28-Oct-2001 -- We left Norman, Oklahoma, arriving in desolate, rocky rangeland on
the Texas-Oklahoma border. A mile south of the confluence the road
wound around an abandoned farmhouse with vintage-1940s pickup trucks
rusting in the front yard. The road then led north across a shallow gully, bringing us to our
closest approach to the confluence half a mile to our east. We parked
and I left a "no assistance needed" letter on the windshield. As I
did this, though, I realized the note would go insane from boredom
until we got back.
The only signs of human activity for miles were the dense crisscrosses of jet
contrails above, marking swarms of people spending their Sunday
afternoon on a LAX-ATL or SEA-DFW flight, oblivious to the no-man's
land below while immersed in some combination of sleep, reading,
peanuts, sodas, or inflight movies.
The absence of sound and the stiff south wind blanketed the countryside
in complete tranquility. We slipped underneath a cattle fence
and begin hiking directly east along the south face of a hill. The
walk was quite easy, taking us through a continuous carpet of yellowish sagebrush,
tall stalks of faded gayfeather flowers, and occasional stubs of prickly pear.
We could see an abandoned two-story house in the creek bottom about a
quarter mile to the south, which may have been occupied as recently as
ten years ago. To its west and across the
creek was a large herd of cows around a windmill-powered watering trough.
Although they noticed us and there were probably a few bulls among them,
their half-mile distance gave us an excellent margin of safety. They
watched us and mooed occasionally across the valley.
As expected from the TerraServer maps, the confluence hunt brought us
out of rolling slopes and into the same creek mentioned above. The
creek was only two feet wide, but frequent rainstorms and centuries
of erosion had carved out a rocky hollow oriented southwest-northeast,
about 40 feet deep and 250 feet wide. In spite of the extremely dry
weather this creek had running water and was lined with beautiful green
grass as well as some cottonwood and mesquite trees, making it
a beautiful linear oasis. Flanking the creek were outcroppings of
eroded sandstone, Permian limestone, dolomite, and anhydrite laced
with gypsum crystals. With my GPS urging me on another ten feet,
I stepped across the trickling brook onto the southeast side. A very
short climb brought us to the confluence spot on a rocky slope
at the base of a four-foot mesquite tree.
Unbelievably, such a cardinal confluence contained no evidence of anyone
having been here. The view was impressive, a sentiment echoed several
times by Jim, and a picnic at the confluence would have been a perfect
finish to the quest. After the obligatory photos, we built a ten-inch
cairn out of anhydrite at the cnfluence. We then scurried up the south
rock face to check for a nearby state boundary marker (somewhere along
the NAD27 meridian), but having left my USGS maps at the car I had no idea
how far we needed to go, and decided to abandon the attempt. We then
returned to the car uneventfully, taking a slightly more southerly
What an excellent and secluded confluence! Special credit goes to
Daphne for identifying the gayfeather (liatrus) flowers we saw.