21-Jul-2006 -- With over 220 confluences between us, it was only a matter of time before Shawn Fleming and I got together for a confluence visit. For many months, we had been planning to visit a Colorado confluence during Shawn's visit to this state, and it was a great success that made for many pleasant memories.
I departed the Denver area at 4:35am local time, and before 7:00am, reached Pueblo to stock up on the essentials--batteries and chocolate milk. Arising from the Great Plains grasslands, I climbed up into the Rocky Mountains and the San Isabel National Forest. I reached the Fleming's camping spot on Colorado State Highway 78 nearly due north of the confluence, where I met the entire wonderful family. Four of us were on the San Carlos trailhead by 8:10am, with 1.83 kilometers to go, walking south through the forest and chatting amiably about geography, education, and other topics. It was excellent to behold some of Shawn's extensive array of gadgets, including signal mirrors, a satellite phone, and a nifty compass. I quickly felt like I had known them for years.
Before long, we were descending steeply into the canyon of the St Charles River. At the bottom, we crossed two picturesque log bridges before ascending the other side to a track that was about as wide as a bicycle trail. We had cut to the east and then to the north. Once again, we were in luck, as this led to the ridge, placing us just a few hundred meters south of the confluence. At this point, we slip-slided our way down the 40-degree slope, scattering pine needles and small boulders. It was pretty treacherous in spots and I couldn't fathom attempting it in winter with ice and snow. I think we all fell at least once except for Shawn. We agreed that while a trek along the river might have been shorter in terms of distance, the steep canyon walls would have made for a more dangerous journey. The few hundred meters downslope required nearly a half hour, and the tree cover made for difficult GPS navigation. Finally, we neared the stream and circled around to the east to climb again. We reached the confluence at about 10am local time.
The confluence lies on what I call "Quintessential Colorado," as this is the type of terrain that most people think of when they think of Colorado. The site is steep--about 40 degrees, sloping to the north, and less than 10 meters from the bottom of a cliff. The trees and cliff impeded our satellite view so much that I was overjoyed to take two photographs of the zero-zero GPS display. The temperature was quite pleasant, at 82F with light winds. We saw no large animals and no other people on our trek.
We stayed at the confluence about 25 minutes. Shawn made a voice recording of his observations. I had been to 38 North five times previously, and to 105 west three times previously. This was my 14th Colorado confluence and made me think about possibly visiting them all in my home state someday.
We ascended the ridge, and upon reflection, could have saved a bit of hiking if we had stayed on the ridge top for just 75 more meters. But one cannot complain: Any time that one is able to spend in the Colorado Rockies is wonderful. We then returned the way we had come, and just in time, as rain began to fall. This was at 12:15pm, making for a total hiking time of 4 hours and 5 minutes. We chatted amiably at the camping spot and bade each other farewell, with hopes that we could meet again for another trek. I thought I might be able to make a dash for the confluence one degree to the east. This concluded one of the most pleasant confluence days of all time. Geography, once again, brings people together!