the Degree Confluence Project

United States : Wisconsin

6.2 miles (9.9 km) SE of Phelps, Vilas, WI, USA
Approx. altitude: 533 m (1748 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap topo aerial ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 46°S 91°E

Quality: good

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

#2: The GPS doesn't lie! #3: View East #4: View South #5: View West (kinda look the same, don't they!) #6: Me on the NAD27 confluence

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  46°N 89°W (visit #1)  

#1: View North

(visited by Mike Overholt and Kim Overholt)

17-Mar-2001 -- My wife, Kim, and I had been talking about trying to find this confluence for several weeks and decided that this would be the weekend to do it! We started out at about 10:30am on a beautiful, sunny morning at the Spectacle Lake campground in the Nicolet National Forest in Northern Wisconsin. The campground was closed for the season, so we parked on the road in front of the locked gate.

There's a hiking trail that starts at about the middle of the campground and goes to another campground on nearby Kentuck Lake. We knew from looking at the map that it should take us close to the confluence. For the first 1/2 mile or so snowshoe travel was made easy by the recent passage of a snowmobile. The hiking trail then crossed a snowmobile trail and from that point on, there had been no recent traffic of any kind, but it was still easy to follow. After another 1/4 - 1/2 mile we crossed a bridge over a small creek. There was about 18" of packed snow on the bridge! Shortly afterwards we decided that the trail wasn't taking us in the correct direction any longer, so we struck out across out cross-country using a compass and the GPS.

This was were we started to pay for the easy travel up to this point! With the 40°F degree temperatures of the day (and the prior several) the snow was soft, heavy and wet. Even with snowshoes, we sank 6-12 inches with every step. Throw in a steep hill, uneven terrain and buried trees & brush that seemed to grab your snowshoes on every step and we were working up a pretty good sweat in no time!

Finally, at almost exactly noon, we reached our destination in a quiet valley between two snow-covered ridges. Kim pulled out the camp stove to whip up a little lunch while I went about trying to get a picture of the GPS that showed the coordinates of the confluence. I couldn't believe how long it took to get the numbers exact! Lat would be right on, but Long would be off by +0.1 sec. so I'd move the unit a few inches and give it a little time to stabilize; now Long was just right and Lat was off by a couple tenths! Finally, I got the picture I needed (photo 1) just about the time the soup was ready (honest, I wasn't trying to get out of helping make lunch!!)

After lunch I took pictures in each of the cardinal directions (photos 2-5) and then decided to try a little experiment. I reset the datum on the GPS to NAD27-CONUS which corresponded to the datum reference on the USGS 1:24,000 scale map we were using and set out to find the map confluence. A few minutes late, Kim (still standing on the WGS84 confluence) took a picture of me standing on the NAD27 location (photo 6) about 35-40 feet to the WSW.

Having accomplished what we'd set out to do, we packed up and started retracing our path back to the car. We hadn't gone more than 50 yards when we heard to sound of approaching snowmobiles and then saw several of them zoom by along the top of the low ridge no more than 100 yards from the confluence spot. Apparently, the trail we'd crossed a couple hours earlier swung around and came very close to our destination. If we'd only known on the way out, we could have had an easier walk of it!!

We followed our own trail back to the car and drove home happy (that we'd accomplished our objective) and a little sunburned (who'da thunk it, on the last official weekend of winter!)

Additional photos and information at: http://webpages.charter.net/mover/Confluence/46N_89W.htm.

 All pictures
#1: View North
#2: The GPS doesn't lie!
#3: View East
#4: View South
#5: View West (kinda look the same, don't they!)
#6: Me on the NAD27 confluence
ALL: All pictures on one page