14-Nov-1998 -- November 14th was a doubly successful day as my
friend, Drew, and I traversed the 41st parallel to visit the two northern New
Jersey confluence points.
41N, 74W is located in a wooded area near the Hackensack River in River
Vale, New Jersey. Neal Manson and I had attempted to visit this point on
Labor Day, but we approached it from the wrong side of the river, eventually
giving up. (see below for the previous narrative)
This time, Drew and I started from the correct side of the river. We entered
the woods from a road bridge. There was a path on the north bank (photo #2),
and we were hoping for a relatively easy trek through the forest to the
confluence point about a half mile away. Alas, about 500 feet in, the path
quickly disappeared into a mass of brambles! For the second time
that day, Drew was wounded by nasty prickers. Nevertheless, we pressed on,
making slow and deliberate progress until we finally emerged from the bushes
into more easily traversed terrain.
Moving more quickly now, we hopped over several small streams and tromped
through a thick carpet of freshly fallen leaves until the GPS receiver
finally indicated success. The confluence point itself was in a
fairly nondescript area of the woods (photo #1). After little to no human
contact for the whole day, Drew and I were surprised to hear the sound of
two all-terrain vehicles tearing around on some paths not too far from us.
Dreading the prickly return to the road, we opted instead to follow these
trails (photo #3), figuring that they would surely lead to one of the many
houses of the River Vale residents whose property bordered the woods.
Our escape back into civilization was not completely without incident,
however. At one point, the trail passed through a rather deep and wide
stream. There were some logs and an old fence which served as a makeshift
bridge, but it was a tottery crossing. On the last step, Drew slipped and
ended up with a wet foot. I was luckier, and after that final crossing, we
made our way to the end of the trail and out through the lot of a charming
suburban home (photo #4). Walking through the subdivision back to the car, we
waved and nodded to area residents, marveling at their ignorance. After all,
one of three confluence points in the entire state was located innocently in
their very backyards!
Travel-weary, we arrived back at Drew's apartment in Hoboken shortly after
nightfall to celebrate the day's double confluence victory in the grand
tradition of famous explorers everywhere: a tumbler of fine Scotch and a
(visit attempted by Scott Berk
and Neal Manson)
9/20/98 (attempted) -- Through the terraserver web site, we noticed a baseball field which was close (around 1/4 mile) to the confluence point, but on the wrong side of the river. Since the approach from the other side of the river was considerably longer through the same wooded area, we decided to hike the shorter distance to the river bank and possibly attempt a crossing.
We arrived at the ball field in the early afternoon on Labor day. The weather was nice, but the forecast called for heavy storms later that day.
We entered the woods, and quickly came upon a small stream. Could this be the river? If so, we were overjoyed, as it appeared quite passable. We found a spot where the water was shallow enough, crossed the river (photo #6) without incident, and marked the crossing position on our GPS unit and also with one of our socks. Then we started trudging our way through the dense brush, trying our best to avoid the numerous outcroppings of poison ivy.
Eventually, we reached the actual river, much wider and deeper than the last crossing (photo #5). A quick reading of the GPS unit indicated that we were 0.04 minutes too far south and 0.07 minutes too far west of the confluence point. This put us within 400 feet; close, but not officially close enough! A rope swing tied to a tree on the opposite bank taunted us - if only it was on our side, we could swing, Tarzan-like, across to our goal. But it was not to be. After walking up and down the river bank for awhile, we determined that a crossing was impossible without water-logging our clothing and cameras. We turned back, fighting our way through the brush to locate the sock-marked stream-crossing point.
Neal misstepped and slid into the water on the way back, greviously injuring one of his toes. We considered driving to the other side of the river for the longer approach, but decided that with the weather forecast, it would probably not be a good idea. Wounded in foot and pride, we admitted defeat and returned to the car. On the way home, the storm hit. Tornadoes and wind gusts of over 80 mph were reported and power was knocked out for several days, delaying the start of school in some areas. We had chosen wisely.
A return to River Vale to nail the confluence point on the nose is planned after the first killing frost takes care of the poison ivy.