San Francisco – Everyday Insider (TM) Trip 22B

Today, I am continuing the series about San Francisco’s beautiful Twin Peaks. These are hills which let us see a 360 degree view of the whole city, as well as the ocean and San Francisco Bay, beyond, when weather permits.

This is an area which is special, not just because of its natural beauty, but that is what I will share more of today.

As an article in the San Francisco Examiner related:, “Once upon a time, Twin Peaks stood as one mountain, a united man and wife. But the couple quarreled long and bitterly, until at last the Great Spirit cleaved them with a bolt of lightning. The neighborhood has been quiet ever since — or so say the chroniclers of Indian legend.”

Those Ohlone Native Americans, alas, are no longer here to confirm or deny the tale. They marked a drastic change in the neighborhood with the arrival of the Spaniards. The Europeans brought disease and devastation to these peaceful people, over whom they tried to be paternalistic but stern.

The Spanish fortified the nearby Presidio in 1776. Maps from this period call Twin Peaks “Los Pechos de la Choca” or a ribald “Breasts of the Indian Maiden”. Why not just call it “The Maiden”? It’s typical chauvanism and disrespect from colonial occupiers.

General Vallejo, Governor of Spanish California, had a botanically minded son who once remarked, “Never have I seen a cultured woman half so fair as this untaught, unadorned daughter of the wilds.” At least that’s more even-handed.

Young Vallejo may in fact have identified this Franciscan flora, and it is, indeed, the smallest floristic region in California.

The curvaceous landscape of The Maiden, made of flinty chert and undulating sand dunes, supports a body of low-growing coastal scrub and grassland, reclining as she does — from the heady regions of Mendocino County and Sonoma County to the north to her flowing garment as the Santa Cruz Mountains to the south, near San Jose.

The land, rich with texture, aroma and color and “personified” as our fair Maiden, helps those who reside in her protection, to define their local Bay Area identity.

Her feet curl around Sign Hill, emblazoned with “South San Francisco: The Industrial City” in block letters, which you will see as you come north from SF airport.

Her long legs are San Bruno Mountain, stretching for several miles of the inner peninsula, with Brisbane and Colma snuggled on either side, and you see this huge hill coming from SFO, too.

Above the rude “garter”, around Daly City, her saucy flank swells at Mount Davidson, San Francisco’s tallest hill at nearly 1000 feet, which was named for an early conservationist member of the famed Sierra Club.

Then this Lady-of-the-Land slims to a waistline and rises again to the torso and breasts of Twin Peaks, shoulders at Diamond Heights and Corona Heights, arms embracing Sunset Heights and Bernal Hill, with long tresses of green serpentine flowing out to Bayview and into the Presidio, itself. Maybe you will see this beauty from above as you fly into the city. Watch for her.

More on this natural treasure of Twin Peaks, next time.

San Francisco Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Leave a Reply