18-Oct-2003 -- It was a sunny New England Saturday afternoon. Bill and I had spent the morning running boring errands and were planning our first confluence visit (45N 071W), for which we need our kayak and plan to attempt in the next few weeks. I turned on the gps and was playing around. The closest CP is exactly 8.38 miles due west from my desk. Not only is it practically next door, it was the second confluence visit of the entire project, AND it hadn't been visited successfully since 1996. Suddenly, we decided we needed some fresh air. How about an attempt on our local Mt. Everest? Figure out a few things: What is this really like? Could we accomplish our mission? What would we learn? (Answers: fun, yes, lots of things)
Having used our road map, a topo map and aerial photos to determine that the CP was in the middle of a small rectangle - bordered on the north by 101, east by 27 south by 111A, and west by Pine Rd. - we hopped into the car and headed west on 101, getting off at route 27. The eastern boundary was busy with traffic and a potential road we had seen on a map passed too quickly for us to react. We completed the southbound leg without getting closer than a mile. We turned right (west) onto 111A, passing lots of new development, but never got closer than 3/4 mi. We turned right again (north, this time) onto Pine Rd. Quickly the gps position closed, and we saw the factory mentioned in the previous attempt. We parked in their lot - .6 miles from the confluence! - and walked into the woods to make our approach from the west . (Wait! Remember to set the man overboard waypoint so we can find our way out! First lesson of the afternoon.)
The woods were, at first, leafy and dry. While there was no path thru the scrubby trees, we wove our way around them without too much difficulty. Woods gradually gave way to more impenetrable thorny bushes and huge piles of cut branches that we had to clamber around. Then the water table seeped up and we wandered for a bit 'till we noticed that, in that mushy terrain, a deer trail seemed to keep to the driest ground and lightest thicket - not that we saw any wildlife, but deer tracks and scat were everywhere. Just short of the confluence point, the ground rose up again to form a pine island (photo #1 is taken from this location looking east). As the aerial photo makes clear (#6), there is a stream just west of the CP. What it doesn't make clear is that ALL the ground underfoot is boggy and the grass is chest-high (well, I'm short). We found some drier footing to the south and gingerly walked S to N at exactly 71W and watched the gps settle at 43 - success!!!
We took our pictures (Second lesson: change the gps settings so you don't later have to use a magnifying glass to see the zeros in the photo) and started back (Third lesson: Remember that autumn in New England means the sun sets earlier and earlier - it was approaching dusk by the time we made it back to the car). At no time we we more than .6 miles from civilization, and we knew that houses and people (and hot water and takeout pizza and electricity and...) were around us on all sides, yet in the marsh, we could not see or hear or smell any sign. What a day!