the Degree Confluence Project

United States : Colorado

12.4 miles (20.0 km) SW of Weston, Las Animas, CO, USA
Approx. altitude: 2767 m (9077 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap topo aerial ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 37°S 75°E

Accuracy: 5 m (16 ft)
Quality: good

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

#2: View north #3: View east #4: View south #5: View west #6: GPS

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  37°N 105°W (visit #3)  

#1: Looking north from a point 10 m south of the confluence. Spanish peaks in the background.

(visited by Henrik Sunden and Lennart Wikman)

05-May-2004 -- This confluence is located on the property of Tercio Ranch, a few hundred metres north of the New Mexico - Colorado border and the Vermejo Ranch, as reported by the earlier confluence hunters trying to reach it. Both ranches seem to have gated all access roads. The elevation in the area is 2,700 - 2,800 metres and the vegetation type is mountain pine forest.

The success of this attempt was made possible by the information given by the earlier hunters, thanks. Also by studying the Topozone-USGS maps and the aerial photos, that showed it should be a driveable road a few hundred meters south of the confluence. Actually the New Mexico map didn't show the road, but the aerial photo clearly did. Access to this road seemed possible either from Vermejo through Spring Canyon, or from Tercio using Country Road 13 and its continuation up an unnamed creek valley.

Lennart Wikman and I wrote to both ranches in April, 2004, to get permission to drive to the nearest point and to walk to the confluence. Vermejo answered on e-mail, but demanded much money for a two-persons-two-days stay, with escort to the desired point, starting when the ranch opened for guests on 18th May or later. Tercio's answer on e-mail didn't reach me before departure, and I didn't have any access to my home e-mailbox.

Starting from Sweden on April 21st for a 3 week tour to the southwest USA, Lennart Wikman and I arrived in a Denver late-winter snow storm, that blocked all access to dirt roads at 2,500 m elevation and higher. Our only chance to reach the point would be on the way back to Denver in early May, provided the weather changed to hot and dry and stayed so all the time until May 5th. To our great luck, it did. While we toured the national parks of SW USA, most of the snow thawed away and the dirt roads dried a lot.

When we arrived in Weston on May 5th, we phoned Mr. Charlie Womack at the Tercio ranch. He said there were no gates on the roads to the desired point, and that we could go there whenever we wanted. We drove to Stonewall, and just before this village, near an old general store, a small sign directed us on to the gravel road to Tercio. After some 5 kilometres (after the air field), the road was blocked by the gate photographed by Roland Penttila. We were still over 8 km north of the confluence. We drove back to the house before the air field, where Charlie Womack lives, and talked to him. He said land surveyors had marked a place with the exact coordinates (maybe using another geodetic datum) very close to the air field and thought we wanted to reach that marker. After a brief description of what point we wanted access to, he gave us permission to pass the gate and to drive along the desired roads, nowhere else, and to walk an estimated 300 metres to the confluence. Mr. Womack had cleared the road past the confluence from snow drifts (the highest 6 feet) two days earlier, and the road was still very slicky. Many thanks, Mr. Womack.

We drove to the gate, opened it, drove through, and closed it. The lights of the car must be shut off according to a sign at the gate. The road continued south along the broad valley, crossed a small creek and turned west when we were about 1.5 km north of the confluence. A wide area of burnt forest appeared, and road workers and loggers were working to build a new road uphill. The new road is passing about 300 m north of the confluence, but at a considerably lower elevation. Three kilometres after the turn there was a small dirt road leading uphill in the right direction. This seemed to be the right road at first glance, so we drove in to it. It immediately turned out to be a very slicky and steep road, and Lennart feared for driving into a definite stop requiring tractor towing. He also saw a large footprint with claws in the mud. I studied the map carefully and found that this road was not the right one. It must be another one 1 kilometre further west. We turned, found the right road leading east and came into the burnt forest again. Workers were logging the burnt trees and a small sawmill had been put up. Snow drifts appeared at the road side and in an uphill section, the road really was very slicky. One of the workers drove a 4WD small truck downhill, and we tried to go uphill with our rental Ford Escape. We got through, with hearts beating hard. After another km or so, the road started to go slightly downhill and we stopped 105 meters south of the confluence, with cleared burnt forest to the south and a burnt forest to the north.

Eager to reach the confluence, we started walking on firm, rather dry uphill ground, but after only 30 meters the land started to go steep downhill. The soil was black from soot, very sticky and soft, and snow covered parts of the ground. We had to grip dead tree trunks to keep the balance. Despite that, I slipped about one meter in the sooty-muddy soil and got down on one knee. The GPS became quite black, and I thought id had been damaged, but it was only soot covering it. At last we reached the confluence point, at 2751 m elevation, in the north slope of a forest fire field. I took the photos and we left the place at 11.45 a.m.

When we tried to turn the car on the dirt road, it got stuck in the hard old furrows from an earlier driver. With the gear in the reverse, it was not power enough to get out of the furrow, and going further with the forward gear would get us down in the steep and narrow ditch. We had to build a small bridge from loose cut branches over the ditch. We put them back when we had turned the car.

Back at the ranch we reported the successful result to Mr. Womack and thanked him for his cooperation. He said that a lightning had put the forest into fire in June, 2002, and that 35,000 acres had been burnt. Now they were cutting down the dead trees and making 2x4 boards from most of them. Then we drove to Denver, continuing along the scenic C.R. 12, passing the Spanish Peaks. At our hotel we had a lot of work cleaning us, our equipment, the truck, and our clothes from dirt and soot.

 All pictures
#1: Looking north from a point 10 m south of the confluence. Spanish peaks in the background.
#2: View north
#3: View east
#4: View south
#5: View west
#6: GPS
ALL: All pictures on one page

E-mail from Dan:

I stumbled across your site while searching for a map of Vermejo Park Ranch (I can't find mine). I have hunted at VPR for the last several years and have some info that may help you, or not.

First, the people who work at VPR are some of the best you could ever hope to meet. Second, entering the property without permission would not only be illegal, it would be very, very dangerous as hunting of one form or another occurs on the property nearly year 'round. The guides know where people are supposed to be or not be and keep in touch with each other and ranch headquarters by radio. Rifle bullets carry a long way and if they don't know you're there - well you get the point. Third, El Paso Energy doesn't have legal authority to allow you on the property. El Paso employees can only enter the property for work relating to their gas wells and are not supposed to be there otherwise. (Ted turner did not/could not buy the gas rights to the property when he bought it or El Paso would not be there. The damage El Paso has done to the property is horrific. You should have seen it several years ago before they started tearing it up.) Lets see... fourth (fourthly?), Cerroso canyon is on VPR property. If I remember right, at some point the public road dead ends into a locked gate. Next, VPR extends North into Colorado a pretty good way. I think the western boundary of the ranch runs along the ridge line of the Sangre de Cristo mountains along Little Castillo Peak.

Last, to repeat myself, the people at VPR are good people. I'm sure if you ask in advance and explain your project they will try to help. Due to liability issues they may want someone to accompany/guide you. There are a lot of dead end roads on VPR, old logging and mine roads that have been closed, abandoned rail lines that have been removed, and hunting roads that just exist to get you into the middle of nowhere. I've hunted there for ten years and still don't understand how the guides find their way around. Good luck.