This photoshows the very knowledgeable, Don McLaurin, giving some last minute guidelines to one of the group participants, shortly before we started our trek across the Golden Gate Bridge in California.
The experience was part of Road Scholar program ( roadscholar.org ) #21900CGT that I participated in April 7-12, 2019. The program was called "Hiking the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods and Point Reyes". We are standing in the parking lot that is provided near the pedestrian entrance, on the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge.
From the parking lot, walkers go down stairs to a passageway beneath the bridge surface, and slightly elevated from the stone embankment that makes up the edge of the land mass.
The passage way under the bridge makes a turn to the left near the end, which leads out to steps that will take the walker up to the entrance of the pedestrian walkway of the Golden Gate Bridge. All these measures are necessary because pedestrians are only permitted to walk on ONE side of the bridge---not both.
I took this photo to show the extensive labyrinth of steel girders that forms the support for the base of the bridge, while it is still passing over land.
Most readers will recognize this as Alcatraz Island, which was once the home of notorious prisoners. It is now visited by thousands of people who are NOT prisoners, but rather taking a tour of the facility through the National Park Service.
As the walker gets closer to the San Francisco side, they will be able to recognize the familiar sight of the Coit Tower, which is located atop one of San Francisco's famous hills.
I took this photo to give the reader a sense of how close the pedestrians are to the car traffic. We were given strict instructions to stay as close to the railing as possible on the left side of the walkway, leaving the rest of the enclosure for the use of bicyclists. Don also reminded us to NOT mindlessly step out of line to take a photo, or we might get an unexpected bump from a bicycler pedaling up from behind us. We were told to look BOTH ways, before stepping to the right to take a photo. Since Don has been leading these programs quite some time, I can only assume he was speaking from experience from a previous program!
This is a photo of one of the areas of the pedestrian walkway that expands a bit, to facilitate folks stopping to get a closer look at their surroundings, regroup, take photos, etc.; in the photo you can see the red rectangle hanging on the front of Don's jacket. That is the sound transmitter that he used throughout our trek, so that he could be talking to us as we walked across, and we could hear him, in spite of the deafening noise of traffic beside us. Each of the Road Scholar participants had a listening device in our ear, that made this possible.
We made our trip across the bay on a weekday, and saw a few pleasure boats, such as this sailboat, taking advantage of a very windy day!
When we reached the San Francisco side of the bridge, Don led us through a plaza that had a metal replica of the bridge we had just walked across. The visual aid helped us understand the physics principles, that made this historic structure such an engineering marvel. Likewise, there were explanatory placards scattered all around the plaza that interpreted views that could be seen from various locations, and told interesting facets of the bridge's construction. The plaza also had food and beverage concessions, gift kiosks, and restrooms.
Bicycling across the bridge is very popular, and bikes are available for rent near the pedestrian entrances. Because there are no license or skill requirements necessary to rent a bicycle, it is another reason our leader told us to be on the constant lookout for an inexperienced bicycler, as we were traversing the walkway.
Notice the large orange backpack Don is wearing? In case one is wondering why that is necessary, it is because he is a very prepared, and organized leader. It had extra batteries and listening devices, in case one of his participants needed it mid-hike. Likewise, he carried first aid supplies, and participant's emergency contact information
This photo shows that we had an absolutely beautiful, sunshiny day to walk across the bridge, without a cloud in the sky!
This view is seen from the pedestrian walkway, and would be puzzling for the uninformed. However, Don told us that the orange "arms" extending out over the water were to be the supports for a "suicide prevention net" that was currently under construction, on the bridge. It is said that the Golden Gate Bridge is a "suicide magnet" for some, and that about 500 people have jumped to their death since the bridge opened in 1937. Statistics say that 40 known people jumped to their death in 2016. The Bridge administration is spending $200 million to change that, as it works to get the suicide prevention net completed by 2021. It will extend over 1.5 miles of open water, and will be made of stainless steel mesh, located about 2o feet below the bridge, and stick out 20 feet from the edge of the bridge. A jumper could still crawl to the edge of the net to jump off again, although designers predict that the fall from the bridge surface to the net would incapacitate the person, allowing rescuers to retrieve them.
There are commercial tourist boats that take visitors out on the waters, and cruise them beneath the bridge. I was able to take one of those sightseeing cruises on past visits, and gave a big wave to the tourists I saw below in this boat, who were also waving up at me!
Besides tourist boats, there are plenty of commercial vessels, such as this container ship, that use the shipping lanes of the San Francisco Bay.
Once we had walked across the bridge in the afternoon, visited the San Francisco plaza side, and made our way back to the tunnel that would lead us to the Road Scholar van in the parking lot, we had completed four miles of bridge walking. Hurrah! I got my 10,000 steps in that day, since we had already walked four miles on the Marin hiking trails in the morning!
It has been said that the Golden Gate Bridge is the most photographed man-made structure in the world, and I know I certainly took more than my share of those photos during the week I visited the area! Seeing how the bridge provides a means to connect that which is separated, is a visual aid for me, reminding me of how Jesus is also a "bridge" to separate that which is separated. We as a people have become separated from a righteous God because of our sins. But Jesus came to take the penalty for our sins---to be the living sacrifice---that could form a "bridge" so that we could once again have fellowship with our Creator. The bridge Jesus provided is there for EVERYONE, but some will choose not to use the bridge that has been provided for us. Though this Road Scholar program, I made the choice to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Likewise, knowing that I have also made the choice to walk across the "Golden Grace Bridge" of salvation, that Jesus has provided, gives me MILES OF SMILES! Tricia