16-Apr-2015 -- I’ve had my eye on this confluence point for some time. It’s one of the few points in California that I had yet to visit, but it’s only a few hours drive away from my home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
However, because I knew that the visit would take most of the day, I decided to spend the previous evening in the town of Fort Bragg, on the beautiful Mendocino County coast. From Fort Bragg, I drove to the town of Willits to rejoin US-101 North, and then took Highway 162 through the beautiful Round Valley through the small town of Covelo, in a Native American reservation. (Despite having lived in California for more than 30 years, I was unaware of this part of the state until I began exploring Degree Confluence points!)
Shortly after passing through Covelo, I turned left onto (the delightfully named) Indian Dick Road. I continued on this road for about 21 miles as it climbed up a hill, then down into a valley, then up another hill. The first 10 miles were paved; the remainder gravel. (Much of the road passed through an area that had been badly burned in a forest fire a few years earlier.) I then turned left onto Ant Ridge Road (also gravel), which climbed for about 5 miles, before ending (probably not coincidentally) at the Mendocino-Trinity County Line. At this point [39.977664,-122.997938], I was at an elevation of about 5200 feet, and about 1.5 miles (as the crow flies) south of the confluence point.
The first part of the hike was especially strenuous: A steep climb (550 feet elevation gain) up the hillside onto the top of Ant Ridge, which ran northwards towards Hammerhorn Ridge, and the confluence point beyond. Once on top of Ant Ridge, I turned left (northwards) to continue along the ridge top as it continued to ascend. I eventually reached the high point - at the summit of another ridge (Hammerhorn Ridge), which runs roughly southeast-to-northwest. At this point I was at 6733 feet elevation - i.e., more than 1500 feet higher than my starting point!
The confluence point lay about 1/2 mile beyond Hammerhorn Ridge, on a forested slope at about 5900 feet elevation. So, to reach it, I had to descend hundreds of feet down a slope (and then climb back up again on the return trip). One thing that I hadn’t counted on beforehand (although I should have, if I’d read George Butler’s report) was snow. At this time of the year (mid-April) there were still large patches of snow on several north-facing slopes (including the one on which the confluence point lies). George Butler - who visited in early May - reported snow as deep as 1.5 metres. Fortunately, however, even though my visit was a few weeks earlier in the year, I found much less snow - no more than a couple of inches in most places. The reason: California is in the midst of an extreme drought, and we had had an unusually dry winter, with very little snow falling in the mountains.
The confluence point itself is in a fairly nondescript point on the forested slope (with patches of snow nearby). The (high elevation!) hike back was long and slow; I was relieved to finally return to my car - even though I still faced a very long drive back to the Bay Area.
A warning to any future visitors: Be sure to allow enough time. It takes about 2 hours to drive to the starting point from US-101, and the round-trip hike to the confluence point and back - despite being only 5.3 miles - took me 4 hours! There’s a good reason why this is a rarely-visited point.