Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Island adventure

We we're looking for a little bit of a different adventure on the hiking trail and Alice came up witha great idea, a return trip to Angel Island to check out their hiking trails.  The trip would take us to the cool bay breezes and get us out of the heat for a while.

We made this trip a couple of years ago and we hiked to the top of Mount Livermore.  this hike we would take a stroll around the island following the Perimeter Road which winds for a little over 5 miles or so around the island.

This would turn out to be a little bit of a different feeling hike.  Some of our hikes like Yosemite are just awe inspiring vistas while others such as some of the trails on Mount Diablo are more like death marches.  The Angel Island hike would be more of a tourist stroll-history lesson-pretty vista hike.  A nice change of pace with plenty of photo opportunities along with a nice bit of exercise navigating some good climbs here and there.

We picked up the ferry to the island in Oakland and soon we were heading across a foggy bay to the island which at one point in its history served as an immigration station processing over one million Asian immigrants.  it also saw duty as military base with forts and garrisons and even held a Nike missile air defense station int he 1950s.  All that is in the past and now the island is part of the California State Parks system.

We headed out deciding to take a clockwise course around the island and made one of our first stops the Immigration Station which is now a national historic landmark.  A newly dedicated memorial and walking history tour of the station took us to the beaches edge where many immigrants made their first steps on to U.S. soil.

The sights along the road are fantastic, views of the bay and San Francisco skyline with dozens of sailboats and powered ships working their way across the water.  On the trail, hummingbirds and bees buzzed along the flowers dotting the road edge.

The eeriest part of the hike was arriving at the Fort McDowell East Garrison.  It is a collection of empty buildings, some showing the wear of age with ivy encrusting their windows or the faded paint on their walls.  As the fog rolled past above it looked like smoke from a war zone as we made our past the derelict structures in silence.
There were many vista points along the trail and the morning fog finally burned off near the end of our hike.  The blue waters of bay still had patches of fog clinging to them as nearby Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate bridge were covered in a shroud of the mist.

Heading back to Oakland on the ferry we had a good view on the construction work underway on the new bay Bridge segment.  Soon we re back at the dock and headed back to the valley heat.
It was a great hike, diverse scenery and awesome views.  This weekend's hike takes us down near the Santa Cruz mountains for one last tune up before I test my mettle on a solo climb on Mount Diablo as I head back to the toughest trail the mountain has to offer.