How Lake Hodges Bridge Reveals the Drought in California

As you may already know, California has been suffering from quite a severe drought for several years already. Many areas are already quite arid by nature, so much of California has been particularly dry. The Lake Hodges resevoir has also been affected and the waterline has receded tremendously. Right now, I don’t think we will have to worry about anyone illegally fishing from the bridge, though the warning signs remain.

Lake Hodges Pedestrian Bridge

The Lake Hodges Pedestrian Bridge is a bridge near the Californian city of Escondido, United States. My dad and I went to see the bridge in October and explored a some of the hiking trails nearby. My parents and I were staying in Escondido whilst exploring San Diego County. I googled the area and found a few cool places I wanted to visit, including this bridge!

Construction started in February 2007 and the bridge was eventually opened in May 2009. The Lake Hodges Pedestrian Bridge is currently the longest stress ribbon bridge in the world. The bridge stretches across the Lake Hodges reservoir, which supplies water to San Diego County. The bridge’s official name is  the “David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge”. It was named after David Kreitzer, who was a long-time San Dieguito River Park volunteer and civic activist.

Stress Ribbon Bridge

The 10 million dollar bridge consists of concrete segments and is reinforced by steel tensioning cables. There are only 4 stressed ribbon bridges in the entire western hemisphere, including the one above the Lake Hodges reservoir. The pedestrian bridge runs parallel to an older freeway bridge, but the new stress ribbon bridge is much safer for cyclists and hikers. Apparently there is also a geocache hidden close to the Escondido side of the bridge, although I wasn’t aware at the time, so I didn’t find it!

How the Bridge Reveals the California Drought

As you may have noticed, there is not much of the lake left underneath the Lake Hodges Pedestrian Bridge. When the bridge was completed in 2009 and the signs were put up, there was still water underneath the bridge.

This is what it looked like in February 2015:

The lake water hasn’t quite returned, but at least it looked a lot greener when I was there than it did in February. Of course, the difference in greenery is also influenced by the change of seasons, so there may not have been a significant change. The lake was only at about 38% capacity in May 2015. The last two times Lake Hodges reached full capacity was during the spring of 2011 and 2005. On average, Lake Hodges fills up about once every four years.

Habitat Regrowth

These photos were taken after my dad and I crossed the bridge towards the Escondido side. This is what we saw on the other side. Those blue thingies that look like a type of cone are actually habitat regrowth areas (according to my sources). We could see young cacti plants sprawling far and wide. We then continued left and found what’s left of the lake. If you take a (very) close look at the last photo, you many be able to spot some of the water in the distance! We decided to return to our car (and my mother waiting inside) after about 15 min of hiking, mainy because we were practically swimming in our own sweat. Never go on spontaneous hikes unprepared!

Sources: [1] [2] [3]

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