06-Jan-2001 -- The barrage of emails from the geekier amungst us began a couple of
days before the weekend. N37 W81 was identified as the closest unattempted
confluence to Blacksburg, VA and designated as our target. This confluence is
located on the Jefferson National Forest so we guessed access would be
relatively straight-forward. There were a couple of roads that would potentially
reduce our hike to as little as 3/4 mile, however, all approaches required we cross
private land to reach the national forest boundary.
Saturday morning began with one out of three of the 4WD vehicles fully
operational. Once they'd been tinkered with we set off for the Wallyworld for
supplies and prizes for the geocache. It took about 40 minutes to drive down
Interstate 81 toward our objective, but the lead vehicle failed to make the
agreed upon exit. Undaunted, the remaining two vehicles took the initiative
and started investigating the roads. We first drove up a southern approach,
after one stream fording, we came to two homes (one with large dogs), and
decided to go ahead and investigate the northern road.
The northern road was a bit more primative and required several frozen
stream fordings. We finally reached a terminating gate and a home. The resident
was helpful, but did not own the property beyond the gate. He gave us the
name of a landowner who controlled access via a western route. This
apparently was the "easiest" and the right-of-way the US Forest Service
utilized. We located this second residence but the landowner was not home.
We didn't want to cross anyone's land without permission so we proceeded
back to the southern approach and met back up with our third vehicle.
The southern road led us up to a small horse farm... and human activity.
The landowners were home and were very gracious. They allowed us access
to their fields which led all the way up to the forest boundary. Up we drove,
and into the woods we went.
The hiking was pretty rugged because the GPS units in the lead took the
most direct route indicated (the silly ones in the rear were using compass and
maps). However we all attained the crest of a spur ridge about the same time.
The hiking was much easier from there and we were homing in on 37N. Then
we headed east and downslope over a lot of ice downed trees, and then
through a thick white pines grove to find the point.
It actually wound up virtually at the head, and almost directly in the middle
of the drainage we had been. There was a brief argument over whose
GPS unit was right (... a little unit-envy one would guess).
We spent about 20 minutes taking pictures and establishing a geocache
for the geocaching game at http://www.geocaching.com (the "Elvis
Confluence"). We left a number of excellent prizes for any future visitors to
The group split up for the hike out. Five insisting to follow a more
"interesting" linear way back to the cars, and two who decided to
go back the way we came (they being the two who don't leave it all to technology,
looked at the map, and noted that the linear route was going to suck).
Of course the five did eventually make it out.