15-Feb-2004 -- This would be the final of 3 successful confluence visits on this 3-day weekend (Presidents Day). We made a large (700 mile) counterclockwise loop around the Salton Sea with visits to 33n-116w, 33n-115w, and 34n-115w prior to returning home.
Planning consisted of a review of the previous visit & attempt as well as my National Geographic California topo maps. We would continue (from 33n-115w) north on Highways 78 and 95 before proceeding west on Highway 62 and south on Rice-Midland Road until Browns Well, where we would park and I would hike almost 7 miles each way to 34n-115w.
After parking off the road and setting up a 10’ PVC pipe and mounting my scanner antenna on top so my wife could keep track of my progress, I started hiking westward. I had uploaded a route into my Garmin eMap that would follow the dry wash to the south of Arica Mountain. Along this wash I startled several jack rabbits and could see evidence of abundant wildlife – dozens of instances of animal tracks and coyote scat were observed within the dry wash. The wash was also very easy to walk in. I discovered later that direct overland hiking resulted in multiple underground animal dwelling cave-ins as I walked along – stay in the wash!
I had my Motorola Talkabout and my Garmin RINO 120 with me. My plan was to make a call every ¼ mile with my wife plotting my progress on her map. As we had predicted, the audio quality and range of our Motorola Talkabouts were far superior to our Garmin RINOs. The RINO started breaking up at 1.5 miles line of sight and was not heard beyond 2.5 miles on the scanner. I could not hear on my Motorola beyond 2.5 miles but on the scanner, my wife was able to hear my blind position reports out to almost 4 miles. Interestingly, she was also able to hear a few conversations on the same frequency from pairs of vehicles traveling along Highway 62 – almost 5 miles away! They were talking about a "shoe tree" that we had seen just before Rice that looked like a trash pile (picture 7).
I continued west and began to feel like the Energizer Bunny – I had to keep going and going and going… You really have to want this confluence!
Finally, I arrived! I took my pictures and was surprised that I had AT&T digital phone service here in the middle of nowhere. I called back to my wife, relaying my success and started back. I arrived back at my RV about 30 minutes after sunset. Shadows from the Granite Mountains had overrun my eastward progress with about 1.5 miles to go. A shower and warm dinner were eagerly anticipated. We camped for the night and in the morning, completed our round trip - but not before getting a closer look at the trashy shoe tree.
The approach from the north described by Uwe Luettringhaus was easily seen and may be the preferred route for future visitors who may not want to undertake a 14 mile hike! It wasn’t hard, just long and definitely not to be attempted during the summer! A tremendous source of additional information about this area can be found at http://www.ca.blm.gov/pa/wilderness/wa/areas/palen-mccoy.html . This confluence is located within the designated Palen-McCoy Wilderness Area and no vehicles are allowed outside 300 feet from the roads, but I came across multiple 2 and 4 wheel vehicle tracks :(
Picture #1 looks north. Picture #2 looks east. Picture #3 looks south. Picture #4 looks west towards the Granite Mountains. Picture #5 shows my GPS position. Picture #6 shows the sign as you start south on Rice-Midland Road from Highway 62. Picture #7 shows a tree covered with shoes at 34 04.765n 114 48.833w just to the east of Rice along Highway 62. Litter or art? I say litter.
Total time was 5:23 with a round trip distance of 14.2 miles and elevation gain of 420 feet.
A successful confluence weekend!