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the Degree Confluence Project
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United States : Oregon

3.2 miles (5.1 km) ENE of Dale (Grant), Umatilla, OR, USA
Approx. altitude: 1077 m (3533 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap topo aerial world confnav)
Antipode: 45°S 61°E

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: View from the top of the hill #3: North Fork of the John Day River #4: Sunlight, clouds, and the sloping hill #5: The River Valley

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  45°N 119°W  

#1: The Clouds Move In

(visited by Steven E. Newton)

01-Oct-2000 -- The Surroundings

This confluence is located in the area of the Umatilla National Forest, near the North Fork John Day River Wilderness not far from US 395, in the Western foothills of the Blue Mountains. The area was once a gold and silver mining area in the mid 1800s, and was established as a wilderness area in 1984 by the Oregon Wilderness Act of 1984. The confluence itself is located on a steep hillside less than half a kilometer from a forest road.

The Journey

I left Portland on a Saturday for eastern Oregon amidst rainy conditions that I hoped I would leave behind as I went east. But I was in and out of moderate to heavy rain as far east as Pendleton, where I turned south and began climbing into the mountains. Along US Highway 395 heading south I found long stretches of grazing lands and rolling hills, some steep enough to have snow fences, and then the forested mountains at the three to four thousand foot level. A short detour down a gravel road along the river showed me that the confluence was definitely going to be in the high country, and another stop at USFS road 3963 about 1km from the confluence showed without a doubt the confluence was on a steep hillside well above the river and road.

A Night Alone

It was late afternoon now, and I was not going to be able to easily climb up to the confluence and back down before the cloudy skies became too dark for comfort -- I really dislike hiking in the gloom. Fortunately I found a map of the Forest Service roads that showed a clear and easy, if roundabout, drive up into the area to a road above the confluence. So I would drive in, check out the area, camp overnight and attempt the confluence the next morning. Parked out on the hilltop at 4000 feet that night in the complete darkness I experienced alternating heavy showers and spectacular star-filled clear skies.

The Confluence

The next morning I drove the dirt road towards the confluence and began my hike with clouds so low I was looking horizontally at them. But then, I was at just over 1200 meters. The rest was all downhill, 300 meters east and 200 meters down. In the sunlight and broken low clouds the views of the river valley and the surrounding forest were spectacular. I reached the confluence, perched on a sunlit grassy open area, after a meandering hike around rock outcroppings and dense brush. I loitered, knowing that the hike back up would be a killer, so I took lots of pictures, drank a lot of water and rested.

Home

Of course, as I started back up the intermittent showers returned, hiking on an exposed hillside. I zigzagged carefully up the and occasionally took shelter and rested in small copses. I was soaked from rain and sweat when I crested the hill and saw my truck, tremendously relieved. Once I got in, stripped off my wet, muddy top layer and turned on the heat I was in heaven, having reached my goal and ready to head back into town for lunch.


 All pictures
#1: The Clouds Move In
#2: View from the top of the hill
#3: North Fork of the John Day River
#4: Sunlight, clouds, and the sloping hill
#5: The River Valley
#6: The GPS at the Confluence
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)