28-May-2023 -- After over 20 years and over 400 confluence visits, another opportunity arose: It had been two years since I had the opportunity to take a multi day trip just for collecting confluence points, seeing the landscape, and meeting local people. My goal was to connect my Minnesota points to the points east and south and west, in Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. To fill those gaps would require some planning but could be quite fun and doable. Thus after flying to Sioux Falls two days ago and visiting 3 points, and then to 5 points yesterday, spanning 3 USA states thus far, plus 1 more state that I flew into, I still had lots of energy and looked forward to another day in the field: Day 3 of 4.
And thus, my first stop after departing the sadly disappointing (though with a lovely Wisconsin River view and a real metal slide) campground south of Wausau was to cut to the northeast and visit 45 North 89 West. My plan was to do this and then head west, to 45 North 95 West, in Minnesota. After a last walk around the campground, I set off about 8:45am.
Every confluence visit is either as difficult as I expected, easier than I expected, or more difficult: This would prove a bit more difficult. I neared the confluence point just before 10:00am, driving due east from the town of Mattoon Wisconsin along the gravel road. I parked quite a ways west of the 89th Meridian, so I could have another walk here in the bright sunshine. After reaching 89 West, I took photos in case I would lose all GPS points and my footing before I plunged to the south into the thick growth of vegetation. I could have called it sufficient to stand on the road, because I was already within 100 meters of the point. But I dove into the forest. After 10 minutes, I had only covered about 20 meters; making extremely slow progress with stumps, water, thorns, vines, and insects. There was really very little solid ground. Fortunately, the confluence lies a short distance south of the roadway; otherwise I never would have made it. I passed a cut tree that I dubbed the "confluence stump" which ended up being about 1.8 meters north of the confluence point. I wondered who had cut the tree. After quite awhile spent zeroing out the GPS, owing to the tree canopy, I arrived on the site. I was the first visitor in 16 years!
It was mid-late morning, late spring, on a magnificent clear day, temperature about 88 degrees F (31 C). I saw no people or birds or animals, but again, some insects. The view was almost the same in every direction; I could only see a few feet in front of me. I have stood on 45° north many times in the past but it was always special to stand on a line that is halfway between the equator and the north pole. I have visited 45° north on the West Coast of United States over in Oregon across a line of many points all the way to the East Coast of the United States over in Maine. Each of these points at 45 North that I have visited, and it has to be at least 20 of them, are unique and wonderful. I have also visited 89° west several times in the past such as here in Wisconsin and on down to Mississippi on the south end. I took photos and filmed this video: 45 North 89 West, Wisconsin.
I regretted departing, as this was my last stop in this state: I did not know when I would be back in Wisconsin, and it is a truly great state. But as expected, after a very short time, more mosquitos and flies discovered where I was located. Therefore, I hiked back north as quickly as I could, which was still extremely slow going. Fortunately I was able to trudge along without dropping anything or twisting an ankle. I even managed to only get wet up to my ankles. One really has to admire anyone who used to traverse this landscape in its native state, such as the indigenous population or European settlers.
As I returned to the road, I discovered my arm was bleeding from an insect bite. I was nevertheless happy to reach one more confluence point in Wisconsin, which would be my last one for the foreseeable future. I hiked back to the vehicle, looking forward to my water bottle. Next on the order of business was to drive west for the next 3 hours into Minnesota, with one final stop at Kwik Trip. It was a great start to a day when I would eventually visit 4 confluence points: Three more this afternoon.
When the trip was all said and done, here are the final statistics:
Confluence points attempted: 15.
Confluence points successfully visited: 15.
Points where I met the local landowner = 4 of 15 points.
Miles = 1731, Kilometers = 2785.
Campgrounds = 3.
Windy confluence points: 6 of 15.
Beautiful confluence points: 15 of 15.
Kwik Trip convenience store stops = 5. Casey's = 1. Circle K = 1. Flying J = 1.
Points along 43 North 4
44 North 3
45 North 4
46 North 1
47 North 3
Points visited on Day 1 = 3
Day 2 = 5
Day 3 = 4
Day 4 = 3
Points visited in the morning = 5
afternoon = 7
evening = 3
Points visited in Minnesota = 6
North Dakota = 2
Wisconsin = 3
Iowa = 4
Get out there and explore!