29-Jan-2001 -- I stumbled upon this website while I was doing some research on longitude and latitude
measurements for a project I was working on at the US Department of Transportation in Chicago. I
found the confluence point project to be very interesting and checked to see if there were any
confluence points that hadn’t been visited in the vicinity of Tehachapi, California. Why Tehachapi
of all places? Well, I was flying out to Tehachapi in December to visit my friend Henry who runs
Home-4-Less out there. We had plans to drive up to the Mammoth Hot Springs and then on to
Lake Tahoe for New Years. Fortunately for us, there was one confluence point along our route
which hadn’t been visited yet: 36N118W! It was the perfect little adventure for the two of us to
go on, especially since I had never been hiking out West in the low desert and because Henry
recently finished his bachelor's in Geology and is an avid 'rock hound.' And so, equipped with
my cameras and Henry's compasses and rock hammer, our search for 36N118W began!
The confluence point of 36N118W is located at the southern end of Inyo County, California. At the intersection of Interstate 395 and Sykes Road, we made a turn and headed southwest on Sykes Road until we reached an old gauging station by the Pacific Rail Road tracks. At that point we began to follow a rocky dirt road as it twisted its way further southwest among the hilly low desert terrain. We bumped along this trail until we found ourselves near Portuguese Canyon. At that point we were forced to abandon the vehicle and take to finding the confluence point by foot. Topographically, we were able to determine the approximate area in which the confluence point was located. This area was between Portuguese Canyon (to the north) and Fine Canyon (to the near south). Therefore we proceeded to hike southwest until we reached a point where Fine Canyon was within view.
Given that 36N118W is located in an area of plain geography (meaning that no topographical high point, stream cut or significantly sharp rise in elevation directly exists at that point), Henry, the resident geologist, referred to the topographic map to locate two topographically significant points from which to triangulate ourselves. Using a plastic compass, he found that that there was a dry lakebed on the topographic map located at exactly 45 degrees northeast (NE) of the confluence point. Thus, he used a Brunton compass to shoot an imaginary line to that dry lake bed from where we were standing and kept adjusting our position until we were located exactly 45 degrees southwest (SW) of the dry lake bed.
Now, to find the exact location of the confluence along that 45-degree line from the dry lakebed, we needed to cross localize it with another point. Therefore, Henry looked on the topographic map for another geographic feature that we could visually identify from the point we were standing at. He chose a mountain peak that was 40 degrees northwest (NW) of the confluence point. We adjusted our location along the 45 SW line until we reached a point where we were standing on two imaginary lines: 45 NE to 45 SW and 40 NW to 40 SE. At this point we had found the confluence point of 36N118W.
36N118W is located at approximately 1,800 feet above sea level and would be considered ‘low desert’ or ‘lower bajada’. The flora of this relatively arid spot consisted of various sage brushes, yucca, and dried wildflower patches. No living animals were observed, other than a lone fly who managed to shatter the tranquil silence which surrounded us. The skeletal remains of what we believe to be a goat were found in Portuguese Canyon. Within the vicinity of this particular region we were able to see obtrusions of Mesozoic granite and dark volcanic obsidian shards.