30-Aug-2013 -- Ever since my trek to 7 confluences in one day back in 2007, I have been wanting to spend a day or two in getting out into the field, having no objective other than to visit confluence points, take pictures of rural landscapes, and to get away from urban sprawl and computers. I did not realize that it would take 6 years to carve out 2 days to do this, but I was finally able to do so, here at the end of August. At 3:50am with the alarm, I awoke and was on the road by 4:05, heading out of Denver to points southeast.
The sun rose when I was between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, and I could see that it was going to be a magnificent day weatherwise; quite hot to be sure but clear and with no thunderstorms. Little did I know at the time that this long period of hot dry weather that we had been having all summer in Colorado, marked by our worst fires in the history of the state, would end about 12 days later in a series of disastrous floods. At Trinidad, I stopped to buy gas, as now I would venture into the unknown and would be quite far from any petrol stations. Unknown for me, that is, because I had never driven east on US Highway 160 before. The area, though, is rich with history, with Native American settlers, the Spanish, and the Santa Fe Trail nearby. Despite being a US highway, the roadway was overgrown on the shoulders with tall weeds, grasses, and an abundance of yellow wildflowers. It obviously did not see much traffic. To the south lay the black volcanic mesas and buttes along the New Mexico border. It was a beautiful setting. I noted a sign directing me to Trinchera, though I declined to take that road, being uncertain of its condition and having no truck, simply a car. I proceeded onward to Colorado Highway 389, turned south to Branson, and just before entering the town, turned west on County Highway 6.8. The scenery was even more beautiful now; the wildflowers were even more abundant, and I drove slowly until I crossed the railroad tracks and started on the dirt road heading directly for the confluence, to the southeast.
I slowed way down: The road was very dusty, and I was a bit concerned I would become stuck, having just a passenger car. I drove to the cattle guard marking a long east-west fence. I debated walking from this point; afterwards, I am glad I did not, for my goal was several points today, and the hike from there would have taken 2 hours round trip. As I debated whether to do so, a truck drove up. I talked with the landowner as he sat there in his truck for about 10 minutes; he was about my age and very pleasant, and he had no problem with me being in this area. We even talked about surveying, mapping, and geography, three of my main areas of interest. The landowner told me the story about the cattle guards--that the cattle sense the space under their feet and refuse to cross them. Quite an effective discovery and I would have to look into that further. I really admire these folks who live out on the rural landscapes, taking care of it, their families, and their animals and crops. Then he drove off and I followed him for awhile, but driving much faster than I, he soon literally had me in the dust. The road rose in elevation with one exception: A dip into a gully. After about 10 minutes, I parked just south of the 37th Parallel. Gathering supplies and remembering to don sunblock, I set out. Hiking was very easy but I did take care to watch for rattlesnakes and the occasional prickly pear cactus. I angled slightly north but mostly due west, arriving at the confluence in less than 10 minutes. This made this point one of the easiest of the points I have ever visited.
It was mid-morning, late summer. The temperature stood at a very pleasant 80 F, just getting a bit hot, with absolutely no clouds anywhere to be seen and very little wind. The confluence was on flat ground, sloping slightly to the west. The longest view was to the northwest, downslope, while the view to the south was just a few miles, up the canyons leading to the mesas and buttes. The vegetation was cactus, grasses, and some junipers, leading to the pines and spruces in the higher elevations. I had been to 37 North in California, Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, and over in Tunisia, and to 104 West in Colorado and Nebraska previously. This confluence made the second along the Colorado-New Mexico border that I had visited. This was my first time at this confluence. I hoped it would not be my last. Some confluences I have visited once and due to insects or thorns or other nastiness, I have no desire to return to them. But not this one: I would rank this confluence among the most beautiful of all the points I have visited. I heard a train in the distance. On the way out, I could not resist taking a few more photographs of the beautiful terrain, and a video of me crossing the cattle guard.
I drove east on the county road, stopping to take more photographs, and on to Branson, noting a pretty white church there. I then stopped a short time later to take a picture at the "Welcome to New Mexico" sign. After about 15 minutes driving south, I then drove east on a very beautiful state highway 456 that was so remote that half of it was gravel, and on into Oklahoma, seeking 37 North 103 West.