Mt Davidson Ethereal in the Fog

This is one of our “park visitor” series – first person accounts of our parks, published with permission.

Last month, I walked up mysterious and beautiful Mt Davidson on a foggy day with a friend.

pics45 081We entered through this gate, just to the left of the bus stop on Myra Way. I wondered why the gate had so many different locks on it.

six locksWe continued up the path and into the lovely  forest.

Mt Davidson forest Aug 2014In other parts of California – and even on the other side of this very mountain – the plants are dry and brown. The forest was damp and green and lush.

Brilliant nasturtiums in fog-filled Mt Davidson forestThe nasturtiums bloomed in bright orange highlights in the misty forest.

wild strawberries on Mt DavidsonWild strawberries provided little pops of red.

Mt Davidson Misty ForestEven though I know this forest, it felt like walking into a fairy-tale.

Fairytale forest on Mt DavidsonIt was easy to understand how people in ages past thought forests might have enchanted deer or birds or other beings living in them.

enchanted animals or birds could live hereAs we climbed up, I could see Mount Davidson’s Cross among the trees.

climbing up toward the cross

We passed the vista point, where the Murdered Tree fell over last year. But the view was only of Karl the Fog, denser now.

Murdered tree point with no vista

The little plateau of the Cross was completely misty.

Mt Davidson Cross in the fogSomeone was conducting a memorial ceremony of his own there, at the foot of the cross.  A few people wandered around. For some reason, this picture reminds me of an Ingmar Bergman film.

Mt Davidson Cross in the fog - aug 2014

Appropriately, forget-me-nots bloomed a light blue nearby.

forget-me-nots near Mt Davidson Cross Aug 2014As we made out way down from the cross, we found this little cave, where someone had erected tiny cairns of stones. It was half hidden by the Pacific Reed grass, the moisture-loving grass that grows like green hair over the rocks above the trail.

tiny cairns in a little cave - mt DavidsonHere’s another picture to show the scale of the cave.

cairn cave handWe wandered back down the trail, looking at the moss in the trees of the mist forest…

moss and fern in Mt Davidson tree

… and the epiphytes, like these ferns.

ferns on tree in Mt Davidson Forest

It was time to leave. In the words of Robert Frost: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep/ But I have promises to keep/ And miles to go before I sleep.”

But as long as  this forest and I are around in San Francisco, I’ll be back.

stone steps in Mt D forest

 

Damp Forest on Mt Davidson – Tony Holiday

This is another of our Park Visitor series: First-person accounts of visits to our San Francisco parks. This photo-essay is by Tony Holiday, a San Francisco hiker and blogger.  It’s adapted from his blog, Stairways are Heaven and published with permission. (Visit his blog for more pictures, and for the second post that details the route out of the forest down the Bengal steps.)

It’s high summer now, and elsewhere in California, fires have started. In our forests, it’s damp, even wet. We were struck by the contrast between the wetness of the forested area, and the dry open space adjacent to it on Mount Davidson. This is the cloud forest effect: The trees harvest the moisture from the fog and keep the forest cool and damp.

DAMP FOREST by Tony Holiday

The #36 Teresita stops at Mount Davidson Park’s main south entrance (Dalewood & Myra) where a steep trail climbs to the openspace part of the park. I love this trail: forested to start out, with a vast view to the east a little way up.

Here’s the south trail head.

4334894_orig - 1 South trailhead

And a small offshoot trail…

8176020_orig 2 offshoot trail

I climbed out of the forest to the open space.

7570617_orig 4 curving around

7082684_orig 3 climbing to the open space

THE OPEN SPACE AND VIEWS

This is the open space part of the mountain, with views to the east  and south over the city.

5027966_orig 5 view east

7960836_orig 8 looking south

2513967_orig 9 openspace bench

3514794_orig 10 view north

7411013_orig 11 view north

It’s a good place to pause for tea and admire the view…

5093980_orig 12 pausing for tea

Climbing 22 steps from the open space brings you to the plateau on top of the mountain with the 103-foot cross.

2858920_orig 16 summit cross

BACK INTO THE COOL LUSH FOREST

Down 22 old wood steps from the north side of the cross…

4275316_orig 17 old wood step start down from the side of the monument

… there’s a short trail…

5819148_orig 19 ferns and a damp trail

2691069_orig 20 down to a main trail

…then 12 more stone steps to the next main trail down.

1660245_orig 22 foot of one of the short stone stairways

Up here the trails were damp or muddy, including some actual puddles.

7940036_orig 23 muddy upper trail

Another short stone stairway:

572463_orig 24 anothr stone stairway

Following the trailing down, enjoying the cool, lush forest…

6294871_orig 25 trees and rocks

3227413_orig 26 down through the forest

… and the greenery below the trail…

4428599_orig 27 below the trail

4787964_orig 28 forest view

The trail went winding down…
3864834_orig 29 winding around

… and it was just me, the forest, and birdsong.

8763025_orig 30 just me, the forest, and birdsong

The forest was peaceful…

806571_orig 31 peaceful and cool

… as I followed the narrow and winding path to its end.

1526681_orig 33 narrow and winding

Love the ferns here!

6534432_orig 34 love the ferns