There is something about going under a bridge while paddling. It is a mark of progress. A reward for moving forward along the river. A place to start, turn around and finish. I can't remember how many times I thought to myself, to the bridge and back when out paddling.
Bridges are important to every paddler. I don't know anyone who can pass over a bridge either big or small without looking over the edge and checking the water level or swiftness in the current. My next thought usually is, I can't wait to paddle there.
Going under bridges adds a special appeal to me. To see a world, that everyone is traveling to fast to see. A place in a shadow. The coolness eclipsing me while going under the bridge deck. It's welcome escape from the hot sun. A place to sit in the shade and rest for a bit.
Nature and industry intersect at these places. I will hear the rumble of the traffic above and see concrete or mental projections off to the sides and just under the surface of water. In urban settings, I find bridges underneath's spray painted with graffiti or littered with makeshift homeless campsites.
On the American River Parkway I had paddled upstream and back from Discovery Park. I started underneath the Jibboom Street Bridge. A swing bridge from days gone by that now enjoys light traffic in its park setting. Upstream, I paddled by two railroad bridges and a former railroad bridge, reserved for bikes and pedestrians. After passing the I-80 bridge, I turned back into the flow of the river.
All in all, I passed under 7 bridges on that paddling day. Each one working as landmark along the way. Each one giving me a distant horizon to paddle for. To the bridge and back.