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the Degree Confluence Project
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United States : California

5.1 miles (8.2 km) SW of Lakeport, Lake, CA, USA
Approx. altitude: 847 m (2778 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap topo aerial world confnav)
Antipode: 39°S 57°E

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

#2: Clear Lake and volcanic cone View ENE #3: Mt. Konocti almost due east #4: Avin's GPS #5: My GPS

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  39°N 123°W (visit #2)  

#1: Ancient Geographers at N39 W123

(visited by Bill McJunkin and Avin Hill)

27-Dec-2000 -- On the evening of December 26, 2000 I sent my partner in confluence hunting an e-mail stating something to the effect that we should start thinking about n39 x w123... The following morning I am jolted from a sound sleep by Avin's phone call... "OK, lets go today..."

I throw some clothes on and toss a few things in the cooler for lunch and Avin rings the doorbell, his gear is in my "Zookster" ready to go. The Ancient Geographers were about to depart for Lake county, about eighty miles west of Yuba City, CA. We hurry to get in the "Zookster" because that will be the last chance we have to hurry... the little machine with it's 1.5 Liter engine clicks along at 55 mph. just fine but no more than that. On uphill grades often much less, downhill sometimes more. I have given us the name Ancient Geographers due to the fact that our combined ages is a little more than 130.5 years. Our combined weight is a secret but we do stabilize the Zookster.

The trip to Lake county takes us across miles of rice fields filled with millions of ducks and geese this time of the year. Beyond the rice-lands comes the Sacramento River then the cotton fields, more rice and then vineyards of Coulsa County. Wine grapes are the new gold of Northern California. Formerly grown only in Napa, Sonoma and Mendicino counties, they are now grown clear to the Sierra Nevada's on the eastern side of the Sacramento Valley.

The land changes dramatically as we approach the first vineyards. The miles of flat valley floor suddenly become huge mounds of ancient sea-floor mud, thrust up into huge ridges, some rounded others jagged like the teeth of some ancient monster that might have lived there in times long gone. These mountains are relatively young as mountains go and changes (land-slides and erosion) often change their appearance dramatically. Blue oaks and several species of dwarf oaks cover much of these hills and cattle graze on many of the hillsides. Deer and elk herds a common site in this area.

We continue west on Highway 20 past scattered cattle ranches and closed quicksilver mines to the junction of Highway 20 and Highway 53. Turning south on 53 we travel through the towns of Clearlake Park and Clearlake dumbfounded by their growth until we come to Lower Lake and Highway 29. Here we turn west again crossing to the south of Clear Lake. Clear Lake is a rather large shallow lake noted for it's resorts, sailing and bass fishing tournaments. There is nothing clear about it. It is incredibly developed along the shoreline and has a huge quicksilver (mercury) mine on it's eastern shore. Natural deposits of soda and sulfur give some of the local hot springs a distinctive aroma. Names like Soda Bay, Sulfur Bank, Borax Lake and Little Borax Lake give a clue to the volcanic nature of this area. Mt Konocti is veined with natural volcanic glass (obsidian) which can raise havoc with tires and hiking boots. The heavy growth of brush in many areas provides cover for all sorts of wildlife including rattlesnakes, coyotes, bobcats, bear and deer.

We continued up highway 29 to Highway 175 between Kelseyville and Lakeport. Taking 175 west (29 had turned north) we started watching our respective GPS receivers. We were getting close. 38°59' north by 122°58' west would be the turn-off we were looking for. I had mad up a quickie map with Street Atlas 3 with Long/Lat. map notes beginning with the gravel road that turned north from Highway 175. North on this fine gravel road to the first closed gate to the left. A fire road at 39° 00' 04" north by 123° 00' 03" west was the way-point. Parking the Zookster we took our cameras and GPS receivers and hiked up the fire road past the 123° 00' 00" looking to see if the brush thinned out. Near the top of the hill a sharp turn to the left doubled back to a clearing, possibly a heli-pad for the fire crews. An old burn, the entire area was manzanita so thick as to be impassable. Just beyond the heli-pad was a recent re-burn of the brush. A fire from this summer and it looked like our goal was in this semi-clear area. A few minutes of wading through the burned manzanita gave both of us semi-permanent tiger stripes from the charcoal limbs drawing across our clothes.

The fact that we were in a clearing near the top of a hill made getting a fix easier than last time at n40 x 121w in snow covered second growth. We were truly lucky. This year's spot fire had exposed our site and cut hours of work for us. Manzanita and its associate, buckbrush can make travel almost impossible except on game trails which never go where I want to go.

The View of Mt. Konocti was screened by trees on a nearby ridge. Konocti is actually a volcanic mountain composed of many peaks including: Buckingham Peak, Clark Peak, Wright Peak, Howard Peak and South Peak. We were able to see Clear Lake from the site although not well. A short hike up the hill provided a much better view. One of the many minor volcanic cones north of Konocti is visible in one of my photos and Konocti is visible through the trees in the other. A short distance to the west of the confluence is a Pomo Indian reservation. For those who are into the names of small mountain ranges this confluence is located in the Mayacmas Range...

Our next trip will be planned for sure. We have used up all of our luck finding easy sites. The next one will probably be in the bottom of a snake filled canyon or on top of some vertical formation that has never been climbed.


 All pictures
#1: Ancient Geographers at N39 W123
#2: Clear Lake and volcanic cone View ENE
#3: Mt. Konocti almost due east
#4: Avin's GPS
#5: My GPS
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)