04-Jan-2015 -- It was very early on a Sunday morning and we had just dropped our daughters off at the Tucson Airport for their trip back to the USAF Academy in Colorado. We headed west along Highway 86 and observed the first rays of sunlight striking the top of the distinctive Baboquivari Peak just to the south of us. Daylight raced down the mountain until the sun finally rose over the visible horizon behind us.
This would be the first visit to 32N 113W since 1999 and the first visit after this area of the Organ Pipe National Monument reopened after being closed since 2003 due to the continued presence of armed foreign nationals. “The Kris Eggle Visitor center was named after the ranger who was shot and killed in the line of duty on August 9, 2002 while pursuing members of a drug cartel who fled into the United States after committing a string of murders in Mexico.”
We stopped at the visitor center and then headed counterclockwise along Puerto Blanco Road. I had used GoogleEarth to create a fly over movie of the drive and the scenery was even more impressive from the ground. We stopped due east of the point less than a mile away and set out to hike over relatively flat terrain, up and over a small ridge line to the confluence.
Along the way we passed a lot of cholla, saguaro, and ocotillo cactus. There was a single engine airplane orbiting a couple thousand feet overhead just to the west. As we approached the confluence, the distinctive sound of a US Border Patrol Astar AS-350 helicopter was heard approaching from the other side of the ridge. It was slowly flying about at about 50 feet up a small wash that fed into the Aguajita Wash. There was no way they could not have seen us walking along and with our vehicle parked just to the east but they were completely uninterested in our presence.
We found all zeroes on a south east facing ridge sparsely covered with palo verde, ocotillo, and creosote and lots of small rocks.
Other than the sound of the aircraft and helicopter, it was extremely quiet on a nice winter day. This confluence would offer no shade in the summer when it would not be recommended to attempt.
After taking our pictures and sending a SPOT message, it was an easy hike back to our vehicle.
Continuing along the one way road, we went through a wash that we had been warned about at the Visitor Center. You would not want to attempt this drive after a rain due to the flash flood threat and even when dry, the wash was quite sandy and could pose a serious challenge for a normal car.
We scouted out the nearly vacant Organ Pipe Family Campground and determined that it would be very worthy of a future trip in the winter season.
TerraSync post processing of the GPS data reveals the actual confluence location was 0.3 meters west of where I had found all zeroes with a horizontal precision of 2.2 meters.
Total round trip time from the Monument Entrance was 3:28 with 41.7 miles of driving. Our round trip hike took 1:13 and was 2 miles. About 15 minutes were spent at the confluence.
What a great New Year’s confluence adventure!