28-Sep-2006 -- I had been invited to Vermont for a summit on the integration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other spatial technologies into the curriculum of liberal arts colleges throughout the world. This was part of the National Institute in Technology in Liberal Education project, and a confluence visit seemed like the perfect complement to the summit. This was our third summit on the project, and I had visited confluences in Georgia and Maryland during our previous two summits in January 2005 and October 2005.
After visiting 45 North 73 West in midafternoon, I still had a bit of daylight left, and, not wasting any time, I spent two hours on wonderfully narrow roads, hugging the Canadian border, along a zigzag route that took me 1 degree east. My favorite community was North Troy, which reminded me of Lowell, Massachusetts, with its brick mills along the stream. At Derby Line, a community that truly straddles the USA-Canada line, I drove east on Holland Road, realizing that the backyards I was viewing to the north were in Canada.
I then drove east on Goodall Road, and then east on Twin Bridges Road. I kept my eye on the GPS as I had no map. Thinking that Stearns Brook Road would take me closest, I turned north on it, only to find it dead end with a few kilometers to go. As I was driving back south along this road, I realized with a start that the dead end occurred on the Canadian border. Very cool, indeed. I resumed travel east on Twin Bridges Road and passed some hay bundled in white plastic. It looked just like enormous marshmallows. I drove north on Lyon Road and then east on Prairie Road, finding a spot that was 700 meters north of the confluence. I doubled back to Lafoe Road, but this placed me 800 meters south of the confluence, and what was worse, an approach that was on someone's driveway. This was taking up time and the sun was sinking low. I therefore drove back to the point on Prairie Road, parked in a pull-out, observed the No Hunting signs, and set off.
I was immediately engulfed in the northern forests of Vermont, and, the region having been subjected to numerous glaciations, very rough and marshy ground. I lost signal a few times, my shoes were soon soaked, and the brambles and downed trees made the 700 meters a very slow trek indeed. I fell a few times in some significant trenches. I speculated how long it would take to hike across Vermont without a trail in this type of terrain. It was at least 25 minutes before I made the final clearing. I called it a success with 50 meters to go, because of the low sun, and because any further would place me in full view of the house off to the west. I did not have the landowner permission request with me, and due to the late hour, did not wish an encounter with an inquiring landowner.
The confluence lies on marshy, uneven ground, in a clearing that appeared to have been previously forested, but had been cut probably several times in the past. A large stand of bare trees stood to the northwest. The late afternoon temperature stood at 55 F (13 C) under partly cloudy and breezy skies. The area is rolling, with some high hills, with many clearings for farms and livestock, but with much forest left. I couldn't see any massive homes for city dwellers who wanted a bit of rural life, so it appears that the area is still largely comprised of working farmers and ranchers. I had been to 45 North earlier that day in Vermont, and previously in Minnesota and South Dakota. This was my first time to stand on 72 West. I took photographs and a movie, seeing no person and no animals. I left without a trace in the confluence tradition.
I hiked out on a more northerly track, in an effort to make for an easier hike, but it was just as rough. One has to admire these tough Vermont settlers who originally staked their claim to such a land. I ended up on the road a bit west of the vehicle, and took some photographs in the last bit of sun. I spent a few minutes driving slowly around the community of Derby Line, half in Canada and half in the USA, making a few people look at my inquiringly. Just before dark, I drove back to Burlington, not arriving until 8:00pm. An excellent way to experience Vermont on my first trip there in nearly 40 years!