TWIN PEAKS (910'), SAN FRANCISCO March 18, 2001

Rex and I wished to hike something this weekend, so took off for San Francisco, where this world famous summit was situated. We parked at the Pittsburg BART station, with a fare of $4.30 necessary for each way. This BART extension had been built only a few years ago, and offers the closest commute parking station from the east.

It required about an hour of riding, and we debarked at the Embarcadero Station. Emerging to bright sunshine and blue skies, we were surrounded by high rises looming far, far above. Locals are immune to the gawking, but I can't help it each time. We start here, by our tradition, rather than much closer to the peak. This makes it a more worthy ascent.

Our typical hike runs southwest along Market Street, the busiest main thoroughfare of this town. We had planned to stop for food and drink, but the fast food outlets and bakeries didn't have our wants, except at a higher price. The street was busy, with buses roaring by. Homeless persons and panhandlers were as numerous as ever.

I noted what was new. I haven't been here for many years. I braved taking a few quick pictures, and we spent a few minutes at the outdoor market at the United Nations Plaza near City Hall.

Walking through to 17th Street, we climbed up a steep hill to Clayton Street, and then shortly, Twin Peaks Boulevard. This winding road leads to the top. Golden poppies and blue irises graced the green, grassy slopes. The view was breathtaking!

A large parking lot and a concrete viewpoint built on the east side of the hill offered the best urban views I have ever seen. Why we don't just drive up (?) was a tradition begun by a friend and fellow leader of the Sierra Club in the early 1980's. Many drive-up peaks we climb from their base to claim a more worthy ascent. We do this on Mt. Diablo, of course, and in the past, Mount Tamalpais.

Needing to bag the peak, we ascended both the two bumps that make the Twin. The southern one, with more wooden stairs, is the highest.

Here at 12:45 p.m., I took a few more photos, then we decided not to continue to Mt. Davidson, the highpoint of the City and County of San Francisco.

Retracing our route back northeast on Market Street, we hoped to go to the Wharf and Chinatown. The day was gorgeous! I had run out of film, but had plenty of pictures from previous hikes. Stopping for drink, we passed by what was apparently a movie or TV shoot in the Financial District.

Choosing now to get home early, we headed back to Embarcadero Station, and boarded BART at 4:02 p.m. Coming back to Pittsburg by about 5 p.m., we motored home without a stop with plenty of daylight.

We did some 9 miles with 1000' gain, round trip. It was T-shirt weather most of the day. This is one of the finest urban hikes to do in California.