We have a real, honest-to-goodness, mysterious hermit in the Bay Area whom no one seems to have to photographed or seen alive. And his precarious and sublime cliffside dwelling, fashioned out of driftwood and tarps, has become a recent source of fascination due to some drone footage.
The elaborate, 3+-story shack, built into a cliff maybe twenty feet above the surf, had been there about 10 years, or at least since 2016, when it was spied on last fall by a drone being flown by a guy named Nick. Nick published the video to YouTube, under the headline "Impossible Driftwood Shack, Pacifica SF." The location is actually in the Pedro Point Headlands south of Pacifica, not far from the Devil's Slide Trail.
SFGate published a story this week about the mysterious structure, which certainly looked inhabited — up close shots showed various buoys, signs, and at least one or two enclosed rooms tarped off from the elements. There was also a rope attached to a flatter area above the steep cliff, which looked like it was there to help the inhabitant climb up and down when needed.
Subsequently, the Chronicle did some research and found a more recent photograph by a Chronicle photographer — taken aboard a Coast Guard helicopter in January — that showed the same cliff with a big pile of a debris where the shack was. Obviously, that rickety structure did not survive this past winter's crazy storms, but it's not clear if, perhaps, it has been rebuilt since then — and no doubt this wasn't the first time in ten years that a storm had damaged it.
Did you see the photos of the mysterious shack clinging to the cliffs in Pacifica?— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) September 15, 2023
Here's the story on how long it's been there, who might be living there and what happened during California's winter storms.https://t.co/y5gfCO71Vy
Samuel Casillas, president of the Pacifica Land Trust, tells the Chronicle, "We were aware there was something down there, but we didn’t know whose it was or whose property it was on. It’s in a dangerous location that is really not accessible."
Casillas further says he hopes visitors enjoy the beauty of the Pedro Point Headlands, but that no one should be trying to get there own photos or contact the hermit, assuming he's still down there.
"We weren’t bothering a person who wants to be a hermit. We know someone’s been there but we just don’t know who it is... The dude should just be left alone," Casillas tells the Chronicle.
But it's obviously a source of curiosity, and there's already a Reddit thread wondering how the dude gets food and water down there, and joking about the prime real estate that he has been inhabiting for free for a decade. "Spacious, open concept waterfront property for only $3400/month," jokes one.
Casillas said that the land trust had reached out the county to try to figure out whose land the shack resides on, and they never received a response.
Obviously this hermit's semi-secret spot shouldn't get blown up by looky-loos — or more drone operators — but the media coverage makes that feel a little inevitable. Don't hike down there though! It looks treacherous.
Top photo via ParallaxEffect/Youtube