the Degree Confluence Project

United States : Pennsylvania

6.1 miles (9.8 km) WNW of Linntown, Union, PA, USA
Approx. altitude: 173 m (567 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap topo aerial ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 41°S 103°E

Quality: good

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

#2: back the way I came #3: blackberries (almost)! #4: beaver dam #5: lacerated legs

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  41°N 77°W (visit #1) (incomplete) 

#1: in the right direction

(visited by j proctor)

24-Jun-2000 -- On a recent road trip to Pittsburgh, I figured I'd nab this one confluence that was still unvisited in the middle of a long line along 41°N that had been bagged already. I really did make a valiant effort to reach it. But I was alone and less prepared than I thought, so it was not to be. There were miles and miles of Mennonite cornfields in every direction, but the confluence is in a muddy, swampy thicket of briers and wild blackberries. Fortunately, I can post a few lessons here for anyone else that wants to try it.

Things I already knew, that you should keep in mind, too:

  • Waterproof boots are good. Heavy rains two days before left the area very muddy.
  • Visiting when the people that live nearby are home is good. Unfortunately I wasn't this lucky, nor gutsy enough to traipse through their yard on the chance that they wouldn't get home before I was done. I figure it's probably easier to introduce your way onto someone's land than explain your way off it. Especially since there's a federal prison a couple miles away.
  • Waterproof (or at least water-resistant) camera and GPS receiver are good. Especially if you have to set them down on the sloping bank while you put your boots back on (see #4 below).

Things I learned trying to visit this confluence:

  1. Unless your idea of fun is plunging into a mass of chest-high weeds only to discover they're concealing waist-high briers and wild blackberries, I recommend visiting between November and March. If this is your idea of fun, the blackberries start getting ripe around the third week of June, and will likely peak around the beginning of July. Enjoy.
  2. Wear jeans. Preferably some that you don't mind a few snags in (see #1 above). Pic #5 shows my lacerated legs afterwards.
  3. Wear long sleeves (at least) or a coat. An old denim jacket's probably the best idea. I'm 6'2" (188 cm), and it was easier to go under some of the larger, taller briers (as big around as my little finger, with half-inch thorns) than try to push them out of the way. Again, obviously, go with something that won't be ruined if it gets snagged (see #1 above).
  4. Wear gloves (see #1 above). Alternatively, before you grab around the trunk of a small tree to steady yourself, check to make sure there aren't any caterpillars there. The only thing that likes that slimy, squishy feeling less than you is the caterpillar.
  5. You have to cross the stream, and the bottom is uncomfortably rocky. Bring some Teva-like sandals (that is, waterproof with sturdy ankle and toe straps). Mine were in the car, and by the time I got to the stream I didn't want to go back. Loop the velcro strap through your belt or something like that.
  6. Your water-resistant GPS receiver stinks as a compass, or at least it does in woods that are so thick that you can't get a good signal but once every few minutes. If you forget yours at home, go back out to Route 15 and turn south towards Lewisburg. There's a Wal-Mart down there somewhere. It's worth the delay and the couple of bucks to get a cheap compass.
  7. Similarly, if you forget the detailed map of the area that you printed out, go to the Wal-Mart. They carry the DeLorme Atlas, which is good enough to at least find the closest road. I actually scouted this one on my way to Pittsburgh, but I didn't have the good map and didn't really know how long it would take to make the rest of the trip, so I didn't spend a lot of time looking around (turns out I was still a mile away). While in Pittsburgh, I remembered to buy a map. But not a compass.
  8. Bring a friend, preferably one with which you've been known to "share a brain". Mutual encouragement is a powerful thing, and can overcome much of what a single mind considers blatant stupidity. Additionally, the friend can help read the map, and have his hand on the camera if you spot a badger waddling along the side of the road. Sorry. No photo of that.
  9. Bring a small notepad and mechanical pencil. You'll forget all of this stuff if you wait until you get the film developed to post your experience.

So, I gave up about 200 m away from the confluence. Photo #1 is taken from a large tree stump, aimed in the right general direction. Note that's not a clearing; those are the chest-high weeds I mentioned earlier. Pic #2 is back the way I came, also from the stump, and #3 shows some blackberries. #4 shows the beaver dam on the stream (I think I just missed the beaver).

 All pictures
#1: in the right direction
#2: back the way I came
#3: blackberries (almost)!
#4: beaver dam
#5: lacerated legs
ALL: All pictures on one page