10-Aug-2017 -- Confluence hunting can be an expensive hobby. My attempts to revisit this ‘forgotten’ Degree Confluence Point (previously visited just once before, in October 2001) spanned two separate visits to Oregon, and ended up costing me several days, and several hundred dollars.
My first attempts to visit this point were in May 2016. In each case I began with a long drive east from Bend along beautiful Oregon Route 380 (the “Paulina Highway”). I first approached the point from the north - driving down a gravel road (starting just east of the South Fork of the Crooked River). Unfortunately, about halfway down this road, I got a flat tire. After replacing the tire, I didn’t want to continue the attempt without a remaining spare tire, so I turned around and gave up for the day. (The hole in the tire turned out to be too large to repair, so I ended up having to buy a new tire.)
The next day I tried again. This time I was able to get to the end of the gravel road, but encountered “private property” signs. At this point I was about 3 miles north of the point. So I backtracked and made another attempt - this time from the northwest, driving first down Camp Creek Road, and then eastward along a very rough, rocky 4WD road that headed eastwards towards the point. Unfortunately this road ended at a locked gate (with a “private property” sign). As I got out of my SUV to look at the gate and sign, I noticed a stream of fluid pouring from the bottom of my engine. My worst fears had been realized! I had hit the oil pan on a rock, and it was now leaking oil. I was in the middle of nowhere, and was in real danger of destroying my engine!
I first tried to patch the leak with duct tape, but this had little effect. I then drove back to Bend, stopping en route in the towns of Post (consisting of nothing but a convenience store) and Prineville to buy motor oil to pour into my engine, to try to keep it alive. Fortunately I managed to make it back to my motel in Bend without damaging my engine. But I needed a new oil pan - and unfortunately all of the local auto repair shops were closed due to the Memorial Day holiday. So I had to extend my stay in Bend (which wasn’t too bad, because Bend is such a nice town).
The day after Memorial Day, I was able to get my SUV’s oil pan replaced (costing me several hundred more dollars). At this point, I didn’t feel like making any more attempts to visit this point, so I drove back to my home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Just over one year later, I found myself back in Bend (en route to Idaho to watch the total solar eclipse on 21 August). So I decided to make a fourth attempt to visit this point - this time from the south, taking the same route (I think) as the previous visitor (“Big Eddy”, in October 2001). Driving east for about an hour on US Highway 20, I turned north-eastward on a series of gravel roads (Van Lake and Price-Twelvemile Roads), ending at 43.90695°N 119.95650°W, where I turned northward onto a rough, rocky doubletrack road. At this point I was still about 7 miles south of the point.
Driving slowly and gingerly along rocky doubletrack roads, I turned right (northwards) at 43.93682°N 120.00307°W, then continued several more miles to 43.99893°N 119.98427°W, which was 0.8 miles east of the point. Here, I saw an even narrower doubletrack that continued westward towards the point, but I didn’t want to risk driving along this, so I parked and hiked the rest of the way.
Despite the considerable effort that I made to reach it, the point itself was quite bland. It lies, among grass and sagebrush, on top of a large flat plain (“Twelvemile Table”). Views are pretty much the same in all directions. The area has signs of being an open cattle range, but I didn’t see any cattle in the area. And fortunately I saw no sign of the ‘geocache’ that “Big Eddy” left here back in 2001.
Here is a remote-controlled aerial video of this confluence point.