11-May-2014 -- I was returning from the Wyoming Social Studies conference, where my focus had been on mapping, fieldwork, GIS, and GPS technologies. Therefore, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone. After a nice walk around Newcastle, Wyoming, I drove south along US Highway 85. The skies darkened and rain began to fall, followed by a wet snow, and a great deal of wind. At Hat Creek Road I reached my turn-to-the-east, long anticipated, junction.
I gazed to the east, where the confluence point lay. With the road being dirt without much gravel, the weather rapidly deteriorating, snow falling, and reports of deep snow to the south, where I would be traveling next, I decided to abandon my quest. I am glad I did, for not long afterward, along US Highway 85, I encountered even more snow, part of the Mother's Day 2014 blizzard, which closed roads across Wyoming, including this very same highway, forcing me to detour into Nebraska and requiring a 12 hour road trip to make it back to Colorado. These snowstorms can and do happen, and moisture in the semiarid west is always appreciated. However, it is best to at least be on a major road during one of them, or even better, in a house, rather than attempting a confluence in a very remote area.
In retrospect, there is no way I could have made it to the confluence from this approach in a standard vehicle. Hat Creek Road looked fine from US Highway 85, but a few miles to the east, deteriorates to nothing more than a track. A four-wheel drive vehicle would gain a person a few more miles, but according to the satellite images, the track ends quite a few miles west of the Nebraska border, and from there, it would be a few more miles to hike in to the point. The grasses here are high and filled with holes and prickly pear cactus, and so even a mountain bicycle would be inadequate. I became convinced that the proper attempt on this point needed to be from Harrison, Nebraska, to the south of the point. And I was determined to make the attempt someday. In the meantime, though, I was in the midst of what turned out to be a 13 hour drive back to Colorado, with a detour into Nebraska a few hours later, because of the blizzard. Still, it was great to be out in the wide open spaces!