03 November 2012

bridge over Arroyo Hondo

I set out today to hike Dos Pueblos Canyon or Arroyo Hondo, but didn't end up at either.  There is an exit for Dos Pueblos, but turning down the actual road means coming to a sign saying, "Private Road, no thru traffic".  I have no idea what anyone would to "thru" or through on this road to.  It is supposed to go up the canyon a ways and stop.  A couple trucks passed me as I glared at the sign and my map, but neither felt much like helping.  The road did not look in particularly good shape and since I had a plan B, I thought I'd go with it.

Somewhere further is Arroyo Hondo.  I found Arroyo Hondo Preserve very soon after, sooner than expected in fact.  They do not want people coming in unannounced, though.  I was expecting a friendly parking lot with a trail opened about a year ago, this isn't it.  I continued along failing to find something promising or a sign to designate it.  I turned around and did something I've kind of been wanting to do for a while instead.

When traveling near Gaviota along the decidedly east-west section of highways 101 and 1, one often catches a glimpse of a huge bridge.  It is lower than the level of the freeway, so you can see the black top stretching across it.  This long narrow expanse once carried the traffic of the main route from Los Angeles to San Francisco and it is easy to visit, if you are traveling southbound, by getting off at a "vista point" that is directly east of it.  Park along the side and walk west to the bridge.

Old highway bridge over Arroyo Hondo.

The bridge has been left with no barriers of any kind and is still quite solid.  My childhood memories claim there was a sign here explaining its purpose for being, but that has been replaced with a sign about the fish ladder that has been built to allow the trout to come back to Arroyo Hondo.  (Ah ha!  A clue for finding the place next time, this is the canyon.)  A quick search confirms that there was a sign and adds that the bridge was built in 1918 and carried state route 2, a moniker for a very different road now.  I walked across the bridge and examined the ends for a date, but could not find one.  Although it was the whole highway once, the reflectors that remain hint that it became just southbound at some point.

Fish ladder.

I could look down directly to the fish ladder that is now the talk of the local signage.  The current highway rattles over a lot of fill and the stream went through a culvert previously.  In low water, there is not enough for the fish to swim through and in high water, the surge of water is too great to allow the trout to swim upstream.  Now that has been replaced with this series of pools so that the steelhead can return to this stream.

Gulls on the beach through the trestle bridge.

Of course, there is a vista at this vista as well.  The coast is quite spectacular.  Three islands can be seen: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel.  Today visibility is not as good as it could be, but the islands still peek out over the lower haze.  A small plane flew by eastward very, very low over the water, then returned westward.

The coastal view looking west.

Crossing the train tracks and looking down, there is a remnant of sea wall.  The high tide waves were crashing against it.  In one spot, they produced a geyser.  The splashes and the reflecting waves were fun to watch.  The foam makes different patterns where the water turns back.

A wave hitting the sea wall.  It forms, hits, splashes, and reflects into the next wave.

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