Hipcamp Hits the Road: Angel Island

So lately we’ve been getting some pretty severe summer weather (don’t worry, we forgive you Karl the fog for rolling in this week). Instead of sitting in the heat, wondering what the heck is going on, we decided it was the perfect opportunity for a waterside adventure. Our destination: Angel Island, a natural oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of San Francisco Bay.

We kicked off our first trip of the season (Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning, right?) at Tiburon, quite literally sparkling in the beautiful weather, to catch our ferry out.

We were met with a warm greeting and a grin by Captain Maggie McDonough, who, in addition to being a really cool person, also owns and operates the last family-run ferry company, Angel Island Ferry, in the area. Along with her children, who also help with the company, they represent five generations of family tradition. The part that really blew us away? Her father and grandfather were raised in the same spot that now holds the bustling office of Angel Island Ferry (and the homes where they grew up are still there).

After a short jaunt across the bay, which included seal and porpoise sightings, we organized our gear and headed up the mile-and-a-half hike to our site, located on the ridge. The hike (which was only difficult for the first quarter-mile or so) was absolutely worth the view, which, quite literally, took our breath away.

Hipcamp Hits the Road: Angel Island

Figuring out the best spot to set up camp was pretty difficult (as they were all pretty awesome), and required a little bit of tent moving and negotiating. We had some truly amazing gear, courtesy of Alite Designs, who gave us beautiful tents that were extremely light and super easy to set up (double score!).

Hipcamp Hits the Road: Angel Island

After final spots were negotiated and we had located a spigot to refill our water bottles, we headed out in search of an adventure.

Hipcamp Hits the Road: Angel Island

Angel Island has a rich and complex history, glimpses of which can be found in the faded, abandoned structures that are scattered across the island. Seemingly uncharted territory will give way suddenly to an eerie, empty row of homesteads, or a shuttered and silent former hospital, still ominous as it watches over the bay. Civil War era forts, built in anticipation of a Confederate invasion from the south, stand as a reminder of the war’s reach west, as well as the island’s continuing use as processing point and POW/internment camp during the second world war. If you stand still and listen long enough, you can feel the history in the landscape, and imagine the city across the bay growing and becoming what it is today. And, needless to say, it makes for excellent ghost story fodder.

Our afternoon hike took us along the northeastern side of the island, where we saw several of the local residents (deer, not ghosts) and made our way to Quarry Beach, where the hot day made the normally frigid bay water refreshing on our feet, the sand warm, and the secluded spot a perfect place to sift for sea glass and soak up the view.

Hipcamp Hits the Road: Angel Island

We got back to camp just in time to catch a truly stunning sunset and get the grill fired up. Fresh burgers and roasted veggies were eaten with gusto and, after securing our supplies from raccoons (oh yeah, those guys are more than happy to check out your leftovers), we hit the sack in preparation for our hike out.

We woke up to a spectacular sunrise over the city, and enjoyed a beautiful morning reading and watching the world wake up before packing up and heading out.

Hipcamp Hits the Road: Angel Island

All in all, it was a pretty spectacular kick off to the summer camping season, and the first of what we are sure will be a long and adventurous few months!