07-Jan-2012 -- Given our mutual interest in geography and geospatial technology, it was only a matter of time before my colleague David DiBiase and I converged on a latitude-longitude intersection. The opportunity presented itself immediately following the GeoDesign Summit at Esri in Redlands. Given our heavy workloads during the week, we were unable to discuss everything we wanted to regarding GIS in education. The opportunity for a walking meeting presented itself while I was on my way to the Palm Springs airport, and therefore, on a Saturday morning, we met around 9:30am along County Line Road. It was a glorious day, the kind of day that makes one understand why so many New Englanders and upper-Midwest residents have moved here.
As with the last time I had approached from the west, one of my primary goals was to maximize trail time and minimize off-trail time. The reason was twofold: 1. I needed to get to the airport and had exactly two hours to spare on this hike. 2. The chaparral vegetation is sharp and combined with the slippery, steep slopes, is hard on the body. Because I had been here several times, I knew which trails to take, my hike here last August cementing the correct turns in my mind. We enjoyed the hike, discussing All Things Geospatial, and made good time until the necessary off-trail scramble down the gully and up the other side. At this time, I discussed my nasty gash on my palm during my hike here last year with David in preparation for this moment of departure from the trail. That gash took weeks to completely heal, but it was a memorable time spent with another one of my favorite people, Diana Stuart Sinton.
The interesting thing about this confluence is that once a confluence hunter descends into the gully, most of the satellites disappear from view. This necessitates an arduous trek through thorns and slippery, steep slopes in an effort to reach The Blissful Centered Moment. Today, my GPS led us too far up the north-facing slope on the other side of the gully, and we gradually backtracked in a wide arc, descending into nearly the bottom of the gully before we pronounced it "close enough." For indeed we were well within 100 meters of the spot. Also interesting is the fact that I found a geocache here once but never before or since. This time, the confluence seemed to be very close to the bottom of the gully. It was the lowest that I had ever found this confluence. I am usually a bit further up the north-facing slope. We took another reading on the south-facing slope, but before doing so, took some photographs and a movie. The temperature was approximately 70 F under bright and beautiful sunny skies. It was then when I noticed that David's entire forearm was sporting numerous long scratches and blood. We knew right then that this "badge of confluence honor" had to be photographed and included. I was just hoping that despite this, David would like to go confluence hunting with me again someday.
On the way down, we encountered two men on horseback leading two additional horses up the trail, which is something I had not ever encountered in this area. After they had passed us, heading uphill, David and I discussed the fact that a new house seemed to sprout here each time I visited this area, and speculated whether the area was really protected open space or not. I hoped so as it was a beautiful set of ridges and gullies, the perfect example of the chaparral biome. We arrived back on County Line Road after a round trip time of about 2 hours, making it one of the most efficient trips I had ever taken here. We then parted ways, with me leaving for the Palm Springs airport. It was indeed a wonderful way to end my week in southern California and the first week of the New Year.