The Bridge to Nowhere hike had been at the top of my list of "must hike" trails ever since I moved to Los Angeles, though the mileage of the hike had always been a bit daunting. But lately I've felt more confident in my hiking skills - I've had time to gather some of the more important gear, and I've also had the experience of backpacking eight miles with a full pack on my back, so I started to gain confidence that a 12 mile day hike might not be so bad. So last weekend - a perfect sunny April day - I decided to check another hike of my list.
The alluring Bridge to Nowhere sits perched between two mountainous slopes in the San Gabriel Mountains, just northeast of Los Angeles, in what's called the Sheep Mountain Wilderness. it truly is a bridge to nowhere - with the exception of a few feet of pavement on either side of the bridge, it essentially leads from one brush-covered mountainside to another. The bridge found itself abandoned in the middle of the Sheep Mountain Wilderness in 1936 after a mountain road project was abandoned as a result of heavy flooding. In fact, parts of the hiking trail are slabs of old, weathered asphalt, remnants of the almost-road that never was.
The trail itself is spectacular. April was a wonderful time to hike, as all the yellow and orange desert flowers were in bloom, and the late winter rainfall had given the San Gabriel River an audible voice as it softly murmured through the valley. Yucca plants sometimes covered the valley as far as the eye could see, and occasionally nearly blocking the trail, forcing hikers to turn sideways and slide by in order to avoid an unfriendly poke from a needle-sharp leaf. Aside from the poky plants, the trail demands that hikers be alert and sure-footed as it crosses the river not once but six times, sometimes reaching knees or even hips at the deeper points. But through the yucca fields and river crossings, about five and a half miles in sits the bridge.
Any given weekend, a private company situates in the center of the bridge conducting bungee jumps for anyone who desires to pay money to throw themselves off a bridge and survive. I passed on that opportunity - reaching the bridge and eating beef jerky and Frito's while lounging on a warm rock below it was plenty thrilling for me. I admired the turquoise river below, the beautiful metamorphic rock formations of the gorge, and the displaced architecture of the bridge itself. Occasionally, over the sound of my own chewing and the rushing river below, I could hear someone yell as they leapt from the bungee platform.
In the days after my hike to the Bridge to Nowhere, my legs were sore like I haven't experienced since high school track conditioning. I moaned getting out of bed, sitting down, standing up, climbing stairs, and doing just about anything else. But I can't wait to do that hike again - to cross the river when it's a bit calmer and warmer - and maybe bring a swimsuit so I can take a mid-hike rest in the San Gabriel river. Maybe I'll actually pack a real lunch next time so that I feel sustained without eating an entire 9-dollar bag of beef jerky and a few thousand calories worth of Frito's. Maybe next time I'll remember to put film in my Polaroid. But if one thing is certain, there will definitely be a next time.