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Old 05-13-2011, 01:44 PM   #1
Ridge OP
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Revisiting an old haunt from my youth

Posted this a couple years ago on another forum, but I just re-read it and thought it was amusing enough to share with the inmates.


So, I left work yesterday afternoon determined to get a pic of my bike either next to or over a river. My first destination was an old mill lake that had been dammed up back in the 1800s and the river split three ways after the dam. The old mill has been restored into a very unique and cool apartment/condo complex nestled in this little mill town about 10 miles south of the city.
http://rivermillvillage.com/lofts%20and%20apts.html
If I were looking for a place to live, this would be at the top of the list, but I digress.

I knew there was a trail between the rivers that led down to the bank. What I did not anticipate was the muck left by Hannah and the sheer stupidity of some 4WD cagers tearing up a good trail.

When I arrived at the trail, I was greeted by this:


Just to give you an idea of scale, I stepped back for a wider shot:

Seeing as how I had noone with me in the likely event I got the KLR stuck, I opted for a new destination. I will visit this one again.

I decided to head back towards home and see if I could still gain access to Goat Island. I'm not real sure why it's called Goat Island. I have only been there twice in my life and never once saw a goat. Maybe it's from all the pagan symbolism in various hues of Krylon that were cause for the moniker? Who knows?

My first visit here was about 20 years ago as a young lad of only 13. Back then, it was a feat of moral integrity and character building that one was to cross the bridge to goat island in the dark on foot and spend the night without escape or leaving the island in fear. Essentially it was a double-dog dare and you were a chicken if you backed out. You know, good old kid stuff.

Some friends and I took our bikes down to the bridge late one Saturday night and stood there completely motionless scared stiff! We had spent the usual amount of time building this place up as if it were the seventh circle of Hell and on the exact moment you stepped foot off the bridge, onto the island, the bridge would collapse into the river never to be seen again! You know, one of those places.

We stood there transfixed by the monstrosity of a dilapidated, rusty metal bridge. Not only were most of the guard rails missing from the sides, but the entire surface of the bridge was formed from metal plates with stamped circular holes in them so you could see the river flowing over the rocks about 20 feet underneath.

I had humbly accepted the dare and was now at the pinnacle of my decision. My friends were trying to nudge me onward. I kept my composure and trembled my feet all the way across the monster bridge. Of course, I kept my bike with me in the event a hasty retreat was necessary. :whistling:

Finally stepping foot back on solid ground, I waited a few seconds for the inevitable collapse and sounds of twisted, crashing metal behind me. When nothing happened, I moved forward at a snail's pace until my eyes adjusted to the darkness. Of course, by now I realized how smart it would have been of me to be wielding a flashlight, but hindsight is always perfect, no?

I was under a full moon, so the night sky and brightness were of some relief. I could see nothing more than old ruins of houses and foundations that once stood many years ago. Not much else to see out there except the shadows that moved at every turn and the sounds of night animals bounding through the brush. I stayed until my heart and mind could take no more. At what I would guess was the 15-20 minute mark, an animal (at least I convinced myself it was) jumped not more than a few feet from my position. I nearly crapped my pants trying to beat feet in the opposite direction. My bike was being non-cooperative, so I just ran as fast as my shoes would take me and pushed the bike alongside.

My friends were still standing there on the other side pitching rocks into the river. As soon as they saw me scrambling across the bridge, I truly believe they were more scared than I was. A couple of them tripped and stumbled backwards trying to get to their bikes. I don't remember exactly what I was screaming, but it must have had an effect, since we were on our bikes and out of there within sheer seconds.

I never revisited goat island again, until yesterday. I took the KLR down the old crumbled road. Disrepair and 4WD vehicles had taken a hard toll on the road surface. The asphalt had been washed away; ruts and 15 foot long trenches were all that was left to navigate around. I made my way to the edge of the bridge skirting along the outsides of all the mud holes I encountered.

I had stayed dry and was quite proud of myself until I reached the last mud hole at the bridge's edge. Only a small clearing of dirt was available to get the KLR by. I thought briefly about going through the mud, but some of the 4WD guys tend to throw sticks, bricks, rocks and anything else they can pick up to give traction and fill in deep ruts. I did not want to risk a flat or worse since I was alone. I made it almost all the way around this hole when my mind lapsed for a second. I was looking at the edge of the bridge and trying to figure out if it was sturdy enough to hold the weight of the KLR when my balance shifted. I stalled for a split-second thinking, "oh sheit, this is gonna suck!" Over to the right I went with no solid ground to place my foot. By the time I got my foot down, I was knee deep in muck and muddy water. My right hand sunk about a foot into mud and the bike was half submerged at the handlebars. I jumped up as I realized the camera was in the right jacket pocket. I stood the bike back up and checked out everything for function. All was good, just a mess luckily. All this for a simple picture by a river!

Well, I got the bike onto the bridge and snapped a couple of pics. I decided to not tempt fate any further by actually crossing the bridge this time. I'll go back when I have someone else with me in case anything else decides to happen. So, without further delay, here is the infamous bridge of every 13 year old kid's nightmares.



The mud hole that tried to swallow me before the bridge:

My wife's not gonna be happy trying to wash these:

A few more pics of the bridge and bike:




Mmmmmm, muddy water on the bike!


Look ma, no guardrail:


Surface grating of the bridge; very creepy and unsettling!

Ridge screwed with this post 05-14-2011 at 05:16 AM
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Old 05-14-2011, 04:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ridge View Post
So, without further delay, here is the infamous bridge of every 13 year old kid's nightmares.

And now mine too...

Great story though! Thanks for posting it up.
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:26 PM   #3
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Cool story. I can relate to the solo rides on a KLR. Many a time have I come to a spot in the trail where I've opted to turn back and try again another day when I've got a partner. That's a pretty neat bridge and I can only imagine how spooky it must have been to a young teenager in the dark with his friends egging him on!
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Old 05-15-2011, 02:05 AM   #4
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Cool! Some history on the bridge decking..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsden_Matting

"As they were made from steel with a high manganese content, the matting was also highly resistant to corrosion"
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Old 05-15-2011, 06:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katbeanz View Post
Cool! Some history on the bridge decking..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsden_Matting

"As they were made from steel with a high manganese content, the matting was also highly resistant to corrosion"
Very cool, thanks for the history lesson! That makes a lot of sense now that I see where the decking originated. Camp Mackall is only a couple of hours from here.

Also got curious and looked up the ownership of goat island. Seems it is owned by some investment company out of Florida now.

Just for a bit of scale, the island is over a mile in length:



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