12-Apr-2015 -- The previous weekend we had visited the Trinity Site and had just missed being able to visit the Very Large Array Visitor Center.
On our way to Albuquerque we had visited 33N 110W and we came back a slightly different way, so we could visit our second confluence of the trip.
We spent a couple hours at the VLA Visitor Center in the morning and took dozens of incredible pictures along the self-guided tour. If you are ever in the vicinity of the VLA, you will want to take the time to visit!
We turned south off Highway 78 onto Brushy Mountain Road here and drove down the well maintained dirt road until we reached a small dirt road to the west here. This was just short of a gate. We decided that my wife would stay with the vehicle while I made the short hike to the confluence.
In my planning, I saw multiple roads leading towards the confluence. I started out with a slight left turn and followed a trail to the west and then north. Along the way, I came across a cow and later, a javelina. The encounter with the javelina was mutually startling with both of us taking off in opposite directions. I ended up arcing around to the west and approached the confluence from a large clearing to the west. The trails were fairly well maintained but the way back would be much shorter.
I found the stump identified by the two previous visitors to be where my GPS was also pretty close to all zeroes. The rocks were still there from the previous visitor. I set my Trimble GPS on the stump and let it capture data to post process the position after I got back home. I took the required pictures and also sent a Spot custom message announcing my arrival to several people who were tracking our trip.
I was in radio contact with my wife throughout and was also able to receive text messages on my phone – the point is in the middle of nowhere but there is fairly good coverage (Verizon).
On my way back, I started off to the east knowing that I would run into one of the other trails. There were a few other Forest Service vertically numbered roads - which means they are legal for an all terrain vehicle like a quad or side by side utility vehicle which would have been a much faster method to easily get within a couple hundred meters of the point. The temperature and slight overcast made for a very enjoyable hike.
Forest Service Road 734 runs to the west of private property – all of the trails here are on public lands. There were signs along one of the fenced areas to the east of the road identifying it as a Cooperative Project Paid for by the New Mexico Habitat Stamp Program. I also passed signs along my hike for forest Service Roads 4076Q and 4081K. I think they all connected and there were multiple recent tire tracks from full size trucks.
Once back at the vehicle, I spent some time washing up and eating a very late lunch before getting back on the road towards home.
Post processing of the GPS data reveals that my GPS receiver on the stump was 1.8 meters southwest of the actual confluence with a Horizontal Precision of 2.4 meters. Total time off Hwy 78 was 2:55 with 37 km driving. Included in that time is my roundtrip hike of 1:40 and 7 km with about 20 minutes at the confluence. If you follow the road to the right from the gate in Picture #8 your trip will be much shorter!
What a great confluence adventure!