12-Apr-2004 -- It was my daughters' Spring Break and time for another California Confluence Adventure! 36n-121w would be the second of seven confluence attempts for this trip. There had been much more deliberate planning for this confluence. The TerraServer images were a great help as well as my National Geographic TOPO! California 1:24000 maps.
Northbound on US-101, we exited at the San Ardo exit and proceeded west along the Lockwood-San Ardo road to a convenient parking spot at 35 59.458N 121 01.147W. A few miles prior, we had passed a sign clearly identifying the land as BLM (Bureau of Land Management) or public land. Picture 3 looks north from the trailhead from where I parked.
I started down a well defined trail along the spine of a ridge bounded on either side by nearly impassible brush. This trail has a significant downward slope. Picture 4 shows the bottom of the ridge trail but not quite to the confluence. Go to the right just before the stake to get around the small ditch and you will enter a triangular shaped clearing west of a southwest-northeast running meadow (reference the TerraServer image). My planned route took me from the far end of this clearing directly to the confluence point and straight through the brush. I was only about 50 meters from my objective - how hard could it be to continue? This was clearly not the path of least resistance: my forward progress was about 1 brush per minute. When I was still about 43 meters away I (wisely) back-tracked and then followed overgrown tire tracks south into the meadow.
Your routing, should you attempt this confluence, should take you south directly towards the meadow! Once in the meadow shown in Picture 5, I proceeded northeasterly along the extreme western (left) boundary just in case the farmer described by the previous visitor was around. At about 20 meters from the confluence, it was time to go back into the bushes to zero out my GPS. Luckily, the bushes here were not nearly as thick.
Picture 1 looks to the west. Picture 2 looks south. Northern and eastern shots look about the same – lots of brush so I elected to include other pictures of the actual routing.
After getting a shot of my GPS in Picture 6, I simply reversed my route back to my vehicle without the excursion deep into the brush. Picture 7 looks south back towards my Eurovan from the top of the trail. Motivated and tired from my successful confluence visit, it was now time for a change of clothes – expect lots of sweat and stickers – if you stay out of the brush at the bottom and you can avoid most of the stickers.
Total hiking time from the trailhead was 2:00 with an 1100 foot vertical elevation change in about 3.0 miles round trip. Total time from US-101 to the trailhead was 35 minutes. Total time until we were back on US-101 was about 3:30.
On our way west toward Cambria and a visit to Hearst Castle in the morning (these trips can’t be all confluences…)