This narrative describes the visit to the confluence at
The goal of this day trip was to capture two
confluences at the 43rd parallel; 73W and 74W, and to
visit Annie's dad, who lives midway between the two
We left Cape Cod early on a Saturday, skirted around
Boston on old rt 128, then took route 2 west, which
becomes very scenic, once beyond the Boston suburbs and
older industrial towns along the northern border of
120km west of Boston, we encountered the Connecticut
River, and turned north on interstate 91. The terrain
thus far was gradually rising coastal plain, but the river
marks a transition to the Appalacian Mnts., which are more
like hills than mountains at this point in the range.
The Appalacians in Massachusetts are called the
Berkshires; just north of the border into Vermont, they
are the Green Mountains.
15km into Vermont, we turned west again on rt 9. From
the elevation of the river (approx 100m), the road quickly
climbs to as much as 650m in less than 20km. The early
spring forest foliage; barely a haze of yellow green leaf
buds on trees near the river, disappeared with altitude
until the bare hardwood branches cast the dull grey of
winter on the surrounding 1000m peaks.
At Searsburg, Vermont, the Deerfield River flows in
from the north. It drains a large watershed in the
national forest, mostly uninhabited, crossed with numerous
older logging roads. The more southern part of these
lands are popular camping grounds. There is also a great
deal of water management, with dams creating large
reservoirs and ponds.
An interesting water conduit was seen snaking through the
forest from Searsburg reservoir to Medburyville to the
south. It was 3m diameter; constructed of wood staves and
metal hoops; just like a barrel, but 5km long!
We drove north on a good quality gravel road, following
the river, passing campgrounds already populated by hardy
sportmen. Our maps indicated that these roads would take
us to within 100m of the confluence.
Not so lucky, we encountered a locked gate on the road,
5km south of the confluence, where the Glastenbury river
joins the Deerfield.
The weather was agreeable, we felt fit, so decided to
hike the road to the confluence. Accompanying Annie & I
was Harley the dog, a robust ShihTzu who had prior proven
hiking performance, in spite of short legs.
The forest was 80% spruce and balsam fir at the start
of the hike. This composition changed as we hiked. There
were some swatches with few conifers. The hardwoods were
70% yellow & paper birch, with the remainder maple and
oak. The flood plains of the river were full of skunk
cabbage. Several beaver communities were in place along
the streams, with fully maintained lodges and dams.
In the hillier hardwood areas, ground cover was especially
pretty, with pink spring beauty in bloom, dotted with
yellow trout lily, and some early purple trillium.
As we neared the confluence, the road quality declined,
the elevation increased, and the trail became spongy and
muddy. When the GPS read exactly 43N, we turned east and
entered a woods of young trees, most of which were no
larger than 2-3cm diameter. After a short 50m walk the
confluence was reached.
Seconds later, a new surprise; on the ground, exactly at the intersection was a
geocache box, discreetly camouflaged as a rock. We opened
it and discovered it to be GC10KZ1, named Prime Lines.
(because 43 and 73 are both prime numbers).
We exchanged some of the treasure, filled out a log entry,
took pictures of the GPS, and the compass points, rested
in the silence for a while, then started back.
One unique aspect of this location; the place was
completely uniform in appearance, without any directional
indicator. I've been to other confluences in forests, but
I've never seen a place so devoid of any identifiable
features. The forest was dense enough to limit visibility
to about 25m. It was a sunny day, and I'm a good enough
astronomer that I could determine direction, knowing the
time of day. But if it were overcast, and if the GPS went
dead, it would have been impossible to determine which way
to go. The leaf litter underfoot did not leave prints to
I began to feel a strange fear; a kind of claustrophobia
in the open, and a very strong dependency on the GPS to
keep us safe.
The walk back to the car completed a 11km round trip,
and we set off for the next destination at 43N 74W.