12-Nov-2019 -- This was my fourth of five confluences in 24 hours in Western Nebraska. I was up at the crack of dawn, traveling west from Mullen along N-2. Just beyond the town of Ashby I turned south onto Abbott Road (a paved one-lane), crested a hill, startled a lone pronghorn on my left, and descended into the vast and beautiful Larkin Valley where the confluence lies. There is a large sign for Rex Ranch at the entrance and I was fortunate enough to encounter ranch controller Luke Jenkins who pulled up in a pickup as I sat parked on Abbott wondering where to go to gain permission to enter the land on foot. I followed Luke’s truck to the office of the ranch manager Austin Anderson who graciously granted me access after I explained the Degree Confluence Project and specifically the 17 confluences located within Nebraska. We talked a bit about the proximity of the confluence to the seasonal lake in Larkin Valley, which was rather high for this time of year. I hadn’t brought waders but I was hoping that even if there were standing water at the site, the sub-zero temperatures the last couple nights would have frozen it sufficiently to walk on.
I parked at the ranch mailboxes and followed the southern edge of the barbed wire fenceline until branching off to the ESE to avoid any areas of standing water lurking under the dusting of snow on the ground. I reached this point along 102°W, turned due north, and hiked the remaining 300 feet across all dry land to the confluence, stepping over a loose barbed wire fence to cover the final 10 feet to the site. To my great relief the confluence point remained above water as well; 20 feet to the west and to the north the frozen lake began. I took the requisite pictures. Not a cow was to be seen in any direction, although I followed their trails for much of my journey.
The hike back with the sun at my back was simply stunning, and I watched the various birds land and take flight as the wind whipped around me in this unique part of our nation that few ever bother to stop and appreciate.
Thank you again to Rex Ranch for the permission to document this unique confluence for the first time in over fifteen years.
Back in car: 9:08am
Next confluence: 42°N,103°W
Previous confluence: 42°N,101°W