31-Oct-2017 -- As I was in the area on a multi-day business trip, one wherein I would be speaking and presenting about geotechnologies, including GPS, GIS, and remote sensing, a confluence trek seemed like the perfect way to begin. And so, as I have so often done, my first stop after flying into the Lexington airport was a confluence point. I drove north and east around the city of Lexington and proceeded east on Interstate Highway 64 around Winchester, and then east on State Highway 1960 to Ecton Road, still continuing east. This was magnificent country--river hollows and uplands, crops and horses and cattle, with much in the way of fall color still in the trees. The weather was beautiul autumn Kentucky weather--warm and sunny.
Given the landowner notes from the visit 16 years ago, I was very conscious of not trespassing; and thus my choices were to (1) Walk to the nearest house on the south and asking permission for access, or (2) Hiking in from the north, avoiding the landowner's property on the south, and getting a better fix on the location than the previous visit. I had a feeling that the 2001 location found might not be accurate, given the fact that the year 2001 was shortly after when the GPS selective availability was turned off. I decided to approach this point from the north, which would make for a longer but I hoped would avoid the landowner's property to the south.
I parked about 2 miles north of the confluence where a ranch road led to the south, and set off walking along it once I had gathered supplies. I knew I'd get dirty but was wearing my work clothes. The first interesting thing I saw was a tree growing out of an abandoned silo. This and other things made me take over 100 photos and videos on this trek. I continued past some cattle along the trail that led south and then southeast along the uplands. The thing I worry most about in these treks is encountering a dog not on a chain, but fortunately none were here; the sounds of one where I had parked receded in the distance. After some 35 minutes, the time had come for me to leave the trail and strike out across a field, and then down a steep slope through thorns to the creek below. I had been concerned that it might have been too wide to cross easily, but I found some stepping stones and discovered that it was no problem. The woods on the south side of the creek were very thorny. I pondered how similar this point was to the one just one degree west of here that I visited last year in June--very similar hilly terrain and all beautiful. I crossed two fields and found the point just south of a stand of trees, in a field that might have been harvested for hay. As I suspected, I was not in the same location as the 2001 point photographs depicted.
The temperature was a pleasant 67 F, under sunny skies, on Halloween afternoon. I saw no people, animals, or birds. It was modestly breezy. In the past, I had stood on 38 North several times, from California on the west to Virginia on the east, and also on 84 West, from Michigan on the north to Georgia on the south. The best view from this spot was to the west, but the entire spot was a bit lower than the surrounding terrain, so the views are actually better a few hundred meters to the west and east of the actual confluence point. Still, it was wonderful to be here and after 15 minutes, I set back off, largely the way I had come in, again, to avoid walking any further south. I came prepared, however, if I met anyone, to ask permission and explain my mission.
Once I had crossed the stream and climbed the slope, I deviated from my own track from an hour before so I could visit the barn a short distance to the west, where I did some filming. It was so peaceful and fine there that I did not want to leave, but I struck again to the north along the track. There were even more cattle now, and several decent sized herds of 25 were in the way. I gently walked through them, speaking to them, but could not help but step in the remains of where they had been standing; the evidence was everywhere, and impossible to avoid. I would need to wash these shoes later. But it was totally worth it. In the future, as you are wandering around on the landscape, if you see someone walking around in a field wearing a shirt and tie, it might be me. I have had hundreds of these adventures. All in all, I knew I would remember this as one of the most beautiful and peaceful confluence treks I had ever undertaken.
I arrived back at the vehicle tallying about 1:50 of total hike time. It seemed a little longer than that because I had seen so much in a short amount of time - barns, livestock, stream, fields, prairie, uplands, bottomlands, and woodlands. I drove west to Lexington and then made a story map of the University of Kentucky campus as I walked around on it to get my bearings for the next day's workshops. This was one of the most magnificent hikes in all of my confluence treks, and it was a great way to begin this business trip promoting geotechnologies. Get out there onto the landscape!