The Easter weekend was a time of resurrection for me personally. The Tassajara Bridge was rebuilt by an extraordinary team of friends – faculty and alumni from CCA. Following fires and floods the bridge is now standing astride the Tassajara River again marking the transition from the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center to the Ventana Wilderness.
The bridge was designed by Richard LaTrobe Bateman when he was the Wornick Distinguished Visiting Wood Artist at CCA in 2005. I made a small catalog of the whole design, construction and then building of the bridge on site in 2005-6 which you can get here. This little book proved an invaluable guide to putting the Bridge back up again; as I was the only original crew member on site for the second coming of the Bridge and much water has passed under the metaphorical bridge since then.
2008 Basin Complex Wildfire from space
Russ Baldon and I took down the bridge in 2008 following the 2008 Basin Complex Wildfire (the third largest in Californian history). Thankfully a few hardy souls stayed on at Tassajara when the valley was evacuated to fight the fire. The bridge was outside of the zone protected by hoses and sprinklers but the crew there were mindful of it and thankfully it wasn’t damaged. Here’s a photo of the bridge immediately after the fire – photo by Judith Keenan.
Now that the valley has greened up again and the threat of major silt flows and flooding has passed I was asked to collect a team to restore and rebuild the bridge. I am always delighted to spend time at Tassajara and this time I was able to introduce 4 friends to this extraordinary community.
The Bridge Crew!
Shawn Hibma-Cronan - unbridled enthusiast
John Randolph - balletic yet powerful
Lawrence LaBianca - master of the redundant system
Moi - corporate memory
Russ Baldon - chief gabion engineer
Adrien Segal - the yellow-legged, blue billed, Tassajara segal.
Barbara Holmes - the barefoot Diva
and many visitors over the four days...
First we had to clear the site of all the new riverine regrowth.
The site awaiting the bridge.
Including our old friend and constant companion – Poison Oak.
Nice and red and juicy!
Next we had to make sure we still had all the bits.
Everything present and accounted for!
One team built a trestle to support the major beams mid-stream.
A worshipful thing!
The trestle in place, braced nicely against the far bank
A second team made needed repairs to the main beams with new material provided by Paul Discoe (who donated all of the original material for the bridge – Thanks Paul!!)
Many hands make light work.
Hi hooo!! Hi hooo!!!!
Lawrence busting a move, as we prepare to hoist the first beam into place.
Joining the three beams.
Once all three beams were atop the trestle we could join them together, attach the rigging and cross beams and raise the bridge with a chain hoist – I wish it had all gone as smoothly and quickly as this short little sentence! After a full day and a bit and a few setbacks we raised the bridge as the day faded to evening.
Thankfully at the end of every day we could look forward to delicious vegetarian meals and the best hot springs in California – to show us where our scratches were, to put the fear of poison oak contamination on us (it’s tricky finding the technu in the dark) and to soak out the stresses in our muscles.
The first portion is to end all evil...
Enjoying good food and good company.
By the fourth day we were ready for the footways.
More Hi Hooo!
Footway #1 in place.
Footway #3 lowered into place!
Then its was just tweaking turnbuckles, fitting handrails and cleaning up.
The rain started in earnest just at that moment – perfectly timed.
Mako, the Director of Tassajara, seemed pleased with the outcome.
And we were high as kites!
Barrows stacked under the eaves of the Zendo to keep dry
Rain dripping off the Zendo eaves being lapped up by the irises
"Cloud hidden ... whereabouts unknown"
Its always hard to leave.
Thank you Tasajara.
Thank you Bridge Crew!!