10-May-2014 -- Having just been thwarted in my attempt to visit 43 North 106 West, I set my sights upon the point one degree to the west. I was in the area for the Wyoming Social Studies conference, and as the workshops I taught today focused on mapping, GPS, and GIS, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect way to round out the daylight hours. I was still smarting from the unexpected sturdy fence blocking off the west approach to 43 North 106 West as I drove through the west side of Casper. Once out onto the wide open and beautiful spaces, my spirits lifted. Even if they are attempted points rather than successfully found, these confluence treks are great excuses to get out onto the landscape.
I drove west along US Highway 26, a magnificent road that soon left the urban area of Casper far behind. Occasionally, ranch houses appeared, or an abandoned gas station or abandoned store, but it was largely me, the road, a few other vehicles, and the descending sun, straight ahead. I was confident that I could reach the point before dusk and perhaps get in a bit of hiking at the same time. The trickiest part would be to choose the correct road from US 20 and 26 so that I would not lose time. At a half abandoned stopping point, home of the Tumble Inn (video I filmed is here) whose glory days were in the past, I turned south along the side of a cattle pen. I turned southwest instead of taking the road straight ahead; the road straight ahead was in marginal condition. The road to the southwest was definitely passable in a rental car, named Powder River Road, and I wound up some very nice hills to the second reservoir on the left. Here, I drove down a ravine and then climbed the hills to the east. I was a bit hesitant to keep driving in the rental car on this road, telling myself that I could stop at any time if it became worse. Most likely, I would not have been able to drive it after a rainstorm or in the winter snow. Today, I was able to drive to within a few hundred meters of the point. I stopped, gathered supplies, and ambled over the sage and grasses, taking care not to step on any cactus or snakes. I found the confluence less than 10 minutes later.
The confluence lies in one of the magnificent valleys in the area, about 500 meters east-west wide, and several kilometers north-south long. The views were therefore obstructed to the west and east but rather magnificent to the north and south. I had stood on 43 North several times in the past, from Idaho on the west to New Hampshire on the east, but only had stood on 107 West a few times before, here in Wyoming, and in Colorado to the south. I have attached a video to this documentation but a higher resolution video is here on YouTube. The temperature stood at a pleasant 65 F (18 C). I saw no animals and very few birds. This was the quintessential Wyoming landscape, with sage and outcrops, with a land use marked by cattle and oil and gas wells. This confluence was one of the most beautiful that I have ever visited. The outcrops, the shadows and sunlight on the fragrant sage and grasses, the wide open spaces, and the fair weather were all perfect. The clouds, coming before the following day's "Mother's Day" snowstorm, made for an interesting sky, as well. It was great to be all alone in the beautiful open spaces of Wyoming.
In part because the walk to the confluence was so easy, after spending time at the confluence, I took a very nice hike lasting just under an hour, to two limestone outcrops to the west, then circling to a pond to the south, and then to an outcrop southeast of the confluence, filming some movies with magnificent views along the way. A high ridge lay to the south, and the land sloped northward to the US highway to the north upon which I had passed. After my hike, I returned to the vehicle, left the area, drove back to Casper, and then north on I-25 to Buffalo. This visit was indeed a wonderful way to end the day filled with geotechnologies and working with some incredible educators.