California, Lifestyle

Bungee Jumping Off the Bridge to Nowhere

bungee jumping

Bungee jumping was one of those bucket-list items that I desperately wanted to achieve. It’s not the same as skydiving, which I got to do while in Arizona four years later, but it’s still a rush. There was no better place to take that leap of faith than off the Bridge to Nowhere in the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains.

During summer break between my junior and senior year, I went to Baja, Mexico for a marine biology course. One of the individuals who went with us was a former student from my university. He attended the trip on an annual basis, helping out the professor and the teacher’s assistants. During a random conversation, I find out that he worked in a bungee jumping business and that piqued my interest.

Baja Dan, we called him, worked for Bungee America, at least at the time. I recall expressing my interest in getting a jump or two in when we got back to the States. We kept in touch, but it didn’t materialize until just after I graduated college a year later. We set up a date and time, and instead of hiking with a set group, my friend Gus Gus and I decided to hike on our own and meet with the group at the bridge.

It took us about an hour and a half  or two to get to the trailhead from our university. A permit is required to hike the trail and a pass was needed for my car. We looked for a place to buy a pass and couldn’t find it and instead parked the car to get going. (I ended up getting a ticket costing the amount for a pass and just paid it later, so it wasn’t a big deal.) After stocking up on water and filling up our CamelBaks, we took to the trail.

Built in 1936, north of Azusa, California in the San Gabriel Mountains, the Bridge to Nowhere is a 120 foot bridge in the Sheep Mountain Wilderness. The road leading to the bridge, called the East Fork Road, was washed out during a massive flood in March of 1938 and the project was abandoned. The bridge is still accessable via the East Fork Trail, which is 10 miles round-trip. It was May in Southern California, and it was hot. The trail was well marked and moderate in difficulty. We kept at the riverbed and ended up crossing the river five or six times while finding our way towards the bridge. I dont remember the hike too much…it was, after all, eight years ago. However, I do remember crossing paths with a rattlesnake and that my shoes and socks got wet on the way back.

When we got to the bridge, we met up with Baja Dan and his crew. There were a number of people that were jumping that day. Because the bridge is the only location in Southern California available for bungee jumping, and because Bungee America works on weekends, it was pretty busy. Because I was in a lower weight category, I had to wait a little while to jump and the crew had to change out the bungee cords to accomodate my smaller size. It was definitely worth the wait!

leap of faith

I did two beginner jumps: the Superman Front Dive and the Backward Plunge. Both involved a full body harness and they are exactly what they sound like. Oddly enough, my first jump was a lot easier than the second. I was hooked up in the harness and calmly climbed over the side of the bridge and stood on the platform. I don’t consider myself an extreme-sports adventurer, and I normally get a rush of adrenaline and a bit of anxiety prior to doing something new and different. But that increased heartrate, those clammy hands…never came. I was instructed that at the end of the countdown, I was to jump forward, reaching for a flag wedged in the rocks directly across from me.

3, 2, 1, BUNGEE!

And I jumped.

The feeling of freefall didn’t hit me until just before the I felt the pull of the cord stretching and I bounced back up. While only mere seconds, the jump felt like an eternity and I was brought back to reality once my gut caught up with me. It was exhilerating and I was pulled back up with a smile on my face. The second jump was a bit more nerve-racking. The Backward Plunge required me to stand on the platform and simply lean back and let gravity do the work. The feeling was the same, except the bridge got smaller as I rushed to the ground, only to feel the cord tighten and I bounced back up.

backwards plunge

The hike back was exhausting and Gus Gus and I were severely dehydrated after underestimating the length of the hike altogether. Despite that, it was an adventure. Bungee jumping gave me that high one can only find when stepping outside their comfort zone. It was exactly what I needed at a time when my life was just starting.

Bungee America has been around since 1989 and is the only Government Certified bungee jumping company in the state of California. They have an incredible safety record and the crew is very professional. Those interested in bungee jumping in California, this is definitely the company to go with.

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