To combat seasonal sadness, get out and stroll San Francisco

Have you noticed that you’re feeling a bit sad? It might be the realization that Donald Trump will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, but it might also be that you’re literally suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Each year, starting in the fall, when daylight hours begin to get shorter until the early days of spring, millions of people attribute their feelings of lethargy, sluggishness and general lower exuberance to a condition that was diagnosed starting in the 1980s.

More recent and much more comprehensive research, however, suggests that SAD might not be the troubling mental health disorder defined by psychologists. Whether the condition rises to the standard required to meet clinical definitions for depression, the truth is that winter months often mean cold weather and less sunlight, as well as the onset of colds and flus — and far too many holiday treats. Taken together, these conditions typically discourage people from going outdoors and being active, activities that studies have consistently shown do improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.

To cure those winter blues, Walk San Francisco is taking a cue from novelist E.M. Forester, who wrote, “What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?”

Join adventurer and veteran monthly walk leader Aaron Dence for an invigorating and inspiring sunrise hike through Eureka Valley and up to Twin Peaks.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, we will scale some of the many hidden staircases of the Castro while winding our way up toward the summit of Twin Peaks as part of a heart-pumping three and a half mile route.

Along the hike, we will explore secret staircases and little-known neighborhood playgrounds with adult-friendly cement slides, journey through streets and natural trails to pass through local pocket parks and natural spaces, and enjoy incredible views of The City, as it wakes up to its more than 837,000 residents.

We’ll also arrive at the second-highest point in San Francisco in time to watch the sunrise from the roof of The City. (Be sure to bring your cameras or camera-ready mobile phones to snap a picture of the glorious sights.)

Imagine following in the long tradition of human history, from Stonehenge, the Aztecs, Mayans and Inca, to the ancient Egyptians — who were so enthralled by the sun that they dedicated three different gods to its celestial movements: Horus, the rising sun; Ra, the noon sun; and Osiris, the setting sun — as you, too, stand in awe while watching the sun climb over the Oakland Hills. Best of all, our climb to the top of the viewing summit will take us onto the new car-free segment of Twin Peaks Boulevard, one of the rare streets in San Francisco that have been opened up entirely to people walking and biking.

Our walk begins in the Castro at Philz Coffee (though make note, they won’t be open at the early start time). Stops will include Seward Park and Tank and Kite Hills.

The walk ends at Réveille Coffee Co. for an optional breakfast and well-deserved coffee.


Rise and Shine Staircase Walk
When Saturday, Jan. 21, 6–9a.m.
Where: Start at Philz Coffee, 549 Castro St.
Info: Walk space is limited; $10 minimum donation; RSVPs required at

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