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The trip to the Bridge to Nowhere was actually plan B. The original plan was to hike up to Mt. Baldy for Jamie’s birthday. As my family and I traveled down to their home on a Friday evening we received a message from my brother. He too was also going to attend the trip and informed us a wildfire started below Mt. Baldy. The fire was contained within a couple hours and the next morning CHP had blocked off the road. Thus plan B was put into action on the fly. The change did add some additional driving time. Good thing we started 30 minutes earlier then planned. From the trailhead the hike was going to be about 10 miles round trip.
Once we arrived at the parking area, we put on our packs and began the hike up the canyon. The trail follows a road that takes people down to a creek crossing. In 1938 a flooding event damaged various parts of the road. Thus this road was “converted” into the trail we were on. Anyway the weather was cool and we were in the shade. It was a perfect time for hiking and not warm at all. We made some good time hiking along the path.
After about a quarter to half a mile we arrived at a flat bench like area. It appeared to be a primary camping spot at one time. Maybe even an old location of a Forest Service station. Now people have to pack in a little bit to camp and another trail, Heaton Flat Trail, goes east up the mountain. We continued north along the East Fork Trail for another 4.2 miles to our final destination.
The trail eventually went down along side the river, which the temperatures dropped even more. We were talking pretty much the entire time so far and really enjoying the hike. The shade from the mountains kept us out of direct sunlight. Soon we arrived at the first major crossing. It looked liked the road went here at one point and then up on a terrace on the other side. The trail did the same but went even higher out of the riparian area. One could hear the sounds of the river moving along, a slight breeze here and there in the trees, and us continuing to chat away.
The trail moved back down to the river and this time the second crossing was different. There were remnants of bridge abutments on the edge and in the middle of the river. I believe at one point there was a fully constructed bridge, but no longer. It was neat to see them and providing a window into the past of what this “highway” was going to look like. Anyway, the crossing was easy and we continued up the trail.
The hike was still very pleasant regarding temperature. We continued to make great time as we proceeded further up the drainage. We did see others along the way as this is a very popular trail. There were also some people out sampling the river at various spots. Not sure if it was the Forest Service or researchers from the colleges adjacent to this mountain range. Either way, everyone was polite and would at least say good morning as we passed by.
Along our hike we came across a small wooden foot bridge. We did not expect it and just behind it was a wilderness sign. Stopping for a quick photo, we posed by the Sheep Mountain Wilderness sign. I was pretty excited about that as I had never been to this wilderness area before. We were all still doing great and continued on. Another surprise to all of us lay just ahead.
The area has a lot of yucca plants growing here and there. They tend to be on the drier and rockier areas. The trail went through another patch of them, but this time was different. We saw a yucca plant as tall as me. I had to pose for a photo to show family back home. Of course, Jamie had to take one too next to a smaller one to mock me. We all laughed and continued on.
Time passed and as the sun rose up higher into the sky, the shadows from the mountains receded. We were soon on the edge of light and shadow. Before going on, Jeremiah walked up to the edge for a pose. Both Jamie and I took some panoramic photos to capture this moment as well as how grand everything was around us. Heading into the sun, Jeremiah was concerned about not having a hat. He forgot it back at his house.
Jamie had an idea to help my brother out. She had another moisture wicking long sleeve shirt she was not going to use. She lent it to him to wear and so he did. Then he became a sudo “ninja” along the rest of the hike. We even caught him in action as he leaped from rock-to-rock during a creek crossing. It was a good thing Jamie had the extra shirt because the trail was in the sun the rest of the trek until we arrived at the bridge.
After our crossing we followed up the floodplain of the river for a couple miles. We were now completely exposed in the sun. The trail went uphill to get back up to the road. It only took a minute our two to get up, but it really got the heart pumpin’ and our core temps went up. Once on top the former road cut-slope was still there. Mostly it was overgrown by vegetation with a narrow foot path. We hiked along and rounded the corner to return to shade and something else.
The shade returned for a time and soon we came to a sign. Here the sign warns hikers that they are entering private property and certain rules are to be followed. Next we were greeted by a few people in climbing gear. They mentioned to stay off to the side of this ravine as a helicopter would be taking off. Also they asked if we could stop others from passing on the other side. Within a couple minutes we could hear the helicopter coming in. What surprised us was just how small it was. I was thinking of something much bigger, but it was a single seat aircraft. As it left, we continued on towards a bumping sound.
The bumping sound ended up being a DJ setup. Apparently there is a group that offers bungie jumping from the bridge. At the time of our hike, we were unaware that this event occurred regularly so we were surprised. The music was “bumping” along with the rhythm which did take away from the “wilderness” experience I am used to. It was almost like going back in time to when there were no national parks and businesses were exploiting every possible angle at a popular natural destination for a buck. It just took away from the natural setting. However, the bridge was still very well kept as we walked over it.
One across we could slowly hear less of the music and further proceeding down to the river, we didn’t hear it at all. Just the occasional jumper who would be screaming or yelling as they were suspended from the bridge. The hike down was easy and populated with a lot of people watching.
We enjoyed some food and a break in the shade. Jeremiah had a loaf of bread to eat while Jamie packed in some ravioli, which was delicious. I had a Bobo Bar to eat while we just relaxed. As we left we did have a little fun pretending to be a famous outdoors men climbing “dangerously steep” cliffs. Jeremiah did that and we angled the cameras to make it look steeper than it actually was in reality.
It was now time to head back and so we climbed out of the ravine. As we approached we snapped another photo of the person jumping from the bridge once more. The music had returned and after the jump was complete we passed by only to another surprise that really made the day for all of us.
On the way back we saw a few people looking up high towards the top of the ridge behind us. They noticed us walking up to them and told us to look up. We turned and low and behold, we saw a Big Horn Sheep. He was looking down on all of us and posed perfectly with the sun shining on him. We took a few photos and told others who arrived. We then proceeded back to our vehicle.
Once again we were back in the sun. This time the temperature was warmer, but we knew how far we needed hike to the shade. Granted, there would not nearly be as much, but it would be cooler once back down near the river. We were actually moving faster at this point too. Hydrated and full of energy from lunch, our pace was fast.
Our conversation continued to keep going on our way back too. We talked about old memories, health, backpacking, future hikes, family, and so much more. It was a great time to catch up more and more. Actually we had not done a “cousins” hike for about 25 years. Crazy huh?
As we greeted other people, the trail left the wilderness and was back to crossing rivers. We enjoyed the crossings, followed the trial up high in the sun, and was soon back on the old road. We knew we had about 1/2 a mile left and we would be back to the vehicle. As we arrived, Jamie opened up a cooler where we enjoyed homemade veggie patties, veggie chips, edamame hummus, and other snacks. It was a great hike and a good time hanging out. Now it was back to the city to enjoy more time with all of our families together.