24-Feb-2023 -- As I was in the state of Wisconsin to visit three universities to support their use of Geographic Information Systems, and as I was in Baraboo to participate in the annual conference of the Wisconsin Land Information Association, and as the conference had just concluded, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone to a week of geotechnologies and solving land-based problems. The main challenge was that it had been snowing for three days straight and the temperature stood at about 20 F. Would a confluence visit be possible?
I decided that given the fairly close proximity of roads, that 44 North 90 West was at least worthy of the attempt. It had only been visited a few times in the past, actually only twice before, the last time being 16 years ago, thus adding to its appeal. Hence after the conference ended, and with a hasty addition of some clothing layers, I set off from the conference site to the northwest. After about 40 minutes, I exited interstate 90/94 at Mauston Wisconsin and drove north on Highway 58. I then drove north west across a frozen arm of the Wisconsin river, but the roads were so far quite passable with just a few icy spots. I reached road N9793 and came to a stop on Highway G. I gingerly and very slowly drove west on the snow packed lane but the no trespassing signs were making me nervous. There was only one sign on the road itself and not the field to the north but even so, I eventually made a U-turn and drove back to County Highway G. I considered parking right there but I didn’t want the vehicle to get stuck in the snow that was piled all around. Thus I drove to the north west the curved part of the road that is shaped the way it is because of the bend in the river just to the north. After some back-and-forth and debating in my mind, I finally parked near a fairly plowed space where the lane goes north and one can take a boat to the edge of the river.
After quickly gathering supplies, I set off to the south. I knew it wasn’t going to be long before my feet started to freeze, having no hiking boots on this work trip, but I was hoping that the trip would be short enough that I could avoid such discomforts. Fortunately I had my hat and gloves and a coat. But any dreams about avoiding discomfort were shattered within the first few yards of trekking into the trees. The snow was only about a half a foot deep but I don’t know when I’ve seen so many thorns… Thorns on all the branches extending up to my shoulders in places. I tried to avoid the worst of the thorns. I ended up zigzagging quite a bit and thus the hike was much longer than I expected because of all the zigzagging. Eventually though I neared the desired point in an area that was blessedly a bit freer of the thorns under the taller pines. I was surprised that I was able to zero out the unit after only about 10 minutes given the heavy tree cover.
The confluence therefore lies on level ground under a fairly big stand of Pines. The view was about the same in all directions. It was a lovely spot and given its proximity to nearby roads I was surprised that it had not been visited in some years. No doubt it is beautiful in all seasons but it was nice and still when I was there after we had had three days of snow this week. It was about 20°F —Late winter and late afternoon in Wisconsin. I saw no birds and no deer… Just a few rabbits. I posted a video with sound on my channel here.
I have stood on 44 North many times in the past, from the western USA on the west side all the way over to Maine and New Hampshire on the east side. I also stood on 90° many times from Wisconsin on the north down to Illinois, and further to Louisiana on the south. This was my first confluence of 2023 after a four month hiatus and I was glad to be back. About six months earlier, I was on a point that was 1° south and 1° west of here on a very hot day in a completely different season. I didn’t stay long today because of again the danger of my feet freezing and what would soon be nightfall but I enjoyed my time there. I followed my footsteps for most of the way out… Once again getting into the thorns. But I didn’t freeze as much as I thought I would and so after I emerged onto the road to the north I had a pleasant hike down to the riverbank and observed some very nice birds and the stillness of the late afternoon. Not another soul was around. And on the road only two cars passed me the whole time I was walking. Get out there and explore!