24-Feb-2011 -- As I was in the area for the Crossing Boundaries project, an NSF-funded effort to promote the use of GIS and GPS and other technologies in environmental sciences, I thought that a confluence visit would be an appropriate way to begin the series of meetings. Therefore, 30 minutes after landing at the Syracuse airport, my colleague and I drove south on I-81 and east on I-690 through Syracuse. The weather was awfully gloomy and I hope we would arrive at the confluence before it became too dark. It was already past mid-afternoon. Would we make it in time?
We drove south on I-481 and exited at State Highway 92. After awhile, I had a feeling that we were past the turnoff to Highbridge Street. Sure enough, I checked the maps on my phone and we were indeed too far southeast. We doubled back and I wondered how I could have missed it while driving. Highway 92 goes over Highbridge Street; there is no direct turn onto it. The name of the street should have been a good clue. We wound our way down the gully which ended at a T-intersection, Highbridge Street, which we then took underneath Highway 92 toward the south. We had lost 10 minutes of valuable time. Now we made the correct turn onto Troop K road and I even made the turn into the correct driveway where I knew the jumping-off point was to the confluence. Things were looking up.
My colleague probably wisely chose to stay in the car where he could make calls and get some work done. This area is one of the snowiest in the world, due to the lake effect from the Great Lakes to the north and west, and this winter had been particularly snowy. Fortunately, I was prepared; I had my winter coat, hat, and gloves--no boots but I knew the hike would be short. My colleague took a few photos of me high stepping through the first snowbank. The first snowbank was almost as tall as I was. After that, it was still slow going, with the average depth of nearly a meter. It looked like there had been somewhat of a thaw, with fresh snow on top of the crusty layer, which I occasionally broke through. I angled to the south and found a sort of clearing into the forest where I suspected a trail lay beneath. I had a difficult time getting a good GPS reading even though the leaves were off the trees, but headed west. Ahead of me lay a fairly steep hill but after less than 15 minutes, I was wandering in the snow around the horizontal log where I knew the confluence must be.
I spent about 10 minutes doing the confluence dance in the snow, and just when I had almost given up hope of zeroing out the unit, standing over, beside, and around the horizontal log, I achieved Confluence Centeredness.
The confluence lies on ground sloping slightly to the east, on the horizontal log that is is nearly one meter in diameter. It was about 25 F under gloomy skies, definitely not as cold as it could have been, nor as windy. This is a beautiful spot, with a country feel, but not far from the city. I spent only 10 minutes at the site since my colleague was waiting for me. It was interesting to speculate whether this land would ever be developed. I hoped not.
I had been to 43 North numerous times, from Massachusetts on the east to Idaho on the west. I had also stood on 76 West several times in Pennsylvania and Maryland. I now had a nice collection of 4 New York confluence points. I saw no animals or birds during this visit, and no people. Some highway noise from Troop K Road was still audible here, but all in all, it was a peaceful place. I would like to return in summer and compare the differences. Autumn would be quite lovely as well. I called my colleague on my cell phone announcing that I was on my way back, and I arrived back at the vehicle in what I thought was a fairly short period, with some daylight to spare.
Our next stop was to visit our colleague at The Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology (IAGT) at Cayuga Community College. This is an impressive facility where GIS technologies are applied in a number of different disciplines and projects. We saw some lovely glaciated terrain and enjoyed the lights coming on in the houses as we passed through the villages on 2-lane roads. The next day another major blizzard occurred, so we were thankful that we had traveled on the day before. Many of our colleagues could not make it, and had to return in layover airports after traveling hundreds of miles attempting to reach New York. We nevertheless had a productive series of meetings in Geneva, New York. The confluence visit and the IAGT visit were indeed an excellent beginning to our series of meetings.