Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Bridge to Nowhere

Summer is rapidly approaching and Josh and I decided a little river walk was in order. Where better than the Bridge to Nowhere in The Sheephead Wilderness area of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The bridge was built in the east fork of the San Gabriel River in 1936 in an attempt to connect the San Gabriel Valley to Wrightwood. The road connected to the bridge was washed out in a storm in March of 1938. After failed attempts to rebuild the road the project was abandoned leaving the bridge a hiking and equestrian attraction.

We left San Diego pretty late and arrived at the ranger station just outside of Asuza around noon. We got our permit and headed up the winding road toward the trail head. When we arrived there were cars EVERYWHERE! We lucked out and found a spot not far from the start of the hike. It was warm already, about 80 degrees. We slapped on a ton of sunscreen and headed out. Josh was working hard on filling in his farmers tan and we were both working on kicking out our glycogen stores to get back on our low carb diet.

After a walk down a dirt road, which is the remnants of the road that once connected to the bridge, we arrived a our first river crossing. After our jaunt in the Sierra a couple weeks ago we were no longer worried about hiking with wet feet and so we tromped on through. The water was warm and felt good countering the heat.

The trail is not very intuitive due to braiding and scree from rock slides. We walked primarily along the exposed river bed and could see mirages from the heat.

 An abandoned birds nest on the ground.

 The temperature and the over crowding on the trail finally took it's toll on me and I jumped in the water. Phew! Much better!

We ran into a thicket of poison oak on the way. Leaves of three let it be!

We crossed the John Seals Bridge at around mile two and officially entered the Sheephead Wilderness boundary.

I think all together there were about six river crossings due to rock slides and calving on the trail. It is interesting to see all of the prospectors panning for gold in the water. Some wore wet suits while others looked like they came right out of the 1800's with heavy boots, long beards and overalls. One prospector we spoke with said he always finds at least a little gold on his trips but every now and then he strikes it big. There are many quartz veins in the granite canyon walls that tell of the gold contained within.

 The Yucca was in bloom and gigantic! I've not seen such huge and healthy specimens.

 We left the river bed and climbed up to the old road on the ridge line. It was blazing hot! We found a tree and hold up under it eating shot blocks and pounding water. Maybe this wasn't the best day to try to get back on our diet. Hiking it seems, is always hard. Even the easy trails have their challenges.

 The Bridge and a half mile of land in either direction of it, are privately owned. The owner runs a bungee jumping company that meets on weekends. As we neared there were folks actively jumping and hoots and hollers could be heard echoing in the canyon.

 After watching the party on the bridge for a while we continued up river into the area known as The Narrows. The trail is a scramble with sheer cliffs and loose sand.  We hiked until the canyon walls started to close in on the river and create a riparian area that was cool and quiet.

We found a rock that looked comfortable and kicked off our shoes for a little relaxing, eating and swimming in the pools. It was the best part of the day and a true invitation to the good times to be had this summer.

You know it's a good day when Josh starts shedding his clothes. :-)

 At about 4:30 we decided to hit the trail and hike out the 5 miles we'd hiked in. There was a smaller group of bungee jumpers preparing on the bridge.

 We chased the sun as we hiked out of the canyon and felt our blood sugar turn to dust from insufficient meals that day. We certainly went back in to Ketosis but now felt like taking a nap on the trail.

We hiked out with a prospector who had a mini reunion with other prospectors in the parking lot, which was interesting to watch. Once back at the truck we ate all the food we had and took off for Outback to enjoy a steak!

There was more elevation gain than I anticipated. 2,377 feet and 10.4 miles. Great day hike!

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