If you’ve read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed or seen the namesake movie, you likely remember the iconic bridge with the poetic name where Cheryl’s thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) ends after a 94-day trek and 1,100 miles. Aptly named “The Bridge of the Gods“, this glorious white metal bridge stands amidst a backdrop of green mountains, spanning the Columbia river at the Oregon-Washington border.
On a recent road trip through Portland in Oregon to view fall colors, I happened to drive past a signboard proclaiming to be the “Bridge of the Gods Trailhead“. Having never been to this part of Oregon before, I pondered why this name sounded so familiar. A mile past the exit, it all came to me as I recalled the iconic bridge where Cheryl Strayed finishes her self-imposed hike and discovers hope, joy and freedom on a bridge with a remarkably fitting name.
I couldn’t believe my luck that I had just stumbled onto this interesting location so crucial to Cheryl Strayed and her memoir Wild. Hiking the PCT is on my life list to do sometime in the future, but for now I was excited that I could visit the famous bridge and walk in Cheryl’s footsteps. Taking the next exit, I circled back to the Bridge of the Gods and after paying the bridge toll of a couple dollars I drove slowly across on the shiny white metal bridge.
With a backdrop of blue skies and lush green mountains, it was easy to see why this bridge inspired Cheryl so much. Views on either side of the bridge are breathtaking, absolutely vast and glorious. Suitably named, the Bridge of the Gods truly seemed like a place where Gods would love to reside, with sweeping views of Oregon-Washington’s mountain ranges and a roaring Columbia river below.
Driving to the other side, I took a U-turn to drive back. Yes, paying the toll again, I wanted to go back on the bridge and savor the views and sense the same hope, joy and freedom Cheryl Strayed experienced when she ended her 1,100 mile thru-hike on the PCT at this very place. There was no time or space to stop and walk on the bridge though, especially since there was a long line of cars driving across the bridge from both directions. Whether they were wide-eyed travelers like myself or everyday locals going about their business, I can’t say. But one thing was certain. They were all driving slowly and taking their time, looking on both sides of the bridge, breathing in the fresh Pacific Northwest air, soaking up the autumn sunshine and hopefully finding renewed joy and happiness in themselves.