Marin Headlands – Tennessee Point


Tennessee Point - August 2014

The view southward from Tennessee Point (a stitched panorama).

After a pleasant day lawn bowling at the venerable SFLBC in Golden Gate Park, Claudia and I made our way out to the Marin Headlands through bumper-to-bumper Labor Day traffic. We were welcomed by a fantastic afternoon – hardly a trace of fog and a gentle sea breeze. From the Rodeo Beach parking lot we took a late day hike north along the coast. Instead of climbing up toward Battery Townsley and Wolf Ridge, our common route, we opted for the low road walking a bit less than a mile to where the trail ends due to steep bluffs. At the terminus we found Tennessee Point itself – a curious, flat, bare plateau perhaps 100 feet above the surf line. Here Claudia paused to read while I flew the camera. I am curious about the history of this bare, flat patch. Surely it was once used for something.

Tennessee Point - August 2014

The view north along a rugged coastline to Tennessee Valley.

I was generally interested in this area for several reasons. This is the seaward end of Wolf Ridge, a hillock that saw interesting activity in World War II. It is also just south of a major landslide area that has disrupted roads, base end stations, and other construction from previous military epochs. At some point I would like to photograph this slide so the day’s outing provided a scouting opportunity.

Tennessee Point - August 2014

Three base end stations are visible in the upper center of this image.

I was a little surprised to see how rugged the bluffs became between the trail’s end and Tennessee Valley, the next point of coastal access to the north. I was also delighted to find three base end stations snuggled into the low hillside just above the end of the trail. This KAP flight would also position the camera out in front of the twin Battery Townsley casemates thus affording a new view of that subject.

Tennessee Point - August 2014

The session yielded this rather nice panorama (stitched from four landscape format images).

I flew the camera for an hour or so near sunset below a Sutton Flowforn 30. The breeze remained gentle and consistent – just enough to keep the lighter Canon EOS-M rig aloft. Every few minutes a flight of several Brown Pelicans would glide past our position on the bluff making elegant use of orographic lift and passing just a few dozen feet away. It was peaceful and quiet, a delightful time in this most scenic spot.

Walking back we chatted about our earlier encounter with a group of a half dozen folks at Battery Rathbone – McIndoe. They appeared to be a professional video crew flying a new DJI S1000 octocopter drone featuring retractable landing gear and a Zenmuse gimbal carrying a Panasonic GH3. This is a pretty fancy drone setup worth over ten grand at least. Its large 6S LiPo batteries will keep it aloft for 12 to 15 minutes. Lord knows what they were up to or whether they had permission (it is my understanding that drones are not allowed in the GGNRA). While I greatly admire the technology of this setup I think its cost and complexity (both technical and regulatory) would be a source of continuing anxiety. For me the kites seem so pleasantly simple in comparison. Granted I am shooting photographs and they must have been videographers.

Here is a set of images from the session that I have posted to Flickr:




I am taking these aerial photographs as a volunteer with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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