27-May-2000 -- For my 25th birthday (which, this
year, fell on Memorial Day), I decided I would give myself the gift of
my first confluences.
Three friends and I departed Seattle on Saturday, May 27, 2000, and
headed for Oregon and a three day weekend of confluence hunting.
First up: 45N, 121W, located conveniently near a highway in arid
Eastern Oregon just east of the Cascade Range.
We approached the confluence from the south, heading up US 197 from
its junction with US 97. The rolling farmland had given way to the
sagebrush and scattered small trees of range land. Shortly past mile
marker 60 on US 197, we pulled onto a short (about 100 feet long) dirt
road to the west. Not only was this an easy, safe place to park, it was
also a break in the barbed wire fence which flanked both sides of the
highway. Our maps and GPS told us the confluence was on the west side
of the highway. This was fortunate, because unlike the fence to the
east of the road, the western fence did not have any "No
Trespassing" signs. It was difficult to tell, but on our map it
looked as though the area to the west might be within the Deschutes
River National Recreation Lands. This gave us enough confidence to hike
directly to the confluence.
Where we had pulled off turned out to be nearly a mile north of the
confluence; we ended up hiking that distance south, paralleling the
highway the entire time, rarely more than a few hundred yards away from
it. At a few points we got a brief view of a dramatic canyon to the
west, at the bottom of which lay the Deschutes River. This land was
definitely cattle range land; dirt was nearly saturated with cow
hoof-prints from the last time the ground had been muddy. All around us
we heard crickets chirping. After crossing a very small creek that led
into the canyon, we easily found the confluence on the side of a small
hill overlooking the highway.
Only upon our return, walking along the highway, did we notice a few
ticks on our clothing. In retrospect, we should have expected them, but
we'd spent too much time living west of the Cascades to worry about such
things. We brushed them off and found a few more back at the car,
luckily catching all of them before any had a chance to bite. On the
walk back, we also spotted what appeared to be a small rattlesnake
crossing the highway. On our hike we'd seen numerous small holes which
could easily have been rattlesnake nests, and we all guessed in the back
of our heads that this was probably rattlesnake country, but didn't give
it that much thought in our enthusiasm for reaching the confluence. We
returned to the car, feeling quite lucky and appreciating the gentle
lesson Mother Nature saw fit to teach us city folk. Next time we go
confluence hunting east of the Cascades, we'll be more cautious.