07-Feb-2002 -- Bob and I looked at the Confluence on the map, it was about 2–3 km off a tarmac road, major highway all the way, hey piece of cake, we said. So it was decided that we would visit 26N 45E on Thursday, February 7, 2002.
We met at the King Khālid Eye Specialist Hospital on Thursday morning. After fuelling up and having a breakfast of `Adas (spicey lentil type dip) and Tamīs bread at the local Arabic café, we headed out. We took a scenic route that took us south of highway 65, which is the most direct route to al-Ġāṭ, about 213 km from Riyāḍ, where the Confluence is located. The weather was nice and cold at 8 am, with little traffic and very nice scenery.
We arrived in al-Ġāṭ around 10:30 am and began looking for a route to the Confluence. Although we had maps that showed it near a tarmac road, neither of us could read Arabic road signs, so it was kind of trial and error for a while. We located a road that takes us in the desired direction and soon see a dirt track leading off in the direction we need to head. The GPS indicates we are approximately 4 km from the confluence point. Going in on the track I think Bob and I both "snapped" to the realization that we were going into an area with large hills and wādīs (dry waterways), which could spell trouble for our efforts. The dirt gravel track led us to and through the local dump area. We ended up about 1.2 km from the site, with a huge steep hill, where our pointer was pointing. After evaluating the situation and deciding that the 1.2 km would put us on top or over the steep incline we were looking at. We decided not to attempt it from this location.
So we backtrack to the tarmac road and continue on it till we see another tarmac leading in the correct direction and take it. On it we find another sand, gravel track leading off into another wādī. Since it would be taking us in the right direction, we took it. After driving a ways and getting to some high points to see if and where the track led, we finally ended up .40 km from the point and sure enough, another huge steep hill was facing us. Well, this was as far as we could drive, so Bob and I packed our cameras, water, etc. and headed up the incline. Finally reaching the top we discover this is a narrow hilltop, but feel the Confluence is located here. Well guess again. Bob is working with the GPS and we are now on the other edge looking down into another wādī. Bob tells me it is down there and points... ha... so here we go again. So we make it down into the wādī and guess what... yes ... you're right, it is not in the wādī but actually up the opposite side that we just came down. Lucky for us we located it three-quarters of the way up.
After a cool non-alcoholic beverage and the picture taking we head back. Thinking it may be easier to take the current wādī out, we soon encounter a steep drop-off, made by years of heavy water runoff, with no safe way down, and have to return the way we came.
We stopped by an old mud palace of some sort in al-Ġāṭ to take photographs. A local man, a doctor now, was escorting a German Consulate and his family around and welcomed us to join them. He informed us that this place used to be the local governors home and that one of the King's sons, Fahd bin Sa`ūd I think, was married in this palace. He invited us to dinner at the Governors home, but we had to decline and head back to Riyāḍ... Bet that was one heck of a meal we missed!