28 June 2017

Summer Adventure: Bridge to Nowhere

On Saturday we hiked to Bridge to Nowhere, and I thought it was an awesome adventure!  We got up at 4:30am, and drove away from the house by about 5:20, we parked and got everyone sun-screened and got on the trail just before 8:00am.  When we arrived at the trailhead there was a large group there all hiking together for bungee jumping at the bridge, and we got ahead of that crowd, but then we stopped at the first river crossing to change into our water shoes and we got right in the middle of all of them.  It reminded me of going horseback riding when you just have to follow along one right after another — so after a little while of doing that we stopped at the stream for a little break so the kids could get wet and we could lose the crowd of hikers.  Once we got back on the trail, the whole rest of the hike was much better — we passed the occasional small group of hikers, but it was much fewer people on the trail than I expected from what I had read about Saturday crowds there.  This trail is long compared to many of the hikes we have done, but there’s not much elevation gain, so it wasn’t too challenging.  We passed a number of gold miners panning for gold in isolated locations along the river, many of them pretty far removed from the trailhead and the areas where most hikers passed by.  We did stop and chat with one miner who wasn’t far from the trail, because he had a dog that looked very similar to Harley — he said her name was “Pay Dirt,” and I thought that was pretty cute.  

After a while the trail rose out of the valley up onto a ridge, and since it was a hot day we started to feel the heat without much shade up there.  We were searching for a little known waterfall off the trail, and ended up adding an extra couple miles looping back down into the canyon to finally find it.  It would have been easy to miss, but we ended up in the right place.  The little canyon was filled with fig trees of all different sizes — I loved it, I’d never seen fig trees growing in the wild before, and I loved the smell of the trees & fruit (wish the figs had been ripe)!  The waterfall was refreshing and it was very green there with moss and ferns growing on the canyon walls around the water.  There were also a couple ropes tied up to climb up the rocks at the side of the falls, and I went and climbed those to get up to a point above the falls where I could see down into a round pool right above the falls.  After eating lunch and exploring the remains of some kind of stone structure built into the side of the canyon wall, we headed back up river to the bridge.  


Found it!

A rope leading up the side of the canyon . . . 

A second rope up higher . . . 

From this look-out point I could see down below to a round pool at the top of the falls

We walked through & alongside the river the rest of the way instead of going back to find the trail.  This was fun, especially as we found some larger swimming spots as we got closer to the bridge.  I loved that the water was so clear & the pools of water in the river were a beautiful turquoise-blue color.  

There were some seriously huge yucca plants there!

Harley swimming

We headed up to the bridge, found a place to rest, and we all jumped from the rocks into the little pools.  The boys also laid out on a rock in the sun to dry off, and some of them actually slept for a while.  There were several little pockets of groups of people sitting along the stream or jumping in in different spots, but they were generally spread out.  It probably helped that we didn't arrive to the bridge until sometime around 3:30 or 4:00, but it was really much less crowded there than I expected.  (And the bungee jumpers had all packed up an left before we got to the bridge, so we didn't get to watch the bungee jumping, but we also didn't have to deal with the crowds that were there for that).  

Afterwards we made our way upstream, hoping to get to the area we had seen on google maps called “The Narrows.”  We were a little pressed for time, knowing how long it would take us to make our way back to the trailhead and not wanting to be hiking in the dark after such a long day on the trail.  Isaac got stung by a wasp, but we kept making our way upstream and enjoying little jumps into pools long the way.  We came around a corner and I startled a baby big horn sheep that was in a rock outcropping near the river, about 10 feet away from me.  I rushed to try to get my phone out of my pack to take a picture, and unzipped one pocket to find that it was in a different pocket — when I finally got it out the little guy had already run out of sight up the hill — too bad.  It was adorable — it looked a lot like a cute little miniature goat, except it was all a tan color.  Went continued upstream a bit, but Camden was starting to get tired and Michael’s knee was starting to bother him, so when Camden got stung by a bee we decided to head back (we’ll have to save the Narrows for another trip).  

We made our way back, walking back across the bridge, and this time we stuck to the trail instead of staying on the stream.  I think it was good that we ended up hiking back in the evening, because it would have been less comfortable in the heat earlier in the day.  It was a long hike back, and Michael was especially uncomfortable because of his knee.  But we eventually made it back to the car, all in one piece.  We got back to the car just after 8pm, so we were on the trail for about 12 hours.  I thought it was a great day overall.  Everyone was tired by the end — that was the longest hike our family has done so far.  Our GPS app ended up showing that we had done 932 feet of elevation gain, we were moving for 5 hours and 7 minutes that day, and we hiked for a total of 13.4 miles.  After we stopped for some food and made the drive home, it was around 11pm.  
The Bridge

This looks like a picture taken from a funny perspective to make the yucca plant look large and Camden look small,
but he's actually standing right next to it).

One of the few spots where we could see the remainder of the old washed out road along the trail.

One final dip in the water before the last stretch of the trail back to the car.

We made it!

I think that hike would be ideal for a weekend trip — maybe backpacking in and camping in one of the many nice spots that we saw along the hike.  (This map is just a little reminder for myself of the location of one of the idilic little camping spots we passed at about 5 miles in, on a shady little ridge overlooking the water).  
(This would be a great spot to backpack in and camp out).

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