02-May-2004 -- This visit was state number three on my six state confluence trip for the weekend of May 1, 2004. Having spent the night in Concord, New Hampshire, I got an early start at 5:00a in order to make up some time I had lost the day before from poor estimations of how long it would take to navigate the mountainous highways of Western Maine and New Hampshire.
After some confusing highway signage in the capital city of Concord, I ventured west out of pre-dawn New Hampshire towards the Vermont. I took Interstate 89 west to US Highway 202, which turns into State Road 9 as you approach Keene, NH. The roads were pretty slow going but scenic as they passed through still-asleep small towns. I rambled into Vermont's border town of Brattleboro as the sun came up over the hills and I neared Wilmington, VT. I read in previous narratives of visits to this confluence that a National Forest road headed almost directly to the confluence, so I kept an eye out for one as I got directly south of the spot at the 73rd meridian. The area is sparsely populated, with a few little craft shops and houses. Passing west of the confluence a few miles with no National Forest road to be seen, I turned around and headed back east of the meridian to see if I had missed it. Sure enough, about a mile or two east of the confluence is the National Forest road, which looks like it runs parallel to State Road 9, which is does for a while, but then cuts north towards the confluence.
The road is densely packed dirt and gravel so my car had no problems with it, as it hadn't rained for a while and conditions the whole weekend were a lot less muddy than anticipated. There are a few locals with houses back along this road, which runs along a really nice river, and there are also a few cemeteries along the way as well. Driving about 8 miles down the forest road, I came across even more houses and eventually, a large mound to the left which is a dam, complete with lots of frightening signs that deter anyone not authorized to stay off the dam. As the road seemed to be headed too far east, I stopped and checked a map of the area posted on a sign, which showed a lot of recreational (snowmobiling, hiking) trails in the area criss-crossing the National Forest roads. I determined from the maps I had printed out and the large displayed map that I had passed the turnoff to the other forest road which would lead me within a half kilometer of the confluence.
I turned around, headed back and found a group of 6 or 7 houses which i figured must be the 'town' referred to on the map as "Somerset". I picked the only other road out of Somerset, which headed north towards the confluence. This road was in a severe condition, lots of deep holes and big rocks. I steered the car I was driving down this road at a virtual crawl, noting the extremely loud bangs I would hear as New England's largest rocks put dents in the undercarriage. "Only 2 miles to go," I thought, which would take about 30 minutes at this rate. A few even more secluded houses were back here, and as I reached a very muddy part of the road I wasn't going anywhere near with my car, I parked on the side. I saw a man eating breakfast in one of the houses, and knocked to ask permission for parking there in order to walk the rest of the confluence.
"No, see.. look, you're on the wrong road. This road dead ends right up there," he pointed at my map. "You need to go back down to the bridge, and make a right before you cross it." The man was in his bathrobe and I have a strong suspicion he was eating breakfast in the nude, as it took him a minute to answer the door.
Somerset apparently wasn't that group of houses after all, but a camping area closer to the real highway. I hopped back in, brutalized the car along the same stretch of road, and sped back towards the 'real' other road.
I found the road with little problem, and drove down the real nicely packed dirt/gravel surface past a few large camping groups enjoying the early Vermont spring, and came across a young dude and his two lip-ringed girl friends waving me down.
"Hey, man... my girlfriend's battery is dead, and my tire is flat," he explained. "You got jumper cables?"
I didn't, but the tire iron in the back seemed to please him as he could change the flat. So I drove back deeper into the woods, with my new pals riding along towards their campsite.
We talked a little bit about what exactly what I was doing.
"You know, lines of latitude and longitude? Well, where they intersect... you go and you take pictures, and..."
His girl friends looked at each other with a smile in the backseat and quickly looked away from each other, as I explained confluence hunting. The confused look of how it could possibly be a fun time glazed across their eyes as I dropped them off at their campsite. Perhaps ill-advisedly, I handed a complete stranger a tire iron in the middle of nowhere and headed on my way.
Their campsite turned out to be along the road which led me directly to the confluence, and soon, I was parked about 500 meters from the spot. With no signs of civilization, I trekked up a hill and photographed the confluence among the leafless trees.
I decided to let my new friend keep the tire iron as I sped towards New York.