28-Feb-2010 -- On 28 February 2010, a group of nine geocachers known largely to one another by their screen names gathered in Silverdale to begin their mission to 48° 00.000 123° 00.000. Spearheaded by Fledermaus, the group called themselves the "NW Task Force" and consisted of Fledermaus and myself (a former forest ranger, also known as Hoppingcrow), followed alphabetically by Dutchgoers (Mr. and Mrs.), Frisbee'r, Scorpio1537 and three member of The-5-OfUs. The primary mission for the group was to establish a geocache at the confluence, a precedent set by several other Washington geocachers with cache placements at other confluences around the state. Secondarily, those of us who have been interested in the Degree Confluence Project also hoped to write up their successful visits.
Fledermaus and I had done the necessary mapwork independently of one another and had charted several options for the approach to the Zero Zone. The one we elected to take began off Hwy. 101 at Woods Rd., which follows delightfully named Jimmycomelately Creek for some distance. Our objective was to navigate on spur roads until we reached the peak of the powerline trail and a geocache called "The Rock" (N 47° 59.897 W 122° 59.171). The spurs led us to within 0.3 miles of "The Rock," but from there, the road degraded. We reassembled and took two 4WD vehicles to the crest, leaving the third at the bottom.
From the apex of the powerline, our GPSrs showed that we only needed to travel .65 miles horizontally to reach the junction of the powerline trail and contour interval of the confluence. However, we also had to take into account over 1000' of vertical. In anyone's book, that's one heck of a drop! The powerline trail was muddy, rocky, slick as a greased pig in places where the soil was of a clayey nature, rutted and ravaged by erosion. Still, going down seemed a better choice than going up some 600' at the same pitch if we had approached from its junction with Woods Rd. at the bottom.
Beginning slightly below the contour interval (a human being's natural inclination is to ascend), we entered the forest and immediately crossed a trickle-width spring. For the next hundred feet or so, a light animal trail led us up about thirty feet in elevation and then disappeared in an accumulation of forest duff and minor blowdown. Navigation was relatively easy for the members of the party with off-trail experience, although blowdowns occasionally forced minor changes in elevation, up or down. The forest was fairly open with occasional patches of salal which could be skirted without issue. No devil's club was in evidence, old or new. A few rock outcrops were noted, all overgrown with step moss. Forest was mixed, largely hemlock, fir and young cedar, with occasional sword fern throughout.
At 150' from the Zero Zone, the members of the party began calling out proximity, using a wide variety of different Garmin GPSrs. When the confluence was reached, all units agreed within an 8' diameter area and I believe each of us was able to view those enviable strings of zeroes on their instrument of choice if held in one place long enough. The variation experienced with my Garmin Summit HC ranged from .997-.007 north and .998-.003 west. Prior visitors to the confluence mentioned the National Forest boundary sign. This was found somewhat to the west, toppled over and almost completely covered in debris.
After celebrating the Very Round Event with pictures and much whooping and hollering, the gentlemen in the party set to cache placement. A metal fencepost was driven into the ground to maximum depth and a permanent container was affixed to it. Visitors to the confluence are encouraged to sign the log and report their find at Geocaching.com. And if you happen to find Fledermaus' other glove, let one of us know!