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the Degree Confluence Project
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United States : California

17.7 miles (28.5 km) WNW of New Cuyama, Santa Barbara, CA, USA
Approx. altitude: 1344 m (4409 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap topo aerial world confnav)
Antipode: 35°S 60°E

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

#2: 360-degree panorama standing at the confluence point (thumbnail is a partial view) #3: A shot of the Sierra Madres standing at the confluence point #4: The brave Toyota and Sierra Madre Road #5: 35N 120W from space (courtesy of Microsoft Terraserver)

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  35°N 120°W (visit #1)  

#1: A beautiful view of the Sierra Madre mountains with the confluence point

(visited by Joshua McGee and Jennifer McGee)

17-Oct-1999 -- The point on the earth's surface corresponding to 35 degrees north, 120 degrees west just happens to be in the middle of the Sierra Madre mountains of California at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. When I was looking for confluence points near me, I discounted this one at first. The brush tends to be very thick in these mountains ... that is, in areas without steep precipices. I do not have the equipment, courage, or inclination to attempt a confluence point on the face of a mountain. Just for kicks, though, I checked the Terraserver site to see what the terrain looked like.

Now, let me explain the road situation in the Sierra Madres: the simplest description would be "there aren't any", simply because the very few exiting roads are so few and far between that they hardly deserve mention. Much to my surprise, however, the Terraserver site showed a road running almost straight through the confluence point (photo #5)! With this luck there was no choice: I had to attempt this point. I went to my local AAA office and got a map of Santa Barbara County. Sure enough, the map showed the road (Sierra Madre Road, as a matter of fact) and the crosshairs of 35N 120W immediately to the west. The map legend showed the road in question to be a "graded dirt road", which sounded good enough to me.

After an absolutely restless night of Santa Ana winds (the hot, dry, dangerously fast desert winds that seasonally sweep across Southern California) throwing trees against my windows, my wife and I decided to get out of bed at dawn and make the beautiful drive up into the Sierra Madres. After about two and a half hours we found the spot where Sierra Madre Road meets Highway 166, and started the ascent. We crossed a marker that said "All vehicles must bear 'Forest Adventure Pass' decals to proceed" (which we didn't have) and continued up the "graded dirt road". I learned quickly that "graded dirt road" is secret AAA code for "lots of very big rocks" (the portion you see in photo #4 is by far the smoothest area ... you'll just have to take my word on this.) After rattling and rolling for fifteen miles in our little dusty Celica, frequently with sheer drops on one or both sides, we crossed 35N and I parked the car.

It was only a short walk off the road to find the region. My GPS receiver was hopping around a bit and the standard GPS dance wasn't working. Some fixes were closer, some were further, but the display showed about 35 degrees 00.25 minutes North, 120 degrees 00.35 minutes West when the photograph was taken.

Standing in this estimated confluence point, I took a full 360-degree field of photographs which I stiched together to form the panorama found in photo #2.

I think photo #1 is the most representative picture of the area, with photo #3 being a close second. It will, however, be photo #1 I will have on my shirt!

There are more confluences in my general area that I look forward to visiting in the near future (ideally sans mountain driving.)

Finally, I would like to thank my friend John E. of Redmond, WA for bringing the Degree Confluence Project to my attention on the Public Forum of another excellent and geographically-minded site: www.wheresgeorge.com.

Joshua McGee, Thousand Oaks, CA, 19h00, 17 October, 1999


 All pictures
#1: A beautiful view of the Sierra Madre mountains with the confluence point
#2: 360-degree panorama standing at the confluence point (thumbnail is a partial view)
#3: A shot of the Sierra Madres standing at the confluence point
#4: The brave Toyota and Sierra Madre Road
#5: 35N 120W from space (courtesy of Microsoft Terraserver)
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)