23-Aug-2017 -- This visit continues from 43N 115W.
When I was initially planning to visit the eclipse confluence, I asked Ross Finlayson if he would like to also visit this very remote confluence with me. We agreed to try sometime after the eclipse. We met again at the starting point for 42N 116W mid-morning but were unable to secure access permission after following the instructions on the signs and calling the number for the Duck Valley Indian Reservation because the proper person was not there for authorization.
We quickly determined that we could still make it to McDermitt and visit this confluence by the end of the day. It was just under 300 miles from Owyhee to McDermitt just one degree to the west, so we would really be chasing daylight!
We turned off US-95 onto N Road and drove east until a parking area. We would proceed the rest of the way on the RZR on NF-083 through the Humbolt National Forest.
I had spent a lot of time planning this route, and had uploaded this route to my RZR’s GPS. The road was in good condition as we continued east paralleling the East Fork of the Quinn River. Along the way we saw a bunch of wild horses. We turned east here off of NF-083 as we left the Humbolt National Forest (the only trees we saw were by the river). At this intersection, I turned south because during my planning, this road appeared to be better on GoogleEarth imagery. There was even a road sign there. Future visitors will probably want to continue east if they want to save time and remain on fairly decent roads. It was during this excursion that the Polaris Ride Command GPS decided that it wanted to stop displaying the map with my route (maybe because we were in the middle of nowhere?). I had my Garmin running as well with the same route and Ross had his GPS going too, so we were able to continue on.
The road would eventually become a double track, then a faded double track, then a faded rocky double track that really slowed our speed. The terrain for most of the trip was pretty arid, flat, and rocky. There were a couple puddles from a recent rain but it would have been a challenge if the entire road was muddy. Eventually, we rejoined the road as planned and continued east until we reached another fading double track and turned due east to track down the Oregon/Nevada border. There was another gate here and we continued on the north side of the fence line.
Shortly before we reached the confluence, we stopped at the Oregon/Idaho/Nevada border monument. A little research reveals that there are 61 such points where three states meet, something to think about if I ever get bored…
We took some pictures of the monument and then continued east to the confluence. There was strong convective activity to the east and south with lots of virga and a few raindrops every once in a while. There was also some lightning associated with these storms. We hoped we would beat it.
We parked on the road and then walked the remaining distance to the confluence. This was one of the most remote confluences I think I have visited. I think that is also why we are only the second set of visitors in 16 years!
The terrain was pretty much flat ground covered in sagebrush in all directions. The only man-made thing that was visible was the fence line paralleling the double track to the south.
I captured data with my Trimble GPS on the cairn that Wayne Courtain made some 16 years prior. I took pictures and sent a SPOT message and watched as Ross flew his drone. You can see the video he made of this confluence here.
On our way back we continued west at this intersection which saved several miles and allowed for a much faster return.
The entire trip was captured using a GoPro Hero 5. There was quite the variety of scenery from rolling hills to riparian to just flat desert. Wild horses and cows were seen as well as a very cool low angle sun bringing out the desert colors. You can see a Quik (1 minute) long video with scenes from the drive to the point here. The drive back and into the sunset can be seen here.
Picture 6 shows the existing cairn. Picture 7 shows the wild horses we saw. Picture 8 shows the Oregon-Idaho-Nevada Border Monument. Picture 9 is the text at the base of the monument.
Post processing of the GPS data (412 positions) reveals that my Trimble GPS receiver (and the existing cairn) was 2.3 meters bearing 037 degrees from the actual confluence with a Horizontal Precision of 2.0 meters.
It took 10 minutes to travel the 6.4 miles to the parking area where we offloaded the RZR. The outbound trip in the RZR was 38.4 miles in 1+34 and the return trip back to the parking area was 33.8 miles in 1+27. Total time off US-95 was 4+20. I made the drive back to US-95 in the dark.
A high clearance vehicle could make this same trip but it was a lot more fun in the RZR! You need to plan for this one, it is a long way from anywhere and zero cell coverage. Always carry a SPOT!
My confluence adventure continues at 42N 118W.