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the Degree Confluence Project
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United States : California

22.0 miles (35.5 km) W of Westmorland, Imperial, CA, USA
Approx. altitude: 301 m (987 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap topo aerial world confnav)
Antipode: 33°S 64°E

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: 33ºN 116ºW Confluence:  Rock Above Greg's Knee (OK, you go up there and do better) #3: View north from Confluence, showing the narrow band of the Salton Sea #4: View east from the confluence #5: View south from the confluence

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  33°N 116°W (visit #1)  

#1: View west from Confluence, showing the San Jacinto Mountains

(visited by Rhett James Barnes and Greg Michalski)

29-Jan-2000 -- The 33ºN 116ºW confluence seemed like it should be easy to reach, lying at the edge of a flat ancient sea bed. The confluence also lies near the Southeast border of the Ocotillo Wells Off-Highway Vehicle Area, opening it up to easy access from two- and four-wheel vehicles of all types. Yet this point was conspicuously absent from completed confluence lists of California. The problem? The last 1/3 mile of the route to the confluence involves a nearly 1000 foot climb up the steep, unstable fresh geology of Fish Creek Mountains.

Leaving the road at the narrow-gauge mining railroad at the edge of the OHV area, we walked south out along sandy flat terrain, occasionally sprinkled with sea shells, until we reached the ancient sea shore. At this point the route becomes littered with rocks and boulders, many covered with remnants of moss and coral. Upon reaching the edge of the mountains, the terrain became a very steep collection of loose rocks that is not very fun to climb.

On the first, failed attempt to climb these mountains, Dan Bluestein suggested using a small trail carved into a ridge to the east of the confluence to reach the summit of the range, then heading back down a less steep approach to the confluence itself. Dan’s plan was a good one, though he could not come along for our final "assault." After climbing the trail to approximately 1000 feet, the terrain became flat enough for us to head out cross-country towards the confluence to the west.

The confluence itself sits on the edge of a short, steep, north-facing ridge. Poor satellite coverage and multipath interference from the ridge limited my DGPS accuracy to +-20 feet, mostly in the north-south direction. The confluence is along the second drop off on the ridge at the right of picture 6 (where the sky is very yellow). It is most likely actually a few feet below the rock shown in picture 1, which is at the bottom of the short vertical drop-off between the first and second steps in picture 6.

The view from the confluence is spectacular. The Imperial and lower Coachella Valleys stretch out to the northeast and southeast. These low, flat ancient sea beds are generally below sea-level, and stand in sharp contrast to the dark San Jacinto mountain range to the north-northwest, which rises to nearly 11,000 feet. Along the lower parts of the Imperial Valley lies the Salton Sea. This sea, formed accidentally in 1905 while trying to irrigate the lower Imperial Valley, serves as a ghostly reminder of the ancient sea that once filled the valley.


 All pictures
#1: View west from Confluence, showing the San Jacinto Mountains
#2: 33ºN 116ºW Confluence: Rock Above Greg's Knee (OK, you go up there and do better)
#3: View north from Confluence, showing the narrow band of the Salton Sea
#4: View east from the confluence
#5: View south from the confluence
#6: View of ridge from the east
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)