Sutro Baths and Land’s End

Thursday’s plan was to do a hike along Land’s End. It’s one of Zack and Susan’s favorite hikes in the city and, this being the week to celebrate them, it made sense to torture our out-of-town family members on this mildly strenuous and painfully beautiful excursion. By Thursday I was starting to feel human again (thank God!), thus able to venture out with everyone.

Alex and Mom Cliff House

We started at Cliff House where you are bestowed with an amazing view of Ocean Beach and in the morning light it glows golden like this.

Zack and Nathalie’s matching hats are adorable. And I love how Nathalie’s hand positioned over her mouth makes it look as though she’s pondering some deeper thoughts on the meaning of life while wistfully staring off into the far ocean horizon. The way that girl’s mind works, I totally wouldn’t put it past her.

Zack and Nathalie

Below is a shot of the Sutro Bath Ruins. Built in the late 19th century, the Sutro Baths opened as the world’s largest indoor natatorium. There were seven pools, one fresh water and the rest salt water all ranging in different temperatures. During high tide the pools would fill in a mere hour from water flowing directly from the ocean, but during low tide a turbine water pump would help to fill the tanks, which would take five hours. Sadly the building burnt to the ground in 1966 and today all we see of it are ruins.

Sutro Bath Ruins

Here’s what a shot taken from the same location would have looked like in the early 1900s.

Perhaps a photo taken from the back can give a better view of the immensity of the structure.

Sutro Baths Behind

Also, it wasn’t just the world’s large pool complex, but it additionally housed a museum and restaurants.

Sutro Baths Museum

Alex, Audrey, and Quinn enjoyed exploring and climbing on the ruins.

Climbing Sutro Bath Ruins

Climbing Sutro Bath Ruins

And here’s what the inside of the building looked like back in its heyday.  From a newspaper clipping on opening day, I read that it could accommodate 8,000 spectators, which I assume was a lot of people in 1896 considering only 300,000 people lived in the city at that time. If you’re curious, you can see a ton more photos and info about the baths here.

And today instead of people frolicking in the water here, birds and other sea creatures enjoy the remains of these salty pools, while people observe from a distance.

Watching Ducks Sutro Baths

I find the next photo amazing—simply because everyone is actually smiling at the camera. With a group of four that includes a 2-year old (who is Nathalie and usually off doing her own thing) in the picture, that’s pretty rare. At least in my experience.

Watching Ducks Sutro Baths

Group Sutro Baths

So the turbine used to pump water into the pools during low tide that I mentioned before was actually built inside a cave. And I’m pretty sure that cave is the one we walked through pictured below.

Sutro Baths Cave

The hill and subsequent stairs to climb up to the parking lot area are a good workout. Too much of a workout for Nathalie’s baby legs so she caught a lift from Uncle Zack.

Zack Climbing Sutro Baths Steps

But, once at the top, she was all about walking on her own.

Nathalie Sutro Baths

While smiling and looking fantastic for the camera is often the most desirable photo, I actually love this more unconventional one. And my favorite part about it is not just Quinn trying to photobomb again, but that he appears to be missing his body from the waist down.

Group

After a quick break soaking up some vitamin D we were off on the hike.

Lands End Trees

Alex and Quinn Hiking

Ah, to be a kid and want to climb all over everything. Were we all like that at age 9? I guess what’s most shocking about this photo is that Alex isn’t up there with them. What?!

Climbing Wall Lands End

Most kids hate hats. Parents purchase them because they know how adorable their kid will look in one, but their child will have nothing to do with it. However, that’s not the case with Nathalie. She adores her hat and even knows how to properly salute with it as exhibited in this photo.

Graeme and Nathalie

Audrey and I were discussing her loose tooth at the beginning of the trail and, after examining it, my assessment was that it would fall out “any day now”. However, I didn’t expect that moment to occur five minutes later while hiking along the trail.

Missing Tooth

Audrey Tooth

Audrey and I were originally walking ahead of the group so after I snapped the previous two photos of her tooth she excitedly ran back to tell everyone what had just transpired. The expression in her face and body as she skips down the trail after revealing the exciting news is priceless.

Group Walking Lands End

Naomi and Zack Walking Lands End

At this point, Naomi and Zack headed back to go pick up their dad from the airport. Meanwhile, the rest of us trudged on and came to this outcropping.

Climbing Hill Lands End

What could they all possibly be looking at?

Group on The Edge Lands End

Why, it’s a zen labyrinth!

Climbing Down Hill

For as long as we’ve lived in the city, this zen labyrinth has been here. And after doing a bit of research just now, apparently it was the year that we moved to SF in 2004 that it was created. However, being a quarter mile off the main trail many people don’t even know about. Perhaps that’s why it remains here to this day without being disturbed.

Walking Lands End Labyrinth

Quinn and Alex Lands End Labyrinth

Audrey Labyrinth Lands End

From the labyrinth we could see the shore below and since the elders in our group decided to take another route to the Labyrinth they ended up just going straight down to the beach (and never actually made it up there—bummer!) They look teeny tiny from here, but if you look really closely you can see them by the stairs.

Cliffs and Beach Lands End

All of that green down there by the beach that looks like grass is actually this…some kind of water-retaining succulent? With our arid conditions (did you know that it only rains during the “winter” here? It’s rare to see even a drop of rain during the summer months) this plant blankets a large chunk of the California coast.

Flower Lands End

I climbed down the cliff to join the others near the water.

Beach Lands End

And not too long after, Audrey (you can spot her mid-way along the trail) followed.

Cliff Lands End

Beach Lands End

Beach Lands End

With the rest of the crew not far behind her.

Beach Lands End

Beach Lands End

Beach Lands End

Back up on the main trail we saw a hawk swiftly dive to the ground, pick at something, and then fly off.

Hawk

Walking Up Steps Lands End

Walking Down Steps Lands End

Right near the end of the hike you get a glimpse of the mega-mansions residing in Sea Cliff with their multi-million dollar ocean views.

Seaside Cliffs

Trees and Stairs

After the hike we returned to the apartment, quickly changed our clothes, and headed to Millennium for an amazing multi-course gourmet vegan meal.

There was such a large group of us that we got our own private room, which was even more dimly lit than the main part of the restaurant, and if there’s one thing that I hate it’s flash photography in dark places, but when that’s the only option…

Alex and Christina Millennium

Surprisingly, the kids loved all of the food (and I say surprising because kids don’t usually like gourmet food, right?). Aidan and Quinn split the February harvest four-course meal and ate every last morsel of it. I had even ordered an appetizer of the crusted oyster mushrooms and Quinn, who claims to abhor mushrooms, LOVED them. In fact, he loved them so much he wanted me to order another round after we collectively “licked the plate clean.”

Nathalie loved the ice cream so much that she stuck her head in the bowl to slurp up whatever last bits she could get.

While walking home, Nathalie was serenaded by a man on the street and she was completely mesmerized by his singing. It was fascinating to watch as I don’t recall that I’ve ever seen any other toddler be so moved by song.

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6 Responses to Sutro Baths and Land’s End

  1. Pingback: Rehearsal and Berkeley Hills Hike « Fruit of Adventure

  2. Shirley Victoria says:

    Great travelogue! What a lot of work, good job!

  3. Ralph says:

    I know this happened 6 months ago, but what a great time you all had Christina. Ralph x 😀

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