Before Christmas we spent a day showing Maedbh & Ronnie’s friend Kathryn around the city. It was a good exercise in acting tour guide while still discovering new things for ourselves. We drove up to Twin Peaks to take in the view, stopped for a snack at The Mill and visited Alamo Square before driving along the foggy coast to the Sutro Baths—a destination on our list that we had yet to visit.
We all drank in the familiar salty, fishy air that smelled so familiar and so like home. The baths are a truly at-your-own-risk activity and were the winds high or the sea choppy then perhaps we would have stood back and kept to the more secure ground. On this day however, the sea was swirling calmly as we ran across dividing pathways, skipped over rocks and explored the ruined bathing holes.
The baths are surrounded by caves. We ventured down one cavernous tunnel with a sliver of light at the end. The deeper we walked the muddier, wetter and darker it became until we emerged into the light of the other side.
The Sutro Baths is the kind of place you could visit a hundred times and get a different feeling and experience each time, depending on mood and weather and time of year or people present. I definitely intend on testing this theory over the course of the next year. I can never stay far from the sea.
Tri X 35mm film, Canon Eos 3.
The Sutro Bath ruins are located on the north end of Ocean Beach, where Geary Boulevard and the Great Highway converge.
The Baths were built by Adolph Sutro, a self made millionaire, in 1894 and could accommodate up to 10,000 swimmers. The Baths fell into decline after Sutro’s death and became commercially unviable due to The Great Depression, lack of public transport access and public health codes. In 1973 the Sutro Baths became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Click here for directions.