18-Sep-2022 -- As I was in the state of Oklahoma to give the keynote address at the SCAUG regional GIS conference, and as the week would also include workshops and presentations at two universities with a focus on geotechnologies, I thought that a confluence visit would be the perfect way to start the week. And so, on a very bright, hot, windy day during the last few days before the autumnal equinox, I had already visited the confluence of 35 North 99 West. Now that this point had been visited, I was faced with a decision--should I aim for 35 North 100 West as well? I had long wanted to visit this point, because (1) It is on a state boundary, which adds to the interest for this geographer, (2) 100 West is a significant line in the USA and one discussed in hundreds of geography courses, and (3) it seemed amazing that this point had not been visited since 2001--over 20 years ago, and I wanted to update the narrative and photos.
Thus, after traveling through Hobart, and passing some of the southwestern Oklahoma hills dotted with some amazing exfoliation domes and state parks, which I made mental note to visit someday, I was by noon making good progress toward 35 North 100 West. The population in southwestern Oklahoma is not large, but I passed through some wonderful tiny towns such as Reed, Oklahoma, fields, and hills. I had some water with me from Hobart. I drove west from State Highway 30 on E 1400 Road, immediately thinking "was this a smart thing to do?" The reason: The road was a one lane trail, traversing up and down the hills through land dotted with juniper, mesquite, and many rocks. Fortunately it was not wet, or I would not have attempted it, plus, I had an SUV vehicle which did pretty well. I drove into Texas, then north along Road 295, down the ravine, up the other side, and came to a stop. I parked west-southwest of the confluence with .47 miles indicating for the hike. I began the trek down a slight slope, heading east-northeast. I skirted the heaviest of the plants and crossed a few cattle trails and one jeep trail. All the while I watched for snakes and also wondered: Would I be able to get down the ravine ahead of me?
On these 25 years of confluence treks, I group them in 3 categories--those that are about as difficult as I expected them to be in the planning beforehand, those that ended up being more difficult, and those that are less difficult. This point ended up being less difficult than I anticipated. Why? Because I could see that the ravine ahead was steep, to be sure, but quite doable. There were some loose rocks and soil, but without that much difficulty I crossed 100 west, south of the point. I then looped north and then downslope again and was in a few minutes at the point, very close to the bottom of the ravine.
I had a clear view of the GPS constellation despite being near the bottom of the ravine. The temperature was about 98 degrees F - hot, just after noon on a Sunday. As the Oklahoma song says, the winds were literally sweeping down the plains, but not as windy here in the gully. It was amazing that this point had not been visited in 21 years, but it was admittedly away from any major highways. It was a great, lonely spot; I saw no people, few birds, but no animals. There was a great diversity of plants here on the landscape. I thought about the Comanches and other Native Americans who have traversed this land, and the settlers who gave up and those who stayed. Staying would be a challenge: It would be difficult to grow or graze anything in this terrain. Still, it was a beautiful place. I wondered if anyone had stood here in a tie before. Plus it was one of my geography ties!
I have stood on 35 north numerous times over 25 years, from California on the west to North Carolina on the east, and on 100 West from North Dakota on the north to Texas on the south. I have a nice collection of Oklahoma confluence points on every line of latitude from 34 to 37 north in the state. In fact, I have visited the point due east of this one, earlier today, and the one due north of this point. I have a vast swath of unexplored confluences in the Texas panhandle to the southwest of this point, which I must explore someday, though I do have a few west of Lubbock. This was my 2nd Oklahoma confluence since 2017 and I was glad to be back. After taking photos, I filmed a video and it is located on my
Our Earth channel, here. After 10 minutes on site, maybe 15, I hiked out the way I came in, without difficulty. The round trip hike time came in just about an hour. Just before I reached the vehicle, my arm brushed a plant that made it immediately sting all the way down. Fortunately I had some hand sanitizer in the vehicle which helped immensely.
I was tempted to drive north and then join I-40 in Texas, but when I entered the vehicle, I had no maps or cell service, so I decided to drive out the way I came in on a road where I knew what the conditions were. Plus, I had work to do finalizing my presentations and workshops for the week, in Oklahoma City. I drove east, then north on highway 30, and then to Old US 66 and I-40, then east. It was a great day and a perfect beginning to the geospatial week.
Get out there and explore!