17-Sep-2005 -- Cheryl and I were coming to western Montana for a week’s vacation with her son and family on her daughter-in-law’s remote (40 miles from the nearest grocery store) ranch. We flew into Missoula Friday evening and would drive the 200 miles to the ranch on Saturday. But first we had to visit the confluence at 47N 114W.
Saturday was a dreary rainy day and the freshly graded Snow Bowl Road was muddy and treacherous enough I was happy that the rental car company had upgraded us to an all wheel drive Subaru Outback. We reached the closest approach to the confluence where Snow Bowl Road had been recently widened and a yellow road grader was parked. We were still about 500 feet away at the edge of the road that had been chewed out of the mountainside. I made my way up the steep slippery mountainside in the rain toward the zero point. The customary GPS dance to get all zeros was made difficult by the steep terrain, dense forest, fallen trees, and wet ground cover. I was about to settle for just close when I looked down and saw all zeros on my GPSr. I got a couple pictures before it wandered slightly out again. My EPE was 61 feet. I took my four pictures (east; north; south; and west) and headed back to Cheryl and the car. As is often the case the return trip was much easier. I found an old narrow overgrown fire road that took me almost back to the road. Unfortunately it ended at a 12 foot drop where the road had been widened. Nonetheless, I was able to bushwhack my way around the dropoff to the car.
Interestingly, the previous visitors in 1999 (before Selective Availability was turned off) placed the confluence actually on Snow Bowl Road. I’m not sure what the expected error was at that time. I can’t believe the narrow abandoned fire road that was but 150 feet from the confluence could ever (6 years ago) have been Snow Bowl Road, especially considering the pictures taken by the previous visitors.