25-Sep-2004 -- A confluence sunset and moonrise!
Sam and I were in a race with the sun. Northbound from a successful visit to 39n-115w, we turned west off US-93 towards the mining town of Cherry Creek with only 48 minutes remaining until the GPS calculated circumstance of sunset. We pondered our current situation: We had done no detailed planning for this confluence, it would soon be dark, we had to cross over to the other side of the Cheery Creek range and, the road had just become dirt.
Passing through the shantytown of Cherry Creek the road began to twist and we saw several signs warning us of blind curves and large trucks ahead. Luckily, we would not encounter a single vehicle until we were back on US-93. We came out of the pass and into the Butte Valley where the road straightened out. The aptly named Red Butte was in sight, the confluence was just to the northwest of this butte.
We were currently southeast and relying on my Toughbook with National Geographic TOPO! Nevada’s real time moving map for situational awareness. We saw two options from the 1:24,000 scale charts: northwest and clockwise around the butte (shortest) or a significant deviation to the north then west and finally, due south to the confluence. Our dilemma was that if we picked the wrong one or encountered any sort of delay, we would not make the confluence before sunset.
Choosing the shortest option, we turned on the trail directly northwest but were soon stopped short by a graded drainage preventing access to the road (trail) leading in the desired direction. Besides, if we had proceeded along this road (trail) we’d basically be bushwacking in our vehicle. It was a little over 2 miles away and too far to walk at this point leaving us with only one option. Less than 20 minutes until sunset. Rats!
We continued north until we found the road where we needed to turn. Referencing the legend, this “road” is depicted as an “Unimproved Road” My laptop confirmed we were indeed tracking along our intended route, however conditions were deteriorating by the minute. Two parallel tracks overgrown by two foot tall scrub were visible leading in the general direction of the confluence. The same conditions I had passed on earlier would now have to be crossed to reach our goal. I had never envisioned my (wife’s) Tahoe being used as a combine but that’s what it felt like as we mowed down the bushes between the tire tracks.
Nine minutes until sunset, 2.8 miles to go. It was an agonizingly slow (although my track log shows we were mowing those bushes at 23mph) trip to the closest point of approach. Unlike the previous five confluences, we would have to get out of the vehicle and do a bit of hiking for this one.
Apparent sunset arrived just before we stopped. It was almost a quarter mile sprint through dense shrub brush to the confluence to set up for our pictures. We had made it!
Picture #1 shows the general confluence area. Use your imagination to superimpose two tracks from an old road through the middle of this picture and you can see the conditions we encountered on the “road” leading here. Picture #2 looks north. Picture #3 looks east and shows the near full Moon rising. Picture #4 looks south. Picture #5 looks west towards the Butte Mountains. Picture #6 shows our GPS readings at a point midway between all zero readings for each receiver. Picture #7 shows the moon rising over the Cherry Creek Range and Red Butte in the foreground on the right. The faint shadows after sunset are still visible.
Once back at the Tahoe we had to turn around before exiting out. This path should now be a little easier for the next visitor. Any bushes between the tire tracks that were bent southwards on our approach were reset northwards on our exit. It would have been much shorter to continue south but there was that drainage ditch we couldn’t cross and the exit would be in the dark.
Roundtrip from US-93 was 52.9 miles in 2:09. On our return trip home, we stopped at geodash points GD39-AMAX, GD39-AMAM, and GD39-ALYV. Trip totals from Kramer Junction were 1364 miles in 43 hours.
Six successful confluence visits in less than 24 hours! What a tremendous confluence/geodash adventure trek! (The first visit of the trip is here.)