I mentioned in “Little Walks” that I had adventures within adventures while in California. A few days after I landed, I went hiking with a friend I’d never met, to find the Devil’s Gate Dam rumoured to be a portal to Hell made by Aleister Crowley… just your average day really. 😀
Bring it on…
Remember when meeting people on the internet was only for people who wanted to end up upside down in a wheelie bin? 😛 Devin and I had talked online for quite some time having ‘met’ through a mutual friend that I also haven’t met in person! As he does fifty million awesome things in the film industry and I spend half my time country-hopping, we never seemed to be in the same place at once. At last though, we met in Pasadena to trek to a canyon that looks like the devil. (Spoiler alert: It really does!)
As we wanted to see the place before it got dark, we decided to get as near as possible by taxi and hike the rest of the way. There were a few tunnels and bridges pointing in several directions at once but after a few quick looks at our satnav we found our way in. Technically this didn’t entail classic urbex sneaking- it’s near a hiking trail and we passed a couple of joggers, and while there was a sign warning against direct access through the wire fence, it was quite easy to get a bit confused and follow the private path down by accident. 🙂
I’d have loved to get down there too!
Did you know I nearly became a paranormal investigator? I’m more into UFOs and the cryptozoological side of things (e.g. do Thylacines/plesiosaurs/black panthers in England etc exist still?) rather than hauntings and ghosts but I still like a good story and rumour has it that the dam forms one point of the ‘Arroyo Triangle’; a centre for disappearances and strangeness. (The other two points being the Arroyo Seco ‘Suicide Bridge’ and the Cobb Estate).
A lot of people assume I love shows like Most Haunted but actually I find them bloody ridiculous*. Anything you do will feel spooky and scary when you do it in pitch black, by torchlight, talking about all the creepy things that have apparently happened before. That’s not objective- it’s setting a scene.
We took the ‘wrong’ way the first time we attempted to enter the gorge and found ourselves on the other side of the canyon from the tunnel we were aiming for, but the spot we ended up in was the best place to actually see the reason for the name! Here is is- a natural formation that just happens to look like the devil:
There was a serial killer (Mack Ray Edwards) who took children from the area in the 1950s and 60s, a young boy went missing here after a custody battle this year and there have been reports of suicides in the area but having scoured the papers, I can only conclude that the latter has been exaggerated. This place is dangerous by nature- water pools and steep slopes tend to be hazardous- but nothing that felt truly wrong.
Crowley did spend some time with L Ron Hubbard (founder of Scientology) in the area but there’s been no concrete proof that they regularly performed rituals here and even if they had, there’s been no concrete proof of the antichrist subsequently appearing here either! (Except for the devil shaped rock, and that was already there.)
The surrounding area did feel a little strange as it’s in a sunken gorge that feels quieter than it should be because it’s so far below the freeway. There was also what looked like an abandoned activity park or rope course and those things always look a bit disturbing.
See that metal ‘tube’ to the right? Hold that thought until the next picture.
So after taking in the wonderfully spooky view and a few minutes debate over whether we could reach the tunnel by crossing the pool, we decided we’d rather not risk ending up with wet everything and we’d do the ‘sensible’ thing… trying another route. We passed through the play park once again, climbed the hill and followed a set of footprints to the top of a vertical caged staircase- our way in.
The view from the top. We were concentrating so hard on not falling off that we only noticed there were hummingbirds when we reached the bottom and looked up to see what we’d climbed!
When we got to the ground, we heard some eerie laughter coming from the tunnel which turned out to be exploring studenty types. They were shooting a film- something that involved a mask and sitting on that rock in the middle of the pool, and we pretty much left each other to it after making our way down the tunnel to the very end like the Ghostbusters. It comes to an abrupt stop after a few metres and produces some very strange echoes which Devin had fun recording while I swung on the gate itself. (I’m posting weekly videos of my adventures on my YouTube channel).
Again, I wouldn’t want to spend the night in there (was it meant to keep something out or in?) but at the same time I wouldn’t want to spend the night on my own in a dark tunnel in a spot where children were murdered in any location!
As the sun began to set we made our way back out of the canyon, watched the sky turn pink, compared hilarious dating horror stories and found a little cul de sac to call a taxi from. It was such a fun trip for the chance to meet a new friend, explore something fascinating and walk around in nature for a bit, but as the darkness came down quickly it was time to return, make a fuss of Devin’s ridiculously adorable grey cat, and get back on a bus to Maee’s house.
I prefer to make up my own mind about a location before reading up on the hype. Websites describe the atmosphere as unsettling, mention “hanging ropes and symbols” (the play park), talk about odd sounds and shadows moving, and generally sound like the blurb for a horror movie. Had I read any of them in advance, I’m sure my reaction to the place would have changed- but that’s the nature of planting an idea, especially about a place that is somehow ‘special’. Going in armed with somebody else’s stories, we tend to want one of two things; to disprove every word or to be part of the ‘I saw it too’ club. There’s no way in hell I’d go here alone or recommend anyone else do- for reasons of common sense (and that it is far easier to creep yourself out when you’re alone) but while I’m not convinced of true paranormal events happening here, Devils Gate Dam is a place that has serious potential to creep you out. Given time and solitude I could certainly have found you a shadow that moved- if only in my own head.
* I once watched part of an episode where three presenters practically scared themselves into a coronary, reaching a high pitched shriek as one of them found ‘a steady waft of cold air’… and then realised it was the air conditioning vent. I laughed until I cried.