01-Apr-2004 -- The Easter break gave us an opportunity to do a last long trek of the camping season before the desert summer set in. The trek was a combined affair for the first three days and then the party split up into two different trips. The initial stage took us 1000 km from Riyāḍ through north Burayda, into the volcanic fields southeast of Ḥā'il, to Ḥā'il itself, and into the granite mountains northwest of Ḥā'il. The second stage that I was a party to, took us 1700 km north-east of Ḥā'il, north into the frontier region, south-east along the Dahnā' sand dunes, and then home to Riyāḍ. During this trip, our party managed to bag seven new confluence points – 27N 44E, 27N 41E, 28N 42E, 28N 43E, 29N 43E, 29N 44E, 28N 44E.
This confluence point was targeted because visiting it would provide a conveniently timed lunch stop and break a monotonous 500 km drive on tar roads. We left Riyāḍ at 8am and headed along the highway for 250 km before heading north through the eastern fringes of the Qaṣīm agricultural area. I use the term "agricultural area" rather loosely, as it consisted of large tracts of desert with the occasional circle of land being pivot irrigated from boreholes. The area must be fairly wealthy though, because we passed through a small town that had the greenest and best manicured main-street that I have ever seen in Saudi Arabia. It also boasted a peculiar monument on a hill that looked like a cross between a chimney and a watchtower.
After 100 km of tar road we encountered a small village surrounded by a cluster of pivot fields. We needed to head westwards to locate the confluence point, but we were perpetually thwarted by pivot fields and bulldozed earth walls (which are very effective at keeping vehicles out). We had plotted a likely route along a shallow valley and in due course found a track that took us to within a few hundred metres of the Confluence.
The area consisted of low stony hills that were dissected by small valleys. Not wanting to punish our tyres, we walked the final distance to the confluence point, where we took the mandatory photographs before heading cross-country to seek out 27N 41E.