12-Feb-2019 -- As I was in the area for the purpose of supporting, fostering, and promoting the use of geotechnologies in teaching, learning, and research, including several days at Arizona State University and at the Ecosa Institute in Prescott, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone. And so, after my meetings in Prescott, I drove southwest from the city on a magnificent road (Arizona 89) across the mountain tops, and then straight off the Colorado Plateau onto the desert floor. The descent along the cliffside was one of the most spectacular roads I have ever driven on. I had been eyeing 34 North 113 West for quite some time before I traveled to Arizona, but did not think I had time to visit it. However, Ross Finlayson's narrative about driving under the powerline gave me hope. My only hesitation was that my rental car was not 4WD. It was a modified SUV but not really four-wheel ready. Could I make it?
I drove southwest past the US Highway 93 crossover along Arizona 71, to the low rise between valleys, and over to the next valley to the southwest. In the distance I spotted the powerline, and once there, I drove off the main road to the left, to the gate under the powerline. I opened what would be at least three gates. Closing the gate behind me, I gingerly drove a bit further, always to the southeast, dodging the worst of the divots and holes and moving off the main track when it became too sandy. I saw what looked like a maintenance vehicle off to the left. Things continued in this manner until I neared the ridgeline, where the road became rocky and bumpy. For the tenth time, I considered turning around but kept slow progress. After one bend, I came to a stop, because a series of vehicles were parked in the road. These belonged to the crew trimming the shrubs beneath the powerline. Two of the men walked over and explained that if they did not trim the vegetation, there could be wildfires from occasional sparks especially during thunderstorms. I asked if they could shift their vehicles, which they did, for which I was very grateful. I waved and was off again, going down the ridge and seeing the next mountain range far to the south. The road became sandy again.
Again a few times, I almost turned around, the last time at the track that led off of the powerline trail at a southwest angle. I kept going and should have, in retrospect, stopped about 100 meters shy of the end of the road (more about that in a bit). I got out of the vehicle there, in what was a shallow depression, and gathered supplies. The sun was sinking lower and it was winter, and therefore only late afternoon, so I made haste. I wandered through the thorns and surrounding shrubbery until finding the point, scratching myself but otherwise was unharmed. The temperature stood at 65 F (18 C) under sunny skies with moderate winds. It should be noted that one week after I was here, the area received some very rare snowfall and I never would have made it this far. I saw no animals or birds. It was a beautiful and peaceful spot, and very remote. I saw no houses in any direction.
I had stood on 34 North several times in the past, from California to North Carolina. This point connected all of 34 North for me from here to the Pacific Ocean. I had also stood on 113 twice before, times, in Utah and Arizona, to this point in central Arizona. I have a nice tidy collection of confluence points in Arizona, a few points in northern, central, southern, and western Arizona, and seeking them all was quite an adventure. I was reluctant to leave but did not want to be out here after dark. When I reached the vehicle, I took some pictures out to the north where I had a clear view. Then, upon entering the vehicle, I became mired for just a few (3?) but tense minutes in the sand, trying to back out of the depression. I went back and forth several times. But I made it and re-traced my track back to the powerline, filming as I went, and then north all the way over the ridge. The powerline workers were gone, and I made it back to the main road after only one wrong turn. I then took US 93 back to Phoenix, arriving there in time for my evening meeting. Hooray for this rental vehicle! Get out there and explore the world!