12-Jun-2011 -- It was only a matter of time before Diana Stuart Sinton and I would visit a confluence together. As we are both in the fields of spatial thinking, education, and geotechnologies, we would now find ourselves truly out in the field, or in the chaparral, to be more specific. We had been planning this for quite some time. As we both happened to be in southern California this month, we chose the closest and easiest confluence. This confluence, as we would discover, was really not that easy, even though it was only 1100 meters from the vehicle and a place I had visited several times before. And the only time we could carve out, namely, meeting at 5:00am, would make for a long workday. Still, it was a most fitting addition to our long collaboration on all things geospatial.
I picked Diana up at 5:00am and we were soon motoring east on Interstate Highway 10 through the murkiness known in the region as the June Gloom, caused by the Cataline eddy and forming a dense morning fog. On this particular morning, the fog appeared to be denser than normal, especially as we traveled east along County Line Road. It was so thick that I had momentary dyslexia remembering where to park. But, sure enough, we found the familiar open space sign and soon were trudging along the trail. We soon also became wet from the dew clinging to the underbrush, but fortunately it wasn't really raining, just "misting."
We passed a place where the earth looked like it had been rototilled, which seemed odd, out here. We proceeded east-southeast, although, as it turned out later, this was the location where we should have gone southwest before heading east. Not long afterwards, my GPS showed that we were on a ridge too far north, and our next 15 minutes or so was quite difficult, off-trail, in the thorns and on loose, wet soil. One plant caused a nasty gash on my palm that would persist for several weeks afterwards. It is in times like these where the GPS comes in very handy, as I could see the point on the receiver, and our current position. We found a trail on the next ridge but to my dismay, soon discovered that we were still too far north. Thus, another cross-ravine trek ensued. Reminding ourselves that this was fun, we emerged on what finally was the last ridge to the north of the confluence. Yet the adventure was still not over, because after descending to the ravine and up the other side, we spent at least 25 minutes tramping in circles, trying to zero out the GPS on a very steep slope. We finally called it "good enough" as we both needed to get back to work, within 5 meters of the Spot of Centered Bliss. I could not find the geocache that I had spotted on a previous trek.
Once at the spot, we took several gloomy pictures including our favorite of a fire-charred tree to the northwest, as well as a movie. I was proud to have accompanied Diana on her first confluence trek and we vowed to try another trek in more favorable conditions. The temperature was about 62 F (17 C) under overcast skies. We saw no animals and few birds, and definitely no other hikers. We spent about 10 minutes documenting the event.
Next, we headed north to the ravine bottom, and up the other side. It was a bit easier hiking up than down. We then hiked down to the west. And yet the adventure was not quite over, because we once again were on the wrong trail. The trail descended into a gully, and then on the other side, reversed and started back up the slope toward the east. We then backtracked to the last fork in the trail, and took that one into a different gully. After 10 minutes we found a side trail that led to the south, and after it bent also to the east, found ourselves back near the location where the earth had been turned up. Only then did we know the rest of the way would be a bit easier. We arrived back at the vehicle very muddy and wet, and proceeded to drive back to Redlands discussing Life and Geography. As is typical of these treks, a bit unexpected but a great morning and a most fitting beginning to the week of working on GIS and GPS in education with 30 wonderful educators from 3 countries.