11-Aug-2017 -- While on a long drive from Bend, Oregon towards Boise, Idaho on US-20 (the “Central Oregon Highway”), I was pleased when I finally crossed into Oregon’s Malheur County. Malheur County is noteworthy for two things: (1) It is the only county in Oregon that observes Mountain Time, and (2) It contains a record four Degree Confluence Points. (In the contiguous United States, this is matched only by California’s Inyo County.)
I took this opportunity to revisit this ‘forgotten’ Degree Confluence Point (visited for the first and only time by Wayne Courtain back in September 2001). I turned left from US-20 onto Pole Creek Road. This is a narrow dirt road, parts of which are covered with deep patches of sand/dust. (I’d be wary of trying to drive this road during the Spring; there’d undoubtedly be patches of deep mud then.) Pole Creek Road climbed steadily. After more than 16 miles of slow driving, I turned left onto Gregory Creek Road at 43.94788°N 117.96633°W. At this point the road became quite rocky. After several more miles of slow driving, including passing through a couple of farm gates, I eventually parked at 43.99163°N 117.97870°W, elevation 4518 feet - 1.2 miles southeast of the point.
From here, the hike to the point was fairly strenuous, climbing about 640 feet over two rock-strewn hills. (During my hike, it was also quite hot - at least 90 degrees F.)
From satellite imagery - along with Wayne Courtain’s report from September 2001 - I knew that there was a large tree at the point. While hiking to the point, I saw several burned-out tree trunks. Apparently a large brush fire had passed through this area sometime in the past few years. I wondered - would the ‘confluence tree’ still be there? Sure enough, it was; it had been spared by the fire. The tree appeared (to my non-expert eyes) to be some sort of cypress. Unfortunately, Wayne Courtain’s rock cairn - at the base of the tree - was still present after almost 16 years.
Here is a remote-controlled aerial video of this confluence point.