28-Jul-2006 -- A Certified Wilderness Experience….
After spending a week on the south rim of the Grand Canyon at the National Park Service’s Albright Training Center, I decided the most appropriate way to conclude my trip would be to visit the home county of the man for whom the Center is named, Horace Albright, the second director of the NPS. This detour would also provide a wonderful opportunity to attempt my first confluence in the State of California. 36N 116W had been visited four times in the past six years, but never during the summer months. At least I didn’t think washed out roads would be a problem this time around.
So it was I found myself on the road well before dawn, heading first west on I-40, then turning northwest to cross Hoover Dam and skirt Las Vegas. Heading west on Highway 160 I left the haze/smog of the city behind as I gained altitude, only to have the summer haze return (though not quite as bad) when I came back down on the west side of the mountains into the Pahrump Valley. Turning southwest on Old Spanish Trail I soon crossed the state line into California’s Inyo County.
About two miles from the cp I turned north on a bladed gravel road. On reaching the 36th parallel, the slightly sunken road allowed no place for a pull-off, so I continued on looking for a good parking spot. When the road opened out at a dry lake bed, I decided the distance back to the cp was now more than I wanted to tackle in the heat, and would involve more time than I could afford to spend if I was to catch my afternoon plane. So I turned around, returned to 36N, and tried to squeeze my little car as far to the right of the roadway as possible.
Although the cp was just a short distance from the road, signs indicated the land surrounding the confluence was a designated wilderness area from the road west, at least to the mountains. 36N 116W is unchanged since the last recorded visit in March of 2005. The "X" still scratched into the desert gravel looks like it could have been made the day before. I took my photos, spent a few minutes soaking in the peacefulness of the place, and then headed back to the construction and congestion that is modern Las Vegas. You could not ask for a starker contrast than between the development around McCarran International Airport, and the [lack of] development around 36N 116W. I made my plane and was thankful for the convenience, but couldn't help thinking too much of a good thing had ruined a perfectly good desert….