Sometime in September of 2005, I stumbled across the Degree Confluence Project.
I had no GPS unit at the time, but my wife was traveling outside of the Philippines and she promised to bring one back with her.
My wife arrived back in the Philippines on 17 Oct, bringing a Garmin GPS-60 with her. On 21 Oct, she traveled to her hometown of Tumauini in Isabela Province to visit family. Noting that Tumauini is nearby the 17°N 122°E confluence, I tagged along.
My tentative plans were to use Tumauini as a jump-off point to visit the nearby 17°N 122°E confluence, and possibly to continue onwards from there to visit the 16°N 122°E confluence. A mapquest.com map of the 17°N 122°E confluence area
showed the confluence as being just North of an East-West road linking the towns of Benito Solivan and San Mariano. A brother-in-law, Bobby Baquiran, happens to be from San Mariano. Bobby volunteered to help me with the confluence visit.
Without Bobby's help, this visit would not have been a success.
On the morning of 22 Oct, Bobby and I set out confluence-wards in a van driven by one of Bobby's friends. We drove all the way to San Mariano before the GPS indicated that the confluence was due North of us. Trying roads Northwards, we quickly reached the point of closest approach to the confluence by road. This was on the South bank of a wide, shallow, slow-flowing river. At this point, the GPS indicated that we were about 1.6km South of the confluence.
There was pole-boat transportation available across the river, which Bobby and I used. Once on the North bank of the river, we walked up dirt roads and footpaths until we reached what appeared to be the point of closest approach by footpath. At this point, we were at a piggery operated by the Rugay family, and about 0.6km South of the confluence according to the GPS.
Bobby and I obtained permission to cross the piggery property, climbed up an embankment to the North, and found ourselves on South lip of a ravine with the GPS showing the confluence location as 0.5km or so to the North. Bobby and I were looking for a reasonable way across the ravine when four young boys showed up and asked what in the world we were doing. Bobby explained to the boys, and they offered to guide us across the ravine. We accepted their offer, and off we went.
The boys led us down a series of steep, muddy, slippery footpaths more suited to 12 year old boys than to Bobby's 40-some years or to my 63. The footpaths were mostly overlapped by thorny plants, making me wish that I had had the good sense not to wear hiking shorts. Eventually, muddy, scratched, and bruised, we crossed the ravine and clambered most of the way up its North side to reach the confluence area. My GPS indicated that I was 2 meters West of the Confluence at an elevation of 88 meters and with a GPS error of plus or minus 17 meters.
Just after we reached the confluence area, it began to rain. The four boys quickly improvised raingear for themselves out of large-leafed plants growing nearby. We waited in the confluence area for the rain to abate, getting soaked to the skin. After about half an hour the rain had slowed to a light sprinkle and I decided that was good enough to take the photos to record the confluence visit, which we proceeded to do.
We backtracked to the South side of the ravine, where I took the wide-view photo of the confluence area. This view looks Northwards across the ravine, which is out of sight behind the bush in the center-foreground. On the other side of the ravine, visible above the left side of the bush, is a mango tree. The confluence area is slightly to the right of and about 10 meters downhill from that tree -- not quite as far downhill as the second mango tree which can be seen downhill and to the left. Notice the cornstalks in the foreground of the photo. The agriculture in the area seems to consist of rice and popcorn production. On the way in, we drove past many areas where rice and popcorn were being dried on the roadway. At one point we drove down a road completely covered with popcorn kernels, driving across a sea of popcorn. I was suprised at this, but nobody seemed to mind.
After taking the wide-view photo, we backtracked to the piggery, onwards to the river, across the river to the van, and then back to San Mariano by road.
Some inquiry about going Eastwards from San Mariano to Palanan and Southwards from there to Casiguran, which I had hoped to use as a jumping-off point to visit the 16°N 122°E confluence, produced little hope of transport. Consequently, I scratched my tentative plan to visit this second confulence.
Perhaps I will do that another day -- I have visited the town of Baler to the South of that confluence, and that might be a workable jumping-off point.