03-Jan-2004 -- This trip started with a goal of two confluences, 35n-119w and 35n-120w. What appeared to be an easy confluence at 35n-119w was stopped by a washed-out road. There was a ditch about 20 feet across and 10 feet deep. Without my bike and not prepared for a 6 mile hike, we looked for other options but could not quickly find them. With a timetable to keep, we proceeded on to 35n-120w. (I will accomplish additional planning and reattempt 35n-119w shortly).
We drove west along CA 166 until we reached Sierra Madre Road (35 06.707n and 120 05.502w) This dirt road is graded and would be passable by any 2wd car. It was slightly muddy from the snow/rain
the night prior. With crystal clear skies, the road offered tremendous views in all directions. Along the way, we passed by three separate SUV's that had stopped with the occupants out practicing their marksmanship with rifles
and handguns. When we finally stopped along the road from where I would start heading for the confluence, I realized why the previous visitor's self-reported position was 700m from the confluence. The road runs atop the spine of a ridge with extremely steep slopes. I was only .1 mile from the intersection and, as I would find out, over 300' above it. Adding to the challenge I was about to undertake was the extremely thick brush completely covering the side of the mountain. Descending down this hill brought back memories of my visit to 42n-124w -- and extreme downhill bushwhacking. I felt like an ant in shag carpet. Often I needed to hold on to the brush to keep from sliding uncontrollably downhill into more brush. As I neared the confluence, it took about 10 minutes of maneuvering to zero out my two GPS receivers. I placed my eMap and RINO on a snow dusted branch. They quickly resolved their positions - the RINO even had solid WAAS corrections! Photo 3 looks east from 300 feet above the confluence on the 35n parallel. Note the rising moon - on the way down I observed a jet's contrail bisect it - cool! Photo 1 looks east from at the confluence. This is a very representative view of what I had to bushwack through all the way down. Photo 2 looks south from the confluence. Photo 6 shows my Garmin's navigational solution and how it had wandered slightly from when I set them on the branch. This is about the time I realized that I was zebra striped - covered with black stripes from my bushwhacking through the brush. This slope had previously burned and was not readily apparent from the vegetation and light coating of snow. In either case, there was nothing I could do about it. I still had over 300' vertically to climb just to get back to my vehicle. This is definitely not a confluence to attempt when these bushes are actively growing! Once back at the road, I took some more pictures. Photo 5 looks north from where I parked on the road. Photo 4 looks west from the same spot and shows the clear view towards Santa Maria and the Pacific Ocean.
Round trip time from my vehicle was 40 minutes. Round trip from the intersection of CA 166 and Sierra Madre
Road was 2.5 hours. A very good day trip. I was disappointed that I did not attain two successful visits on this trip but was confident and encouraged that I was the first to actually reach 35n-120w (within 100 meters).