20-Jan-2001 -- This is our first confluence. 40N 124W lies about 200
miles north of our homes in San Francisco.
We set out early Saturday morning for an ambitious day trip and reached the
Walaiki campground in the King Range Conservation Area at about 12:30pm PST.
The Wailaki campground was empty except for us. Walaiki, which takes its name
from the Walaiki dialect spoken by Native Americans indigenous to the area, has
about a dozen rustic campsites, each equipped with fireplaces, and there are two
very clean latrines. For a dollar per day, the campground is quite a bargain.
According to our topo map, we were expecting about a two-mile hike with a
steep climb at the beginning. The trail passes within about 100 feet of the confluence
on the ridgeline of Chemise Mountain. We set out on our hike to the confluence
at about 1pm PST. The weather was overcast. The mistiness continually threatened
to break into a full rain, but never actually did, so we managed to remain relatively
dry. Bigfoot is rumored to wander in these hills which have a distinct Blair Witch
aura, so we were on our guard. Despite the remoteness of the location, we should
have kept our eyes open for more urban prowlers.
While the confluence technically lies in Mendocino County, one approaches
the spot by hiking through the woods of Humboldt County. From the campground,
we ascended about 800 feet through redwoods, fern, moss, and manzanita. Near
the confluence, the ground levels into a quieter pinier plateau. The smell becomes
vaguely chemical. The bark of the low bushes and shrubs has a sheen.
At a GPS reading of just 42 feet from the confluence we heard some cackling.
Heading in the direction of the laughter and the confluence, we came upon Jim
and Beth, who had arrived at the confluence about an hour before. After hiking
about 2 miles through woods, which are supposedly some of the least traveled
forest areas in Northern CA, we were surprised to find two people already there. It
was disappointing to not be first, but it was funny to run into other displaced San
Franciscans holding GPS receivers in the middle of the wilderness.
We left a Geocache at the confluence,
and Jim and Beth were the first people to make an entry into our Pesky Confluence
GeoCache Logbook. There is a Polaroid camera in the GeoCache that other people
will hopefully use to leave a record of their visit. As it turns out, confluences are nice
places to socialize.
We lingered a little while taking pictures and hiked back. We stopped for dinner at
the Purple Thistle in Willits, CA and then continued home from our long pilgrimage.
Jules and Jeff