11-May-2016 -- As we had been in the spectacular landscapes of Goblin Valley State Park and the slot canyons of Little Wild Horse and Bell, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone to the past few days of hiking and exploration. During a midmorning in Spring, we exited I-70 at the west entrance to the town of Green River, and after a mile, turned east along the old US 6 & 50, a two lane road that was the main road to Colorado before Interstate Highway 70 was built.
As I-70 had been there since the 1960s (though the segment west of Green River wouldn't be finished until the 1970s), it had been a long time since US 6 & 50 had been maintained. Weeds grew through the asphalt and small lakes dotted the road. It would have been a great place to film a movie. I was wondering how we were going to fare along it. As I had suspected, several stretches were OK, while others were definitely rough and had me wondering if our hike was going to be a LOT longer than we had anticipated. But, we gingerly made our way along, past a few dilapidated and abandoned structures, and past an oil refinery, encountering no people or vehicles. After 30 minutes, we reached the road cutting to the northeast identified by my friend Shawn Fleming. This road, though gravel, was in better shape than the old US highway, and we wound through some interesting landforms of scrub-covered hills and valleys. It would have been better if we had been in a four wheel drive vehicle instead of a van, and fortunately, the weather was dry. In time, we emerged on a high ridge to the southeast of the confluence, where we stopped and turned the vehicle around. Gathering supplies and donning sunblock, we set out to the northwest.
We struck out in a line straight toward the confluence, to the west-northwest, and given the terrain, were able to hike largely on that line. First, we descended into a broad valley and were able to follow a rough track before setting out on our own. About half of our hike was along bare earth and rock, and the other half among cacti and grasses, where we kept watch for snakes. The first exception to our straight line route was due to the ravines, which, as we neared the point, became deeper, approaching 15 feet (4.5 meters) in places, requiring some detours to find the best access points. The other exception was as we neared the point, we ended up, as is typically the case, of making an arc and circling ever-more-tightly on the spot, rather than walking directly up to it. After about three minutes, at the point, owing to the wide open skies, we were able to zero out the GPS receiver. We then enjoyed some centered moments.
The view was longest to the south, and we were just south of some wonderful buttes, cuestas, and mesas that formed the Bookcliffs, which extend in a wide arc from here all the way to the east into Colorado. I knew that for vast expanses of territory to the north of us, the population density was very low and no towns existed. The terrain was rough, too. So, this point, had it been slightly to the north, could have been very difficult to reach indeed. From the confluence, we could not see our vehicle. I have stood on 39 north a number of times; in fact, it is my most visited line of latitude. I now have an unbroken string of points from here at 110 West into western Missouri at 94 West - a full 16 degrees of latitude. This extends all the way across Colorado and all the way across Kansas. For some reason, in my 15 years of confluence trekking, I had always missed 110 West, so this is my first time to stand on 110 West. It was a great moment. The temperature stood at about 87 F (30 C), certainly bordering on "hot" but not as hot as it would be here in a few weeks. A hot breeze was blowing and the sky was clear. After about 10 minutes, we hiked back largely the way we came, with some different ways to tackle the ravines. We kept an eye on our vehicle, once we spotted it, and put away the GPS. We saw no people or animals, though we saw some VERY large cattle on the way out, near the US highway. The total hike distance came in at 5.2 miles (8.4 km); the straight line distance was 2.38 miles each way; and our hike came in at just exactly 2 hours to the point including our time at the point. We were glad to have been here but I was thankful to rest now for a bit. Get out there and explore the Earth!