04-Jun-2001 -- This was to be the first of our Confluence "Hat Trick" during my visit from Illinois to Colorado. (The Avs were, after all, vying for Sir Stanley's coveted Sterling Silver Cup the week my brother and I 4-wheel skated around western Colorado.)
We stopped at the public park in Meeker to orient the GPS unit. With our bearings locked in, we proceeded south on Colorado Hwy 13. This is ranch country. Rolling hills and sagebrush dominate the landscape. Guided by the GPS and maps my brother wielded, we were directed to turn right onto Rio Blanco County Road 33 after crossing the White River. Approximately one half mile later we turned left onto County Road 67, a dirt road bordered on both sides by private property. Undaunted, and encouraged by zeroing GPS readings, we continued on 67 for about one mile. The closed gate we soon encountered, and the cattle beyond, told us that we needed to find the landowner to secure permission to finish our trek. We knew the Confluence couldn't be much further than tumbleweed's roll.
Backtracking about one half mile on 67, we saw what appeared to be a lane. With little hesitation, we proceeded up the slightly rising lane in hopes of finding human habitat and an understanding landowner. Sure enough, just ahead was the ranch house and outbuildings. The "Critter Crossing" sign on the fence led me to believe that we'd found a hospitable resident. The three dogs patrolling the area created a bit of apprehension, though. As we were making tentative moves to exit our Jeep, the ranch house door swung open and we were met with a friendly, though quizzical, greeting. As we explained our mission to Mrs. K, she smiled knowingly and said, "I know exactly the spot you're looking for. A photographer from Boston was here a year ago looking for the same place." Apparently, he was on another type of assignment but had photographed the area around this confluence. After providing us with specifics for making our way through a couple of gates and into the field of our objective, we were off.
After passing through, and carefully securing behind us, the last of the gates, our anticipation mounted like the sagebrush hills surrounding us. We drove a few hundred yards through the field until a dry gulch prevented further 4-wheel travel. No problem. Gathering our cameras, the GPS unit and our adrenaline, we bounded across the ditch as we watched the GPS hone in on 40N/108W. Within moments we were double-checking the readings to confirm our location. Yes! This was it.
Marking the exact spot with a dried cow pie, we took photos of each other on the mark and the requisite directional images. It was 4:00 pm, MDT, a temperature in the low 60's with a moderate NW breeze. Perfect in all respects.
Not wanting to overstay our welcome, we left the Confluence after about thirty minutes. I suggested that we return to the ranch to thank Mrs. K. She explained that we were on the Bar S reverse N Ranch nestled in the Josephine basin. At one time it had been the site of the Meeker Army Depot. I asked Mrs. K if she would allow me to take her photo as a memento. She graciously agreed and posed along with one of the dogs. She smiled. The dog eyed me with caution. The first goal of out Confluence Hat Trick was a success. See
41N/109W for goals two and three.
-- John Mueller