the Degree Confluence Project

United States : New Mexico

17.1 miles (27.5 km) SSW of Ramon, Lincoln, NM, USA
Approx. altitude: 1523 m (4996 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap topo aerial world confnav)
Antipode: 34°S 75°E

Accuracy: 4 m (13 ft)
Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Photo of my GPS at the confluence site #3: Me and Earl at the confluence site #4: Kinda looks like a Ford commercial, doesn't it?

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  34°N 105°W (visit #1)  

#1: View of confluence, looking north

(visited by Ken Hornstein, Earl Renaud and Dave Langlois)

21-Oct-2001 -- On a business trip to Alamogordo, NM, my companions and I decided to try for this confluence, since it was the nearest confluence to Alamogordo that hadn't been visited.

I scouted the location out using the Garmin MetroGuide mapset, and I was pleased to discover that there was a road less than a mile from the confluence. Looking at it with the US Topo map showed that the terrain wasn't too rugged, so I didn't expect the confluence would be too difficult.

I decided to try an experiment, and I had my StreetPilot III generate a route to take us to the confluence. It turned out that this route worked rather well, and we didn't have any problems following it.

We started out north of Roswell on Highway 285, and the SP III told us to turn off of Hwy 285 onto "Corn Rd". The road actually didn't look like a real road, so we missed the turn and had to double back (our mistake for not listening to the GPS). When we reached the road, we encountered the first of what would be a series of fences punctuated by "cattle grates" - a grate that consists of steel pipes set into a box in the roadbed designed to presumably prevent cattle from crossing them but let vehicles cross the fence uninhibited.

While I came from what I considered a rural area, this was VERY rural; the "road" consisted of a single lane of badly graded dirt road that got progressively worse the farther we went. We wouldn't have called this a road in my home town; it was more along the lines of a wagon path in a pasture. But the MetroGuide data actually SHOWED all of these "roads", and they even had names assigned to them (but after we turned off Corn Rd, they were all named "Co Rd 552" or something similar).

We drove on these roads for approximately ten miles. Most of the time we didn't see any signs of human civilization. Occasionally we'd run across some rusty farm equipment, a few water tanks, and even once an abandoned farm house, but those quickly disappeared behind us on the rolling countryside. We crossed five or six fences during the drive; the first few fences had the cattle grate so we were able to just drive across them without stopping, but later fences had the cattle grate fenced off and a swing gate next to it (which led me to think that maybe the cattle grate wasn't so effective at preventing cattle from crossing it). In these cases the duty somehow fell to me as navigator to get out of the vehicle and undo the snap swivel (on the better gates) or untwist the baling wire (on the lower budget gates) and open the gate to let our vehicle pass.

After driving these bumpy roads for about a half hour (yes, it was a rather low average speed) it was getting closer to sunset, and we were less than a mile from the confluence. We decided to put our Ford Excursion into 4WD mode and pointed our massive SUV right at the confluence.

This was my first real "off-road" experience and it was rather surprising to me. I guess I had this mental picture of manly, rugged men who wore flannel shirts even in July serenely driving up and down canyons at 70 MPH in perfectly clean pickup trucks, the independent suspension absorbing each and every bump they encountered. The reality was a little different. "Manly men" aside, even at only a few miles an hour the Excursion bounced all over the place, and I would have considered the terrain rather flat. I gave up trying to use the GPS dash mount or even taking a drink from my water bottle; I just held on as we slowly lurched across the landscape.

When we got to within 3/10ths of a mile of the confluence, we encountered a fence that we didn't see from the road. We got out of the Excursion and decided to walk the rest of the way, but when we examined the fence we realized it was too low to crawl under, too high to step over, and too flimsy to climb over. None of us wanted to wreck some farmer's fence, so we got back into the Excursion and drove back along the fence line until we reached the next gate.

However, my examination of the Topo map before we started our trip showed that there was a dry stream bed on this side of the fence, but since it was now even closer to sunset we decided to give the Excursion another try going off-road. We encountered the dry stream bed, but a little scouting found a ford for our Ford, and we were able to navigate the obstacle with few problems.

Once we got within 500 feet, we got out and walked the rest of the way. However, in my excitement I was staring too closely at the GPS screen and not the ground in front of me, and I ran right into a small cactus. Luckily I had my Leatherman tool with me and I used the pliers on it to remove the cactus needles. After that I was a bit more careful and made it to the confluence without incident (after doing a bit of the "GPS shuffle" to get the latitude and longitude correct).

When I was at the confluence, I was struck by the remoteness of the area; there was no sign of any human civilization visible. Even after sunset, no lights were visible anywhere.

The ride back was relatively uneventful, except that we had to do it in the dark. Once again my GPS came to the rescue; I had left the track log on and we used the saved track log to navigate across the dry stream bed back to the road. During the ride back to Hwy 285 we encountered a bunch of jackrabbits (where were they during the day?).

One minor snafu on the way back was that apparently all of the bouncing around stuck the gas tank sensor in the "full" position, and we had to do a bit of dead reckoning to determine how much gas we had left. But after we filled up again, the sensor got unstuck so it all worked out in the end.

In summary: one confluence achieved, a lot of remote ranchland, and a whole bunch of cactus needles in my leg.

 All pictures
#1: View of confluence, looking north
#2: Photo of my GPS at the confluence site
#3: Me and Earl at the confluence site
#4: Kinda looks like a Ford commercial, doesn't it?
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)