Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Tunnels to Nowhere

Halloweener #2

(GPS: N 34° 14.050 W 117° 46.250)

Two years ago I did a write up of my hike to the Bridge to Nowhere (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). This hike is similar in that the fate of the the destination brings you to "nowhere." It was around that time two years ago that the teenager series, Lonelygirl15, had a few incidents in this area. People were looking at maps, saw "Tunnels to Nowhere" marked, and it creeped them out. I never saw it, but some fan made some disturbing "horror" like videos nearby that had a bunch of people talking about these tunnels. Whether they were these tunnels or some of the water "caves" nearby I do not know. I had read about the area, but had never been here so I decided to check it out.
The gps coordinates above get you to the trailhead. Like the Bridge to Nowhere, which is nearby, but at a lower elevation, these tunnels are in the Angeles National Forest. You go up the San Gabriel Canyon above the East Fork River. The trailhead is on Shoemaker Canyon Road.

This is not a dramatic uphill hike. You do get in a few hundred feet of elevation on a graded dirt road. When all is said and done, you can get in and out on this hike in just a few hours; 2-3 for most people. The first tunnel is about 2 miles from the trailhead. It is what you see above. Notice the year listed below on the top of the tunnel:
You would think that people would have learned from the failure of the Bridge to Nowhere that creating a road out here would not work either. The idea was a road was to be created that went through to the desert. In the case of atomic attack on Los Angeles this road would be used as an emergency evacuation for the people of the nearby area to take the stress off of the other roads assuming they were still around.
The tunnel was dark on this morning because we were they early. The flash from my camera lit it up, but further on ahead it got dark. You could see the end of the tunnel though. On the way back it was not so bad and I did not need to use my flashlight. We came out on the other side and continued.
The trailhead and slight elevation change is much higher than the Eastfork River. So, the mountains were higher than us and surrounding us, but we had great views below us. The Bridge to Nowhere hike was done below in the canyon of this picture. If you look to the lower right of the picture, then you would see where I was at some point two years ago. The second tunnel is not too far from the first one. It was marked "1964."
It too was a tunnel of a few hundred feet. Sometimes going through something dark like this you just wonder what type of life you may encounter in something like this. Some wild animal? Homeless? Mentally disturbed people? The living dead? We encountered nothing, but thoughts like that are in the mind since we were not too far from civilization.
We came out on the other side to this. The dirt-road is somewhat smaller. One could continue another two miles on it, but I had no desire too since the goal was just to reach and explore these tunnels.

What happened it that these tunnels were built between 1961-1964. However, the overall construction of the road was from about 1954-1969. They used convict labor to do it, but as time went on lack of money and environmentalists eventually stopped its building. Only hikers and bikers, not vehicles come back here. These tunnels are now relics of the Cold War era.