On Sunday D. and I went up to Sweeney Ridge in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Sweeney Ridge is significant for being the site of the European discovery of San Francisco Bay (the native Ohlone Indians already knew about it) as well as the site of a Cold War-era Nike missile control station, and noted for its stunning views. Here's some of the pics I took.
Here we be.
The Sneath Lane Trail, with San Andreas Reservoir visible in the distance.
Western Vervain (*Verbena lasiostachys).
The trail ascends on its way to the ridge. We are lucky that there is no fog today.
Yellow wildflowers, and cow parsnip seed head.
Another view of San Andreas Reservoir, and a maintenance road leading through the hills to the reservoir.
Hillside morning glory is nestled in with some poison oak.
A view of Mt. Diablo to the east.
Coast larkspur is withering under the summer sun.
A plane takes off past a cargo terminal at SFO by the edge of the Bay.
As we climb higher, more of the reservoir becomes visible, as well as the Diablo Range in the East Bay, hazy on the horizon.
The trail brings us closer to the ridge. The higher we go, the more stunning the views.
Common Checkerbloom, and Birdfoot Trefoil with Blue-eyed grass.
As we climb higher we can see San Bruno Mountain, with its broadcast antennas (right), and San Francisco's iconic Sutro Tower (left), hazy from a marine layer moving in from the ocean, as well an another glimpse of Mt. Diablo across the Bay.
More checkerbloom, and a White-crowned Sparrow at the side of the trail.
Common Yellow Monkeyflower likes to grow in wet, shady places, preferably at the water's edge. These are in a deeply shaded ravine.
Mt. Diablo in the arms of a dead tree.
In a ravine just below the 1,213' ridge top, we find Rigid Hedge Nettle, Douglas iris, and a fern and moss encrusted blue gum. They must get a lot of fog here.
Lupine, and more checkerbloom.
At last we reach the ridge top, and behold the Pacific.
The plaque commemorating the first European discovery of San Francisco Bay.
Word has it that Portolá was so confused he thought he was at Monterey Bay.
Here's a cylindrical monument with bas relief depictions etched into it of the vistas visible from each point around it.
A view of the wilderness of the northeastern flank of Montara Mountain.
More checkerbloom, and twinberry, a honeysuckle relative, which bears pairs of berries in bright red bracts.
A view of the Devil's Slide Tunnel under construction.
Devil's Slide, along the Pacific coast, is a steep, unstable geological formation. This section of road has a long history of closure due to rockslides, and has claimed many lives. A tunnel option to bypass the unstable coastal road has been in public and political dispute off and on for several decades but finally got underway in 2005. The project calls for construction of two tunnels beneath San Pedro Mountain, each 30' wide and 4,200' long, and is slated to open in early 2012.
A water tank on the ridge, with an odd spout sticking out of it, and ubiquitous ridge-top antennae.
We arrive at the abandoned Nike missile radar site on the ridge, deactivated over 40 years ago.
This was not a missile launch site; this site coordinated continuous adjustments to the missile's trajectory on its way toward its target to ensure a successful hit.
A western fence lizard pauses on the side of the guard shack.
A rusted-out circuit breaker box in the radar building.
The arrow points to where the fire extinguisher was stored.
Daisies and rust.
I think they have a leaky roof problem here.
Some more stuff inside the radar building.
Looking out a radar building window onto the ready room.
More rusty dilapidation overhead in the radar building.
The winking grille.
Looking into the ready room building.
The ready room building, which is little more than a burned-out shell.
One of the rooms in the ready room building has a bee's nest inside the cinder block wall. Bees swarm in and out in a constant buzzing stream.
Oddly, there is very little graffiti in this room.
A brightly-spray-painted gang box dangles in a doorway of the ready room building.
Rusted barbed wire.
Outside, a bee visits a Sea Fig.
A view of San Bruno Mountain.
More buildings in the abandoned Nike site to explore.
Ooh, look, more rust!
Some more rooms with a leaky roof problem.
Electrical conduits in the generator building.
Graffiti, mystery objects, and a light switch.
Abandoned = layers of flaking paint and rust.
Graffiti bunny, and outlets.
Have I mentioned that there's a lot of graffiti around here?
The generator building, and electrical conduits and a chipped ceramic insulator out in back.
A turkey vulture soars over the ridge as we make our way back in the late afternoon sun.
If you look carefully, you can see right through its nostril.