20-Mar-2012 -- As I had just flown to southern California to participate in discussions and plans on geotechnologies in education, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect start to the week. Second, it was the Vernal Equinox, and I was curious to see what the nearest confluence looked like on a month when I had never seen it. I typically had visited this point in June. Third, I sought to revisit this confluence to test the possibility of doing so entirely via smartphone; in other words, without standalone GPS receivers or standalone camera. Would I be successful?
I had been to this confluence several times before, so I no longer need a map: From LAX airport, east on I-105 to I-605, northeast on I-605 to Whittier, exit at Beverly Blvd, east into the hills, where it turns into Turnbull Canyon Road. From the crest of the ridge: Skyline, Edgeridge, Athel. I saw a sign for road construction at the ridge, which had stymied one of my visits a few years ago. Would the same thing happen today? As it turned out, it was Edgeridge past Athel that was under construction, and Athel was actually the detour. Once again I marveled at the steepness of the roads and how it was possible to build anything up here--houses, powerlines, roads, waterlines. I parked at my usual spot downhill from where I knew the new house would be, which I have documented on my earlier visits.
I arrived at the confluence at about 10:15 am Pacific time. The skies were clear, but hazy, and the temperature stood at approximately 75 F. It was almost hot under the sun and on the slope. I turned on my Motion X GPS app on my smartphone and gazed up at the slope. Unlike in the past, I could not see much bare soil. Could it be that the slope was easier at this time of year with the vines largely covering it? I noticed that the new homeowner's fence did not block passage up the slope. I scrambled up and afterwards, upon reviewing the movie I filmed, was amazed to hear the "5 minute" alert speaking. Did the whole scramble only take five minutes? I was in my work clothes and did not get a single scratch. I quickly filmed movies and photographs, and took a screenshot of my GPS screen on my phone. It was impossible to zero out the GPS, owing to the fact that it takes points less frequently than a GPS unit. My phone's camera's pictures are of less quality than my regular camera, but it felt quite light to be only traveling with a phone.
I then scrambled down the slope, filming as I went. Yes, I do believe the slope was much easier at this time of year with the vines covering it. Tripping was still a hazard, and the soil was very loose, but on the whole, it was an easier trek. The total round trip time from vehicle to vehicle came in at just about 25 minutes. I posted my route as a shared webmap in ArcGIS Online. The only odd thing was that I quickly developed some sort of breathing trouble on the way down; I am not sure whether it was the smog or an adverse reaction to one of the plant species on the way, but it bothered me the rest of the day. You can hear my choking on the movie above and I am sure the movie will be a big hit.
Result: The visit was a success with a smartphone. My phone's default photo software does not take photos with as good of quality as my regular camera, and my Garmin GPS records points more frequently than my smartphone GPS app, but all in all, I was satisfied with the results. Certainly it is easier to carry one small smartphone than my larger GPS receiver and my larger camera. Visiting this point was an excellent start to the week.