Friday, August 9, 2013

Bridge to Nowhere

Hiked: 8/9/2013
Distance: 10.3 miles round trip on trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 2772' (elevation at bridge)
Elevation Gain: 867'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.69
Round trip time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Recommended water: 96 oz. (or filter from the river)
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Moderate

Because of the history of the bridge, this hike was on my to do list for a long time. It follows the east fork of the San Gabriel River from Heaton Flats for several miles through the canyon to the abandoned bridge built in the 1936. Now, the bridge is only used for bungee jumping which was not on my agenda for the day. It turns out the bungee operation was not running today anyway. If time permitted, I also wanted to explore Allison Gulch a little to find the old trail to the gold mine. Some day, I'd like to visit the mine and maybe tackle the southwest ridge of Big Iron.


Noel and Tom on one of many river crossings

The bridge to somewhere on the bridge to nowhere trail

Swan Rock about 3 miles into the canyon

The trip to the bridge was easier than expected, even counting the 5 or 6 river crossings. The water level was low, but the river was flowing and it is undoubtedly harder when the water is high. I thought more route finding was going to be required, but solid trails were available on one side or the other all the way. About 3 miles in, we spotted the "swan rock" formation from different colored rock strata in the canyon wall. When we finally arrived at the bridge, another group was there taking pictures and resting. We had them snap a photo of us and we returned the favor. Then, we continued past the bridge and found a way down to the river for our rest stop. Noel and Tom waded in the river and enjoyed the water, while I was content to stay dry and eat some snacks. After a while, I decided to head back on my own so I would have time to explore the Allison Gulch a little. I bid Noel and Tom farewell and got back on the trail.

Noel and Tom on the bridge

Looking down from the bridge

The three bridge amigos

Looking back at the bridge from the river

After crossing the bridge on return, I spotted two bighorn sheep climbing a cliff on the west side of the canyon. I did my best to grab some photos, but the sun was in an unfavorable location and made for some poor shots. It's hard to believe my good luck this year with bighorn sheep, following my other close encounter on the Cucamonga hike. Several hikers stopped to watch with me, and I passed the news of their presence along to the next group I saw. I sped up after leaving the sheep, only to get blocked on the single track by group of slow and oblivious teens. When the trail widened, I sprinted past them and jogged most of the way to the Allison Gulch junction. I went straight up the gulch, but veered left to a use trail I spotted right away. I followed the trail until it vanished back into the gulch. Not far up the gulch, there was a single backpack/camp set up but no one was around. I wandered up the gulch a short distance looking on both sides for any sign of use trail or switchback. My GPS was beeping to warn me about losing sat lock, which caused unusual spikes in the track. I called off my exploration of the gulch early since I needed to get back for some family business. Looking at the track later, I realized I had not gone nearly far enough up the gulch to find the trail to Allison Mine. It would have to wait for another trip. A couple warned me of this rattlesnake hiding in a crack in this rock just off trail. I hope for the rest of the days hikers, he stayed right there.

Mr. bighorn wonders how I move with only two feet (top right)

King of the bighorn sheep

The king surveys his realm

Every San Gabriel hike seems to have a rattlesnake this year. This one was hiding in a crack.

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