26-May-2001 -- After visiting the confluence at 40N 107W, I headed north on highway 131 and highway 40 to Steamboat Springs, where I had something to eat. I then drove to Steamboat Lake State Recreation Area and found the road (forest road 129) going north into Routt National Forest. It soon turned to dirt. The road goes through the very small town of Columbine, which is basically a group of tourist cabins and a general store.
The road turned northwest and entered the private property of The Three Forks Ranch, a large spread that runs along the Little Snake River and the confluence of the North, Middle, and South Forks of that river. I took forest road 551 to the northeast. A young prairie dog was walking around his burrow hole, which was in the middle of the road, and was checking out his nearby sibling, who hadn't survived an encounter with a vehicle. I went around him carefully so he wouldn't join his brother in the afterworld. I then turned off onto road 508, which I was thinking would take me to about a mile southwest of the confluence.
This road was just wide enough for one vehicle and was deeply rutted. A short distance down the road was a large mud puddle that I wasn't going to try to negotiate even in four wheel drive. I pulled off into a clearing where two full-size pickups, one with an all-terrain vehicle in the bed and towing a large trailer with a dirt bike on it, were parked. It was amazing the drivers got down the road. No one was around. It was cloudy and pleasantly warm.
I hiked up the road around a few switchbacks and started bushwhacking about 0.8 miles to the southwest from the confluence. The woods were dense and I followed a tributary of the Middle Fork, sometimes using animal trails. Down in a ravine, the GPS had occasional trouble getting a fix. I crossed the stream and went up a slope to the confluence point and spent about half an hour getting a good average of the intersection. It was about 6:00 p.m. when I arrived.
The confluence point appears to be at the edge of a small clearing and is shown in the first picture. The point where the GPS settled down is in the right front foreground, where you may be able to make out the GPS on a weed-covered log. The elevation is about 8300 ft (2530 m). The next four pictures show the view to the north, up the slope, from the confluence point; the view to the east across the clearing; the view to the south toward the stream; and the view to the west. I walked about 100 feet south of the confluence point into a large clearing and took a picture of the view to the southwest. The three mountains, as far as I can tell from the forest map, are Columbus Mountain on the left (10204 ft, 3111 m), Piney Mountain in the center (9315 ft, 2840 m), and Three Forks Mountain on the right (9096 ft, 2773 m).
I put on an additional pair of socks since my feet had blisters on the blisters from the hike earlier in the day, and went back the way I came. I saw three deer along the road and made it back to the starting point at 7:00 p.m.