Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bridge to Nowhere – February 12, 2011

Stats: 10 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Special: Bungee jumping option at the Bridge
Attendance: Dad (Mike), Jeremy, Andrea, Candice, Susan and me

“No Vertical Limits” is my dad’s slogan for the year. When Jeremy mentioned that he found a place to go bungee jumping off a bridge my dad jumped (pun intended) at the chance. Apparently there is only one place you can jump off a bridge in California, legally. Bungee America ( is the company who owns the bridge and runs the bungee operation. The location is the Bridge to Nowhere, East San Gabriel River, Azusa, Ca. The twist, as if you need a twist when going bungee jumping, is that it is a 10 mile roundtrip hike to the bridge. And not just a normal hike for 10 miles, but a hike where you will have to cross the river 6 times. And you will have to cross it, there is no saving the shoes, you will get wet. But we knew all this going in and that was half the adventure, the anticipation of it.
Candice and myself were the only two who were not planning on jumping. The rest of the group signed up. We originally were slotted to start the hike at 7:30am. But they called Jeremy and ask if he would like to move our group up to the 6am group since they were completely booked. Jeremy of course said yes. Those of us from Fresno, drove down Friday night, getting to Azusa by 9:30pm, where Susan met us at the hotel. We immediately went to bed since we would have to be up at 5am the next morning in order to get to the trailhead on time.
Morning came too soon but we got up and going and out the door on time. The start of the trail is at the end of the East San Gabrielle Road, which puts you pretty far up the Azusa canyon area. When we arrived at the trail head it was still dark. It took them a good 30 minutes to get the group oriented and all the paperwork in order. Then we headed out on the trail. It was a nice meandering trail that followed the river most of the way with only a slight elevation rise until the last half mile. We definitely got our shoes wet. But before the really river crossing we came to a section of the rock where if you climbed along a granite wall, very carefully, you could avoid getting our shoes wet. And like the lemmings we were we did it and it was exhausting work. Let me just say that on the trip back I laughed at how silly that was and how much energy we could have saved by just wading the shallow area next to the granite wall. But what did we know at the time, not much. In the main part of the river the water was flowing so deep and fast that they asked us to cross in pairs, we would grab the other person’s backpack and kind of get some leverage as we crossed the river. The water was really cold too. We got to do that 3 times at the way there and 3 on the way back of course. The only part that really goes uphill a lot is at the end when you reach the last half mile and you have to go up about 500 feet to reach the bridge. What a magnificent sight the bridge is and such an anomaly. The history is, back in the 1920s one of the work crews created by Roosevelt built a road through the canyon. Unfortunately, some flood water washed away the road but the bridge remains. When we arrived at the bridge they sat everyone down and gave a rundown of the rules and the basics of bungee jumping. Then the group was up and going. We all took turns taking pictures of everyone bungee jumping. It was quite an event. By the time everyone had jumped the 7:30 group was arriving. I was really happy that we had gone to the early group because this group was double the size of ours. And that also meant that by 11:30 we were hiking back to the car. This was on our own, so we did get a little lost because there is an area where a lower bridge used to be, but the place to cross the river is not very clear so we ended up wandering around trying to find a good place to cross. But other than that we made it back to the car in one piece.
We decided a nice fatty lunch at The Hat was just what we needed after that hike and jumps. So we filled up on pastrami sandwiches and chili cheese fries. Then we were off back to Fresno. We were home with plenty of time to shower and get to bed early. It was perfect.