06-Sep-2015 -- I was in some serious confluence withdrawal with my last visited point some four months before, and was looking forward to what has become my annual day or two out in the field solely to visit confluence points. This year, the only time available was Labor Day weekend, a holiday in the USA, and even though the traffic would be heavier, the day had dawned to embark. On the day before, I had visited 4 points along 106 West, and I started today with a visit to 35 North 106 West. After leaving this point, I drove to Moriarty and then south toward 34 North 106 West.
Due to a long bicycle race along this route, I traveled slower than normal, but it was great to see the cyclists. I had never before traveled on State Highway 41 and it was a beautiful clear day. At US 60, I turned west and discovered that Mountainair was a community that afforded many photo opportunities. I only allowed myself a few, because I had high confluence goals for this day, and drove out of town on a wonderful road, State Highway 55. I lost cell signal soon afterward, and the road made a variety of stairstepping turns, south, then east, then south, then east again. Much time passed, but I only passed one or two vehicles. This is as remote a road as it gets nowadays and I loved it. After a long while, I dropped out of the pinon and juniper uplands into the drier lowlands of cholla and more spare junipers. Given the length of this road, I re-thought my confluence goals for the day, but at least wanted to visit two more. As it turned out, I would visit three more by the end of the day. I wanted to stop for some photos as Claunch, a half abandoned town, but it was already near noon, and so I continued on. No cell service was available out here to verify, but I had pre-printed a satellite image to take with me, so at one of the cattle guards heading west, I paused and studied my document. I decided that this was the right road. Well, I was 80% certain, and drove west on a one lane gravel but recently graded road. After I came to the ranch house, I was positive I was on the right road. A trailer was parked in the middle of the road, but fortunately I could drive around it, and headed south. The ranch house was about a remote a place as anyone could have desired--nobody around for at least 10 miles in any direction, perhaps 20. The road was very dusty and an enormous cloud of white was kicked up by my vehicle even though I drove slowly. Just after 34 North, I stopped, as the road continued uphill through a cattle guard.
Wasting no time gathering supplies, and after donning some sunblock, I strode out at as brisk a pace as I dared, watching the ground for snakes and other critters, walking due east just north of the barbed wire fence. I had learned on these treks that cattle often follow these, and make for a makeshift trail, and that was the case here. The trail continued slightly uphill, and after about 15 minutes, I headed north, once I reached 106 West, to the point. It was easy to zero out the receiver, owing to the big skies and sparse vegetation. It was warm out - about 85 degrees F, but not as hot as it could have been. Fortunately, it was only slightly windy. The confluence lies on land sloping gradully uphill to the south and downhill to the north. It was around noon in late summer--early September--a magnificent time to be outside in New Mexico. All of my cardinal directions photos look similar, with a pinon-juniper ridge in the distance, but the broadest view was to the east. I liked it so well there that I probably stayed a good 30 minutes taking cactus and other photos, one of which I share here. Some wildflowers were still growing. I had visited 34 North numerous times in the past, from California on the west to Maryland on the east. My treks to 106 West had been fewer--from a foiled attempt in Wyoming on the north to just one degree north of here in New Mexico. I had only stood on this meridian a half a dozen times. It was wonderful to be at this point, which is one the most beautiful points I have ever visited in my 300+ point journeys spanning nearly 15 years. It was remote and excellent. Given my goals of the day, which was to visit at least two more points, I reluctantly departed. I saw no people, no animals, and few birds.
I hiked back the way I had come in, even though a geographer like me relishes any chance to do a loop, so one can see new sights the whole way. I am always happy when I see the vehicle again just where I had left it. Once back there, I had a drink of water and took a few more photographs. I thought about driving south and then east back to the state highway, but I had such good luck along my trip in here, that I decided to just travel out the same way.
I reached State Highway 55 and turned south, determined to reach 33 North 106 West in a few hours. It was a great day and I had some great moments at this site. Get out there and explore the world!