30-Mar-2002 -- I knew this one could be a little dicy: Navajos that live in and near Monument Valley guard their privacy, which resulted in the first attempt being halted just short of the confluence, despite considerable diplomacy by my predecessor. Since I have conducted biological surveys on the Navajo Nation each year since 1996, I annually receive a tribal permit that allows me access throughout, though I do not push it. Just the day before this attempt I was denied access past a hogan near Chinle. But I also know Monument Valley fairly well, and avoided most of the pitfalls of my predecessor by approaching the confluence from the east (rather than through the Park). I did stop at one house to find out about local track roads, but did not have to show my permit (beyond saying I was doing wildlife surveys for the Navajo Nation, which I was the rest of the day) to proceed. I followed the final track generally west toward the monoliths of Monument Valley, watching the distance to the confluence tick down on my new Garmin GPS V to 0.43 miles at an earthen tank, with the compass pointing due south. I headed off on foot across the desert until the GPS ticked down to zero, then set the GPS on average and 750 points later found that I was .0003 east and .0001 south of the confluence (+/- 1 m).. WAAS is nice! I took several more averages and settled on "the" confluence. During one averaging I went up the hill to the south to take a better picture in that direction, and found a 1924 U.S.G.S. survey marker (picture 5) for the line between sections 35 and 36, that I assumed was also on the state line between Utah and Arizona (Mapsource put it still in Utah, 580 feet (176 m), mostly south (162 degrees) of the confluence. I brought back some rocks from the hill to make the monument, took the pictures, and headed back east.
This is one of the more spectacular confluences in the United States, if not worldwide. Unfortunately midday light is not the greatest for photos. To the northwest (confluence picture) from right to left are Sentinel Mesa, Big Indian Rock, Bear and Rabbit Summits, Brigham's Tomb and Eagle Mesa (background). To the south are more Monument Valley buttes and mesas and Comb Ridge, which circles miles into the east photo as well.
This was a personal "triumph" as well. Since my introduction to the confluence project in August 2002 and 5 confluence visits in September and October, I had a second set of angioplasties and, when those failed, triple bypass surgery on 1 February 2002. Six weeks later I was back in the field, and this "recreational" side trip is another sign that I am "getting my life back."