11-Sep-2001 -- As I drove west across northwestern New Mexico early on 11 September 2001, more details on the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington filled the radio. I drove on, stunned like so many others. Should I be continuing to do something fun, while thousands of people were dying in New York? But I could do nothing about it, I had come prepared to conquer the confluence, and I was a long ways from home enroute to field work. So I continued on.
This confluence is 115 meters north of the Colorado/New Mexico state line on the Ute Mountain Reservation. It is a bit more than a mile south of US Highway 160, but only 300 m north of the south bank of the San Juan River on the Navajo Nation, and I have a permit to be on the Navajo Nation and none for the Ute Mountain Reservation. So when I left Santa Fe I brought along my whitewater solo canoe. I drove past the turnoff to the Four Corners Monument, turned east and followed track roads to the bank of the river, 600 m at 42° from the confluence. I took the canoe off the truck, carried it down a steep bank and ferried a large eddy and 15 m of current to the other side, or so I thought. I headed directly toward the confluence, but found that I was on a large island separated from my goal by a narrow (10 m), but deep channel. Back to the canoe, back across the river, up onto the truck. I drove east along more faint tracks through sand (4X4 required) to a point directly south of the confluence. This time I had to carry the canoe 100 m, ferry 60 m of river (Picture 2), then walk overland the last 220 m to the confluence. This time Mapsource found the confluence and my "confluence grass clump" to be indistinguishable (Picture5).
The views from the confluence are best to the south. Southwest are the Carrizo Mountains in NE Arizona (Picture 3), southeast the top of Ship Rock (at 3X telephoto) is visible (Picture 4). In both pictures the scattered cottonwoods along the San Juan River are visible. To the north a few hundred meters is a steep slope topped by a small sandstone cliff (Picture 1).
After returning to the pickup, I drove to and paid $2 to reach the Four Corners Monument (Picture 6), with the state line(s) pointing east toward the confluence.
It was an interesting and distinctive approach to a confluence, taking advantage of my Navajo permit and my years of canoeing experience. But throughout it all the pall of smoke from the Twin Towers in New York hung over me and stole the thrill of conquest.