05-May-2004 -- Some weeks ago I received an email from Der Spiegel, the well-known German magazine. They wanted to write an article about the Confluence Project, and had discovered that most points in Europe has been visited, but that there were still a few unvisited confluences in Norway.
On hearing this I suggested we could try 62°N 11°E, and that we could make an attempt in the beginning of May, since this point is located at an altitude (900 m) where the snow would probably have melted by that time. Philip Bethge, the science journalist arrived in Oslo on Tuesday 4 May, and I called the Norwegian Meteorological office to verify the snow prediction: "Hmmm, at 62 degrees and 900 m altitude there should be just a few scattered patches of snow."
I also checked the names of the farms in the area, trying to locate persons by the same name in the phone directory. I found one, called him, and tried to explain that we wanted to visit the hillside above his farm. I don't know if I succeeded in explaining the pupose of the trip, but he was glad to verify the existence of a drivable road leading halfway up the hillside, and that there was no gate on this road.
With these two pieces of good news we started early in the morning from Oslo. I picked up Philip at his downtown hotel at 0700, then we drove the 300+ km almost due north to Rendalen.
When my GPS said we had 40 m left to the dirt road exit, we finally spotted a narrow opening between the spruce trees to our right. It seemed far too small for a logging road, but since it was in the right place, we tried it. After about a km of very steep switchbacks we suddenly arrived on a significantly better dirt road, it seems that the logging road starts a few km further up the valley, before meeting up with our trail!
We followed this road to the end, which was located less than a km away from the highway, but almost 300 m higher, leaving us at 580 m with about 2.5 km and 320 m ascent to the target.
The hike up the hillside was very nice, the ground is covered with moss, lichen and small blueberry plants. First we had to take off our jackets as it got really warm, but as we got nearer to the point and closer to the tree limit (which is at about 850 m altitude at this location), a cold wind forced us to cover up again.
As we passed the last trees, we also spotted a few isolated patches of snow, so the snow prediction was 'spot on'. :-)
When we got to the point, I gave the GPS to Philip so that he could have the honour of doing the zero dance, at this point I believe he did catch some of the exitement of the project: "How to be an explorer in really random places." On the GPS photo the precision is listed as just under 5 meters, but while we were standing there the EGNOS wide area differential corrections became active and the listed EPE value dropped all the way to 2.0 m!
I took my usual set of photos and was ready to return to the car when I realized that a magazine article takes quite a bit longer: I had to pose with the gps for a long time, while Philip tried to get exactly the right shot for his article. Afterwards we placed my camera on top of his backpack to get a photo of both of us, this worked out quite well, even though I didn't realize that I had placed my brand new camera in a timed burst mode, so that we got a lot of images, instead of just a couple. With a digital camera this fortunately doesn't cost anything!
Returning down to the car was quite a bit faster, and this was lucky, since the rain started just as we reached it! These heavy rains have caused localized flooding in several parts of southern Norway, with people being evacuated from their homes in the hardest hit areas.
On the way back we stopped at the railway station in Koppang where Philip continued his norwegian journey with a train trip to Trondheim and Trøndelag, while I drove back to Oslo, making an attempt on 61°N 12°E on the way.