27-Aug-2011 -- Following a week of GIS education meetings in southern California, I felt that a confluence visit would make the perfect capstone. Remembering that the vacant lot leading up to 34 North 118 West had been signed as "sold" the last time I had been there, I wanted to find out what, if anything, had occurred on the site. Would a new house be there? After climbing the hills on the magnificent Turnbull Canyon Road leading up to Skyline Drive in Los Angeles County, I found myself in the familiar neighborhood surrounding the confluence. Everytime I am here, I am amazed anew at how steep the hills are and how many homes have been placed amongst the steep slopes. After slowly driving down Athel Drive, I passed the spot that had closed the confluence completely a few years earlier. I parked in the usual dirt pull-off near the intersection of Athel and East Oak Canyon. It was a neighborhood I was starting to know pretty well, and I no longer needed a map to get to this confluence.
Upon walking south and up to the lot, I noticed right away that the new owner had indeed moved in. Well, sort of. There was no house yet, but a sort of makeshift camp, where the owner was lying reading a book. I gave a friendly greeting and he walked over, whereupon I showed him my sign and GPS. Interested, he gave me permission and as I made haste to scramble up the slope, hoping he would not change his mind, I called back to him that I was happy to have him accompany me. We both knew that the confluence may be located on the adjacent property but we were interested to find out.
The slope was as steep as I remembered it, but I did not recall as many ivy vines here, which made for the perfect tripping hazard. The ground was considerably less stable than the last time I had visited, and crumbled away at my feet. Fortunately, there were a few long branches to hang onto, but sadly, many extremely nasty thorns as well. Why do so many confluence points have thorns? This has to be my vote for the most difficult confluence trek in the shortest distance, if there is such a category.
After the difficult but short 10 minutes, I was rounding the bend at the trees at the summit. Despite the tree cover, was able to zero out the unit just as the owner walked up. It was midafternoon in late August, about 95 F, but did not feel too hot under the trees. We discussed the significance of the point a bit more and then I showed him the geocache that was still here, not associated with the Degree Confluence Project but with the Geocaching.Com project. He wasn't sure if the confluence was on his property. We descended after about 10 minutes, again taking great care so we did not tumble head-over-heels. At the bottom, I once again thanked him for his time and permission. We chatted about the natural hazards in the area, talking about the proper flood, earthquake, fire, and landslide protection that he should insist that his new house should have when it is being constructed.
I walked back to the vehicle and then descended the hills slowly in the late afternoon sun, and this time, even found the correct street to take to get on the Pomona Freeway heading east. Finding the street with an on-ramp is a bit of a challenge. I suppose my ability to do so now means that I am quite familiar with this neighborhood after several visits. Still, I thought that would be great to have another look here when the owner has built his house. So, maybe just one more visit...