11-Dec-2005 -- Six weeks had passed since our last confluence hunt (N33 W110) and with a prolonged dry spell sitting over Arizona, my wife and I decided to spend a day seeking yet another confluence, this time with N34 W113 in our sights. This particular confluence is the northwestern one of the four confluences that 'box' the Phoenix metropolitan area, and for us, the farthest from our home in Chandler. The sky was cold and gray as we left our home this morning, but as we drove west and north toward Wickenburg, the clouds broke and the sun bathed the deserts in a low winter light, and bumped the temperature up a bit into the comfortable range.
After getting some supplies in Wickenburg we traveled west along US-60 and checked out a couple possible southern approaches to the confluence. However, most of our intended roads - those gleaned from the various maps - were behind locked gates. We explored Forepaugh Road, which seemed promising at first, but this also met with a dead end, coming into the Forepaugh Ranch headquarters, still about 3 miles from the confluence. So be it, we then drove north along state highway AZ-71 to a very unobvious gate, located on the south side of the road at a bit past milepost 95. Passing through, we proceeded south along the dirt track. Our maps, last field checked in 1967, show this road as a perfectly straight section-line road, but in reality it weaves in and out with other side roads and various sandy washes. Even so, we had little difficulty driving the four miles or so, progressing ever closer to the 34th parallel, which marks the Yavapai-Maricopa county line. The land, so far as we can tell, is public, but likely it is leased to the nearby ranches as we saw much cattle everywhere, and numerous cattle tracks and 'sign' on the ground. The road was in decent shape, save for a stretch of soft sand that could make it a difficult passage for a small passenger vehicle.
The road eventually comes to a fence at the 34th parallel; we took the left fork and traveled east about another mile to a large stock pond. The main track then went left (north), which we explored for a bit before returning to the stock pond. The map showed another track heading a bit more east from this stock pond, and we were able to find it after working our way through some sandy washes and thick brush. We drove about another half-mile, sometimes following the track and other times just going cross country. We stopped in a clearing at roughly N34.00110 W113.01300, about a mile west of the confluence.
We decided to scoot underneath the fence and walk a graded ranch road east toward the confluence, making good time along this unobstructed path. Eventually we came upon a corral and a gate, passing through and walking east toward a rise near another stock pond. I checked our GPS which showed us as being about 50 meters from the confluence. Now it was just a case of finding it in the thickening brush. Cow paths and natural openings brought us to a thick stand of mesquite and cactus; I was able to get both readings to show ".99998" but attempts to lean into the brush some more proved fruitless - and scratchy! We walked around the other side, and had a similar problem - now getting both readings to show ".00002". Finally, Beth went back around opposite me and got on all fours, entering into the thicket. I did the same from my end, and handed her the GPS. After some considerable back and forth, we were able to get all zeroes for a fleeting moment. Success! We immediately backed out of the mess and walked back toward the road, taking a break for snacks before returning to our truck.
For the cardinal photographs, we chose to walk about 20 feet to the north into a clearing for the shots. Photo 1 (the prettiest of the four, in our opinion), shows distant mountain ranges well to the north. Photo 2 is looking south directly into the brush, with the confluence being somewhere therein slightly to the left in this photo. Photos 3 and 4 are the east and west views. Photo 5 is our GPS. We were both holding it, and once all zeroes showed I took a photo, somewhat blindly, and capturing a bit too much reflection. Even so, the reading is evident (In the inset is a photo I took of another 'close' reading, the best of the remaining shots). Photo 6 shows Beth at the confluence, reaching in to get the GPS to behave. Photo 7 is me along the road near the point. In photo 8, taken from near our truck, Forepaugh Peak is the nearer mountain, while Harquahala Mountain - the highest peak in southwest Arizona at 5,681 feet - rises on the distant horizon to the left. Lastly, photo 9 shows some of the friendly and curious cattle that dotted the immediate region.
Despite this confluence being within our home county of Maricopa (actually along its northern boundary), our round trip driving distance, including dead ends and some alternative back road routes back into Phoenix, was nearly 300 miles - a figure that surprised us after this long and enjoyable day. There will be more!