10-Aug-2001 -- It all began as a simple question, "are you up for a little adventure?" Jim Smith found out about the Degree Confluence Project from his brother. He shared the project with me (Ron Withers, his brother-in-law). We had planned a couple of days' vacation in McCall, Idaho and he had an idea for something to perhaps fill up a morning or an afternoon.
We would be staying with Ron Dean (my father-in-law) who is a long time resident of McCall and knows as much, or more, about the Payette National Forest as anyone. We shared the project with him and he provided the guidance, energy, and enthusiasm to make our quest a success. We borrowed a GPS unit from McCall neighbor and friend David Lewis. The website information indicated that the confluence of 45N 116W was only 7.8 miles from McCall, Idaho. How hard could it be?
We located the confluence at the corners of the Box Lake, McCall, Granite, and Enos, Forest Service topographical maps. On Friday, August 10, 2001, we drove 21 miles northeast of McCall, Idaho and parked at the Black Lee Creek trailhead. It was a beautiful summer day. Temperatures were around the 80s and we had a slight breeze from the west. All the maps and signs indicated that it would be a 7 mile hike each way by trail. With the aid of a seasoned guide and a GPS we intended to make it substantially shorter than that (about 5 miles less each way). About 1 1/2 miles from Box Lake we took the left fork of Black Lee Creek and crossed the west ridge. We began hiking at about 9:00 am. From the car (5,800-ft.) to the ridge (7,896-ft.) we climbed around 2000 feet. Then we dropped about 600 feet into another basin. We found the confluence on the southwest face of a granite boulder outcropping overlooking the large meadow (at its northwest corner), north of Squaw Lake. We arrived at about 12:10 p.m. The GPS read 45°00.000’N 116°00.000’W and indicated we were at about 7,342 feet elevation. The confluence is approximately 100 feet east of the ridge trail from Box Lake to Blackwell Lake. Several pictures were taken in the four compass directions. We also took one from the ridge to the east of the confluence overlooking Payette Lake, since it was such a beautiful view. The pictures indicate a rocky terrain with scarred remains of the 1994 Blackwell forest fire. We returned home at about 3:30 p.m. physically exhausted yet satisfied with our accomplishment.