the Degree Confluence Project

United States : California

22.0 miles (35.5 km) W of Westmorland, Imperial, CA, USA
Approx. altitude: 301 m (987 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreetMap topo aerial ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 33°S 64°E

Accuracy: 5 m (16 ft)
Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: View North (towards the Salton Sea, far in the distance) #3: View East #4: View South #5: View West #6: All zeros!

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  33°N 116°W (visit #7)  

#1: The confluence point lies on this steep, rocky hillside, about 1000' above the surrounding desert

(visited by Ross Finlayson)

11-Oct-2012 -- As I visited more and more of California's many degree confluence points, this remaining unvisited confluence point kept intriguing me. It appeared to be in a beautiful, but remote, location, requiring a difficult hike/climb to reach the point.

I was finally able to take time (while on a trip to San Diego) to visit this point. From I-8, I drove north from Ocotillo (on County Route S2) past Agua Caliente Springs (which looks like it'd be a pleasant wintertime destination), then turned right (eastward) on Highway 78, eventually reaching the settlement of Ocotillo Wells (a prominent OHV site). Then it was south on Split Mountain Road, then (before reaching the gypsum mine) I turned left onto a dirt/sand road that followed along the left-hand (i.e., northern) side of the mine's railway line. This road was very sandy in places; a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is probably necessary to avoid getting stuck in the sand. After several miles of driving, I parked at the 116 degree west line of longitude - about 0.8 miles north of the confluence point, which I could tell lay high-up in the imposing-looking rocky hills (the "Fish Creek Mountains").

In the foreground I noticed a prominent ridge that appeared to climb towards the confluence point. This ridge was used by some of the previous visitors, so I decided to use it as my route towards the point. (An alternative route would be to climb up the wash that curls up towards the confluence point from the west; this is the route that I took on my way back down.)

Beforehand, I knew that I'd be climbing over lots of rocks, but I was surprised at just how many rocks I had to deal with. Rocks, rocks, and more rocks - with little 'soil' (and almost no vegetation). These mountains appear - on the surface, at least - to be little more than piles of boulders, formed (i presume) by millennia of freeze/thaw cycles and earthquakes.

After a slow climb along the ridge top (across many large and often loose boulders), the terrain leveled out, but I then discovered that I needed to do a little more climbing/scrambling up another steep hillside to reach the confluence point, which lay on a steep rocky slope. I quickly got 'all zeros' (but without WAAS reception, because the hillside was blocking the WAAS satellite to the south). The view to the north was spectacular, with the Salton Sea visible in the distance. I didn't see the 'geocache' box found by Marshall Clow and David Kaplan in 2006 (but I didn't look particularly hard for it; I don't like artificial things bespoiling confluence points!).

Finally, a warning. This visit (like most of my confluence visits) was solo, but hiking here is quite risky, and I don't recommend that future visitors try to visit this point alone. Many of the boulders (even the large ones) on the hillsides here are quite loose, and a few of them got dislodged as I climbed over them. If a dislodged boulder were to strike you as you climbed (or if you fell while stepping on a loose boulder), you'd risk serious injury. If I ever visit this point again, I'll do so as part of a team, for safety.

 All pictures
#1: The confluence point lies on this steep, rocky hillside, about 1000' above the surrounding desert
#2: View North (towards the Salton Sea, far in the distance)
#3: View East
#4: View South
#5: View West
#6: All zeros!
ALL: All pictures on one page