10-Dec-2000 -- I've been wanting to visit a confluence point ever
since I read about the project on sci.geo.satellite-nav.
What do you do if you live in the same town as a few very
active confluence hunters ? Simple -- expand your scope.
Since the confluence points close to Karlsruhe (49N8E,
49N9E, 48N8E) have all been visited resp. attempted, we decided
to try one a little further away, at 50N 9E, close to Aschaffenburg.
This one looked easy on the map -- just a few dozens of meters
away from the road. The simplest way to get to the confluence point
would have been to leave the car at the closest point and walk there --
but you better don't do that on the A3 Autobahn ! It looked as if there
was a way to get close via a local road in Mainhausen, so that's what
we set as our target. The weather was nice (not great but OK) this
Sunday morning as well, so off north we went, with the Garmin GPS
and Biblo Notebook with GPS-enabled route planner software to guide us.
After about an hours' drive, it started raining, and I suddenly noticed
that I forgot to bring a plastic baggie to protect the eMap GPS against
water -- as it isn't waterproof. Oh well, think positive -- it still might stop
raining before we arrive ...
We arrived in Mainhausen after a 2 hours drive, and found the small
local road without a problem -- we were glad to notice it even was a surfaced
road we could drive our car on ... for a minute or two -- the road let across a
level crossing and into a forest, where it was blocked by a barrier and a sign
said "Private road, forestry adminitration use only." According to our
map, the confluence point was only a kilometer away, so we would walk. After
we got out of the car, it indeed stopped raining slightly ... and started to pour.
As soon as we had to leave the forest track and ventured into the
undergrowth I noticed I forgot to bring something else: a compass. When you
stop walking or haven't got a good fix because of trees blocking the GPS signals,
you lose your bearing and don't know where to go to get closer to the confluence.
We solved that problem by not stopping -- I think the technique is called
"navigation by walking around" :-)
The rain had its advantages -- there was nobody else to see us walking
around off the beaten path, through mud, wet grass and high undergrowth, religiously
watching some strange device (a mobile phone ? a calculator ? a TV remote
control ?) looking for God knows what.
As I was iterating watching the position display close in towards 50N 9E, Erika
suddenly exclaimed: "somebody has been here!" How does she know, I
wondered. And then I saw it - right where I was standing: an "xyz axis" made
of three logs - two lying on the ground at right angle, one planted vertically. The two
on the ground were appropriately labelled "50" and "9" in yellow
fluorescent paint. I ignore who erected this marker, but I was glad to see it as it did
confirm we came to the right spot -- our first confluence!
Back home, we celebrated it with a glass of sparkling wine - we may wait for
better weather and have a few more accessories with us the next time, but a next
time there will be.