11-Jan-2014 -- My unique contribution to the set of visits to this point, many of which are mine, is that on this occasion, I approached the point from the south-southeast. In the past, I have approached this point using several routes from the west, and then via several paths from the east. Now it was a new year and time for a new method. I had just landed at the Palm Springs airport for a week of work at our company headquarters in Redlands, and was willing to spend a few hours in the field. Until yesterday, I had planned to spend my hike time at Painted Canyon east of Palm Springs, but recent reports of car break-ins spooked me and I decided against it. So now it was back to this old familiar confluence, but with a twist, as I was now to try a trail that would be in part new to me.
It was a beautiful day, just the way I imagined it to be - perfect temperature, even a bit warm, with sky perfectly blue. January is one of the best months to hike in southern California. The temperatures are often perfect and the low sun angle makes for great photographs. It was just a month after I had made another beautiful desert hike to 35 North 116 West, just one degree north and one degree east of here. I exited westbound I-10 at Beaumont and traveled north along the road where decades ago, someone had the foresight to plant several miles of cedars along both sides. Now they were mature and made for an experience that seemed like we were heading for the Acropolis in Greece, down a stately street. I hoped the trees wouldn't fall victim to development or road widening for they are truly magnificent. At Cherry Valley, I turned west on Orchard Street and then north on Mountain View. At the end of Mountain View, there is a short lane to the west, and I parked at the end of it. The curious thing about the ridge to the east of the confluence is that it is not technically open space, but rather, unprotected and thus far, largely undeveloped due to its steep slopes. Consequently there are no formal "access points" to the ridge, just trails blazed by locals. I would take one such trail.
Upon gathering supplies, and donning sunblock, I struck out to the north, climbing steeply northward along the ridge. I saw no people during my hike today until just about the end of the trip, when a lone motorcyclist passed me. During my hike, I took the opportunity to film a few video segments I needed for courses I was developing that included fieldwork. I was also collecting my track via two different methods - via a GPS and via a smartphone, for accuracy comparisons when I mapped my route in ArcGIS Online. I reached an American flag at the ridge summit, tattered with the wind and bleached by the sun, but nonetheless standing proud. Continuing northwest along the ridge, I was treated to magnificent views on all sides, but resisted the temptation to take a ridge trail to the west several times. I knew that if I took one too soon, I would end up south of the confluence and thus need to bushwhack up and down steep and thorny slopes. This is because the spines of the ridges off to the west of the main ridge trend to the southwest rather than due west. In the end, all was well: It turned out that I selected the correct trail, and while very steep and requiring very careful placement of the feet, eventually placed me about 120 meters from the confluence on the ridge to the south.
Then I began my familiar circular hike near the gully bottom and the slope to the south of the gully bottom, but as in the past, I never could quite zero out the GPS receiver. The gully is a bit of a dead zone with regards to reading the GPS satellites. I got scratched and thorns were embedding themselves in my socks. Nearing the ridge again, I almost did so, but then called it good enough. The temperature at the confluence was about 70 F under clear and magnificent skies. I have a very nice collection of confluences in southern California, and with the visiting of 35 North 116 West last month, really had no unexplored confluences in this entire region, at least on the US side. It was good to be at a confluence and this was my first visit of 2014.
For variety, even though it wasn't easy, I descended the ridge to the valley due south, and then up that ridge to the next ridgetop. No trail was here, though the ground vegetation at times was sparse, making for slippery but non-thorny stepping. After a very steep hike to the main ridgeline, I rejoined my earlier footsteps in the sandy soil and this time headed southeast. I took a few more movies, one entitled "how to unclog your arteries", one at the flag, where I was passed by the motorcyclist, and a few to support my new online GIS courses that have a field component. The valley was spread out before me and I took short steps upon the descent, but even so, slipped a few times. I could see my vehicle, far below. I reached the vehicle in midafternoon. The total hike time came in at nearly 3 hours. Thus, this was not the shortest hike route to the point, but it is one of the most scenic ways to approach the confluence. I encourage others to give it a try. Get out there and explore the Earth!