06-Sep-2015 -- I was in some serious confluence withdrawal with my last visited point some four months before, and was looking forward to what has become my annual day or two out in the field solely to visit confluence points. This year, the only time available was Labor Day weekend, a holiday in the USA, and even though the traffic would be heavier, the weekend had dawned to embark. On the first day, yesterday, I visited 4 points along 106 degrees west. Today, I had visited 3 more points, each progressively south along 106 West, and now intended to travel north along 107 West. How many could I do? It was already late afternoon when I departed 33 North 106 West.
From this point, which was south of Tularosa, I proceeded southeast to Alamogordo, and from there, southwest along US Highway 70 past White Sands National Monument. I had never visited the monument, and had always wanted to, but the next confluence point beckoned, and the sands visit would have to wait for another time. I traveled west over the mountain range and into the northern part of Las Cruces, but not stopping, turning right onto I-25 northbound. At Rincon, I exited I-25 on County Road E071. My heart sank: The road was not only gravel, but was not in very good condition, especially for a regular vehicle; i.e. not a four-wheel drive truck. I considered my options: I knew that if I had remained on I-25, I would have a long-ish backtrack at Truth or Consequences to the point. Therefore, I adhered to my gravel road plan: However, the road concerned me the entire time. In addition, the whole way up this county road, I did not encounter a single other vehicle, and this was at least an hour trek, raising concern that if I became stuck, it might be a long wait. I crossed several gullies, each time wondering if I would be able to get out of here. It is interesting--sometimes these treks turn out easier than I anticipate, and other times, more difficult. This definitely fell into the more difficult category. After what seemed like an eternity, the road eventually paralleled the railroad to the west, and became just a bit better in terms of driving conditions. And at last, not far from the Spaceport out to the east, I was never as glad to see pavement as I was at this moment. Continuing north, I made a sharp turn to the southeast along a gravel trail that led to some buildings, and parked. I gathered supplies and set out. There were no fences and I hiked due northeast for 20 minutes over bare dirt, cactus, sage, and assorted other desert vegetation until I reached the point.
The confluence lies on land that is essentially flat. It was late afternoon - about 1600 local time - in late summer--early September--a magnificent time to be outside in New Mexico. It was hot but not as hot as it could have been. Some wildflowers were still growing. Over half the ground was bare dirt. I saw no people or animals but did see and film a few well-established narrow cattle trails. I had visited 33 North numerous times in the past, from California on the west to Georgia on the east. My treks to 107 West had been fewer--from Wyoming on the north to Colorado on the south, and now here in New Mexico. This is one of the most lonely points I have ever visited in my 300+ point journeys spanning nearly 15 years. Except for what appeared to be a residence southeast of my position, there were no ranches or houses for at least an hour to the south of me, and to the northeast as well; the only nearby town was the wonderfully named Truth or Consequences, about 40 minutes' drive to the northwest. The mountains to the east were clearly visible; the wind was fairly modest. I hated to depart, but given my goals of the rest of the day, I spent only 20 or so minutes at the site.
I hiked back the way I had come in, took pictures of the cattle trail and a video as well, and then drove northwest along the gravel road to the paved road, north along it to State Highway 51, and then west to Truth or Consequences. As much as I had been questioning my method of approaching the point from the south, after traveling on the winding state highway, in retrospect, it was good that I had chosen the route I had taken: It would have taken quite awhile to go up I-25 and back on 51. I was stunned to see how low Elephant Butte Lake reservoir was in terms of the water level; part of the Rio Grande backed up into a reservoir; the boats in it seemed to take over nearly the whole of the tiny patch of surface water that still remained there. Had it been that dry of a summer? When I arrived in town, I purchased some tea and water and bought some gas. Then, I drove north on I-25 once more, in the hopes of reaching 34 North 107 West before sundown.
It was a great day and I had some great moments at this site. Get out there and explore the world!