despite the small disappointment at the end we loved Angel Island. Great mix of nature and culture and we recommend a visit to anyone who comes to San Francisco.
Back in Tiburon, we ventured to Woodlands Markets to get some provisions (water and wine) before catching bus 219 back to Vineet's place.
Carrie arrived later and Di cooked up another storm for us, poached salmon with leek. Yum.
Good company, some wine and ice cream for dessert and it was not a long before we all called it a day.