15-Nov-2012 -- After such a long string of successful confluence visits, with unbelievably good fortune, many friendly landowners, and fair to good weather, it was inevitable that such a streak of successes would have to come to an end. I hesitate to describe this trek as I believe that my confluence map will forever show an attempt on this spot, rather than a success. Without a miracle occurring, I do not anticipate ever successfully achieving this point. Still, hope always remains, and so I respectfully submit this narrative. And I think it is only fair to mark our attempts as well as our successes.
As I was on the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee campus for GIS Day on the previous day, an annual event held worldwide to celebrate the efficiency and better decisions that are made as a result of geospatial technologies, it seemed only fitting to cap the visit with a confluence visit. There had only been one successful visit to this point, over a decade ago. Earlier in the morning, I was able to make a small side trip to visit a few dear people I know in Manitowoc. On the way back to Milwaukee, I drove southeast on US Highway 151 out of Manitowoc to make an attempt on 44 North 88 West. This point is marked by such a pair of nice even numbers and I knew it would be in a beautiful setting. I even had a few hours before my airplane departed, and had high hopes. I had even prepared for the likely very muddy and wet assault by packing some old shoes and clothing. And so, nearing the point, I left US 151 on State Highway 67, driving east on County Road C a short distance while eyeing the landscape to the south. Any such belief I had that the lateness and dryness of the season would have on the wet nature of this area were banished. I could see numerous bogs and mud already. I drove back a ways and parked to don my wetlands clothes, camera, batteries, and GPS. At this point, I knew I would get muddy but had high hopes.
My first steps off the road were to leap across some standing water so I could land in the very muddy field to the south. The field had recently been deep plowed, and my shoes gained numerous inches of mud quite quickly. Before long, I was taking giant paces and my shoe size was growing with each new step. At the end of this field, I skirted the next field on its north side, to the west, aiming for the road I could see that was heading southeast toward the confluence. I was nearing the 1 kilometer from confluence mark. Not two minutes later, I saw a truck heading in my direction down this road. I waved and the truck stopped, and quite awhile later, owing to huffing and puffing and scrambling through trees, I arrived at the truck to greet the landowner. I explained my mission and the man said that he was one of several owners of land near the confluence. Owing to a recent theft in the area, everyone was too wary about allowing any non-resident in. He explained that if I ventured there, the other landowners would call the police. That was the last thing I wanted to hear, and it was quite clear that this was the end of story. I thanked him and reluctantly walked down the lane and back to the main road, my feet making mud prints all the way back to the vehicle. I thought for a moment and decided to ask permission from the house to the south of the confluence.
Therefore, I drove south on 67 to Steinthal Road, and then east to where the road dips into a hollow. I could see a gate with no trespassing signs on it and another lane leading west to a beautiful log home to the east. Hiking up the lane to the log home, I knocked and spoke with a kind lady who said that the land to the north was not hers but rather her very private neighbor. I thanked her and turned to the private neighbor's land as my last attempt. I was not sure that this landowner actually owned the part of the wetland where the confluence lay, but it was the best road toward the confluence and the approach that would entail the least amount of bushwacking. I began walking north up the lane, through the dense forest. After passing several "warning--criminal trespass" signs on both sides of the lane, I began to wonder: "What if the landowner considered my request for access already a "done deal"; that is, that I had already trespassed?" Something in the frequent and serious nature of the signs, and of the neighbor's wariness, gave me pause. The pause turned to a stop. I took one more picture of my GPS, even though I had been closer from the north approach. I decided to walk back to the gate and try to call the landowner after searching for the landowner's name and address online on my phone. When I returned to the main road, and discovered that I had no cell phone service there, that decided it. I would consider this, probably forever, an attempt. If I had time, if I ever returned to this area, I would investigate and write to all of the landowners here, but would I ever have time to do so? And would I meet with success?
As I drove away from the area, to the south, I was disappointed, but it still was a beautiful day, and I was in a beautiful state. I had enjoyed a beautiful brisk walk out to the Manitowoc Pier on Lake Michigan and around a neighborhood and through a cemetery in Two Rivers. So, all in all, I am still glad I visited and I wish success to all future trekkers to 44 North 88 West.