San Francisco, CA to Mill Valley, CA

7.8 mi / 10.0 mph / 550 ft. climbing
Home: Kirby Cove Campground, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

This may have been the shortest ride we’ve done where we’ve actually changed “homes” for the night.  But this Kirby Cove campsite that we’d booked (for $30, rather than the hiker/biker prices we’re used to) was more “this is a unique attraction we should visit” rather than “this is a place to sleep when traveling between places”. Again, a part of the “this is our lives” genre of bike touring.

The rain that we’d waited out by staying an extra night in San Francisco didn’t get the hint that we were trying to nudge it out the door, so even waiting until our 11am VRBO checkout didn’t keep us from getting misted on. The plus side was that there aren’t too many tourists walking the Golden Gate Bridge on a wet Tuesday morning, so we mostly had the bridge sidewalk to ourselves.

Rett approaching the Golden Gate Bridge from the southwest.
The bridge is still really big. #FindRett

When we reached the top of the 10% hill just after the crossing that put us nearly level with the top of the two red towers, the wind whipped a new blast of rain into us, and made us stop to question if this whole day’s adventure made any sense at all. As usual, we settled on something like “we’ve already come this far, so…”

Down the 400 feet we went, on a mile-long muddy gravel road that we walked for the whole way, to a camp with water everywhere yet not a drop to drink. And it was definitely the right call. It felt like cheating, to be so close to the city, yet suddenly feel so far from any other humans. None of the four other walk-in campsites were occupied (I guess the people who’d reserved them weren’t as adventurous/dumb as us), so we had this whole secret cove all to ourselves.

This view is why it’s such an in-demand place to pitch a tent.
San Francisco
Happy at Kirby Cove, despite the wet.
Back down to sea-level, where the Pacific Ocean becomes a bay.

Due to the extremely short distance, even our late departure left us with plenty of time to explore the campground, and the jail-like concrete World War II military installation at the beach. We could see the bridge from our tent at Site #3, but Site #1 definitely has the money shot.

Rett scouting our movie projection site on Battery Kirby.

And that short distance (along with a 5pm sunset) also left time for the luxury of an after-dinner outdoor San Francisco-set movie (“Always Be My Maybe”), projected onto the graffiti-concealing white-painted concrete wall of the bunker. Our camp chairs and dessert completed our one-night-only theater, with the continuing mist (that eventually soaked us as we sat) revealing the beam of the projector like swirling dust motes.

Movie in the mist!

A whole crew of people eventually trickled into Site #1 in the dark, and I imagine some of them were curious about the flashing light and noise coming from our corner of the bunker, but none came to investigate (probably fearing it was a zombie trap).



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