There be gold in them there hills…

…but we didn’t find any.

So I got a message on Facebook last night from my new Couchsurfing buddy inviting me to join her and a friend of hers on an excursion. Didn’t know where we’d be going, but of course I wanted to go.

Turns out we were going up into the San Gabriel mountains to find something called the Bridge to Nowhere. Sounds suitably mystical and ancient, right? It certainly proved elusive.

U NO DAM HERE

This sign greeted us at the car park before the hiking began. In case you can’t make it out, it reads:

Please do not build dams in the river. Building dams in the river can be harmful to fish and aquatic life in the stream. Water temperature increases if it is not allowed to flow freely. This can kill the fish and aquatic life and at the same time it increases the levels of bacteria and algae. Please do not build dams in the river.

Now I’m not sure, but I suspect we’re not allowed to build any dams in the river. There are rumours it may do some kind of harm to the fish. This was of great disappointment to me as many an hour during my childhood growing up in the countryside was spent building dams across streams and rivulets for purposes unknown. Possibly porpoises.

We started a trek down a river canyon in search of the Bridge to Nowhere that my friend had read about online. Spoiler alert: we didn’t find it.

The canyon we were hiking through was at some point long ago a huge river, but the water certainly wasn’t very high when we were passing through. Apparently, although we saw very little evidence for this, the canyon used to have a road trail, and possibly a railway through it as well. I found this incredibly hard to believe given how much trouble we had walking it, and we are not the size of a train.

It was a lovely hike of about two hours, involving several precarious crossings of the river. We were balancing on wobbly trees while trying not to fall in, and at one point dealing with a very stubborn grass hopper guarding his particular crossing. At that point, we met a couple of hikers coming the other way back down the canyon. We asked them if they’d managed to find the bridge and they had, but they told us it was still another two hour walk from where we were. The sun was already on its way down, so we decided that we weren’t going to make the bridge sadly.

Since we were walking through an old riverbed covered in rocks, it seemed like building one of those rock pile statues was, you know, the thing to do. I played Tetris a lot as a child. As you can see below – it paid off, with change. Another curious thing we kept finding as we were making our way through the canyon was people looking for gold. They had many different bits of equipment with them, but they were all sifting through the mud and silt at the bottom of the river trying to find gold. Given the sheer number of people doing this, there must be some kind of success to be had with this. Or they’re all crazy people. Both possible, I suppose.

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We decided not to get stranded half way up a mountain, down an inaccessible canyon with the sun setting, so we turned around and headed back to the car. Not before a quick shot with the statue we left, though. This couchsurfing thing is an excellent way to meet people.

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