Sunrise in the Headlands

Sunrise over Angel Island

Waking up early enough to watch the sunrise is a unusual experience no matter where you are – especially for us 10-6ers. There are the unfortunate times we all know too well – when you’ve been working all night and the sun’s glorious light burns your eyes or when you’re catching the first plane and your head aches as you shove your face in your neck pillow. Far more elusive are the magnificent times when you’re thrilled just to witness the beauty of this cyclical event. This is one of those times.

Thanks to Michael and his competitive spirit, the top 5 on the leader board are pushing themselves to the limit. Albert, a co-worker of mine, chooses to walk most of his steps in the morning on his way to work. One particular morning he walked over Mt. Davidson and snapped this gorgeous image. Allison and I saw it separately and were immediately flooded with the same desire – WE wanted to watch the sunrise from an amazing viewpoint and take beautiful photos. I suggested walking to the top of Twin Peaks, of course I wanted to walk – lol, and she was already planning a trip to the Marin Headlands. After seeing so many amazing morning shots of the Golden Gate Bridge from Hawk Hill thanks to our insane morning biker friends (see: Jeremy Brault, Robert Little, Jim Wimpy, & more), we were super pumped to experience it ourselves.

We woke up at 4am and were on the road by 5:30. Allison set alarms for each stage of sunrise and dropped some solar education on the way to our first destination.

Sunrise Cheat Sheet created by Allison.

Our first stop was the Vista Point, the visitor center and lookout on the Headland’s side of Golden Gate Bridge. It was cold and dark. The only thing you could hear was trash being whipped around on the ground. Chris and Allison tried to keep their tripods steady in the wind as I walked around wrapped in a blanket with my handy dandy headlamp strapped to my forehead. Once in awhile I would snap a few pictures with my PowerShot, but without a tripod everything was pretty blurry. Another photographer drove up, took a few pictures, and then quickly left.

‘Untitled’ by Chris.

‘Nautical Twilight – 5:58am’ by Allison.

Our second stop was halfway between Hawk Hill and Battery Spencer. We had tried to drive up to Hawk Hill only to find that the road was closed to cars. We stopped at this halfway point briefly until we saw people on top of the hill closer to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Chris and Allison taking photos.

‘Untitled’ by Chris.

Turns out the hill closer to Golden Gate Bridge is Battery Spencer – a rather famous tourist destination that I have never been to. If you imagine the Golden Gate Bridge, the iconic picture you’re seeing in your mind’s eye is from this location. Battery Spencer ended up being where we watched the sunrise from – and it was epic.

‘Untitled’ by Chris.

‘Untitled’ by Chris.

The photographers being photographed.

‘Quintessential Golden Gate Bridge at Sunrise’ by Allison.


‘Sunrise – 6:59am’ by Allison.

At a certain point a rapper showed up and started blaring jams. We slide down a carefully slide down a dirt path to Hendrik Point in an effort to get away and start taking a few fun portraits.

Hendrik Point

‘Epic battle of some kind?’ by Allison.

‘Chris in flight?’ by Allison.

At 7:45am, the sun fully in the sky, we returned to the city. At 8:30am we were the first in line at Zazie – before they even had the sign up sheet outside. The benefits to being awake early!

After Zazie we went our separate ways and I passed out. That night Chris and I went to the top of the UCSF Dentistry Building to watch the sunset. Definitely not as epic as the sunrise, but it was a good way to end the day. All in all it was an amazing morning and totally worth doing – at least once. If you’d like to see all of our photos, please follow the links to our respective Flickr sets: Allison, Chris, Linzi.


‘Three and the sun!’ by Allison.