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Pahavit's Universe

pahavit
Date: 6-18-2006 11:22 PM
Subject: Today's field trip: Ft. Funston and a Portal to the Past
Security: Public
Tags:field trip, ft funston, golden gate park, lloyd lake, portals of the past
Today's field trip: Ft. Funston and a Portal to the Past

Today D. and I went to Fort Funston, a wind-swept series of bluffs and dunes at the southwest end of San Francisco. It's enormously popular with hang-gliders (who like to fly precariously close to the cliffs) and dog walkers (with virtually every breed of dog represented).

Fort Funston marks the last surviving sand dune system in San Francisco. Embedded with a few defunct missile magazines and gun shelters, these bluffs are now an important wildlife habitat. It is not supposed to be an off-leash dog area, but nearly all of them were cavorting about off-leash, and many of them were off the designated trails as well, which can be a problem for the endangered swallows which nest in the dunes.

The parking lot at the hang-gliding staging area is right on top of a defunct Nike missile emplacement. The hang-gliders really do look like pterodactyls soaring overhead. There was an observation deck at the cliff edge, and a couple of hang-gliders in particular looked like they were showing off for the public by gliding back and forth in front of the deck, doing lazy turns, soaring low overhead, and flying along the shoreline of the deep blue Pacific. A sign by the viewing area warned that "powerless flight vehicles" (meaning the hang-gliders) have been known to crash into the observation deck and spectators have been injured, so we should consider ourselves warned. But the hang-gliders today had it under control, and all were safe.

We walked along a loop trail going past Battery Davis, where the big guns used to be during WW II. Now it's all empty and corroding in the salt air. We kept on seeing cormorants flying laboriously to the north above the beach, and crows were everywhere along the cliff edge playing in the wind. The occasional visual juxtaposition of a few playful crows, a hang-glider and a distant jet from San Francisco International Airport to the south converging in the same patch of sky bordered on the surreal.

On the way home we stopped by Lloyd Lake in Golden Gate Park to see the Portals of the Past. It was closed off for seismic retrofitting, so we walked around the lake and sat for a while watching pigeons, mallards, geese, an egret and some turtles, and even some koi in the murky water. We also looked at the nearby Rainbow Falls, an artificial waterfall in an old pre-Park quarry whose waters are recirculated from Lloyd Lake. Rainbow Falls used to have arches of multicolored lights framing the cascade, hence its name. The lights are long-gone.

We were both wind-blown, sunburned and tired, but happy from a nice day together.


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