27-Aug-2004 -- Having just successfully visited 41n123w, my next objective was 40n123w. How long could it take to travel only 1 degree of latitude south? If you were to follow the route I took from Weaverville south along Highway 3 then west on Highway 36, and then southeast again on various roads leading to Covelo, the answer is about 4 hours. It was very scenic, but these roads were very narrow and winding. Taking CA-299 west to US-101 and south to CA-162 and then east to Covelo would have been a lot farther but probably much shorter in time. Such are the roads throughout the Mendocino National Forest and the Yolla Bolly Wilderness Area.
From Covelo, I continued east on California 162 turning north at N39 49.552 W123 05.030 This road is paved until approximately N39 51.550 W122 59.367, I continued north on a fairly good dirt road until I reached the start of Ant Ridge Road (Picture #6) and continued up this road until its end (Picture #7). You can easily reach this spot with a high clearance 2wd vehicle.
My original plan was a survey to find the best approach so I could visit this confluence at a later date. However, I was now less than 2 miles away and noting how long it took me to simply to get to a starting point, I decided that spending the night here and hiking a few more miles in the morning with a couple blisters on my feet would be easier in the long run than spending another entire weekend just to get back to where I was at the time. Besides, I could see the ridge in the distance (Picture #7) that I would have to climb. How hard could this be?
A hot dinner and a very sound night of sleep were very refreshing. After breakfast, I started up through the dense forest knowing from the TerraServer imagery that I would soon break out into the clear on the spine of Ant Ridge. After about a quarter mile and 400 vertical feet up I was on top of the ridge. I continued ascending this ridge until it merged with Hammerhorn Ridge where I proceeded west for awhile before continuing down the far (north) side to the confluence located a half mile and 600 vertical feet below. This was a half mile with significant slopes in a dense forest with lots of fallen trees and other obstacles to navigate around.
The confluence itself is located in a small clearing just besides a small dry drainage described by George Butler in his visit. Looking north, I could see across Rattlesnake Creek valley to Soldier Ridge (Picture #3). In hindsight, I think this would have been the preferable route in late summer when the streams are dry or very low. The distance through the dense forest would be about the same but the overall distance and elevation change would be significantly less.
There were lots of large black ants on the forest floor. When I came back to my pack for my camera, dozens of these ants were climbing all over it. Luckily all the zippers were closed. I had hoped to get a picture with simultaneous zeroes on my GPS receivers but this is tougher than it sounds. I have several shots that show a single receiver with all zeroes but none where they all show integer degrees. Whatever their collective position uncertainty would resolve to, they all agreed I was within 10 meters of the intersection as shown in Picture #5.
Picture #1 looks south and shows the way back towards the top of Hammerhorn Ridge. Picture #2 looks west showing the small clearing. Picture #4 looks west and is very typical of the obstacles along the forest floor.
It was time to retrace my steps back to my car. When I was on top of Hammerhorn Ridge, I took several pictures including one showing the view south in Picture #8. I ate a small lunch and took in the tremendous panorama from my vantage point. At this spot I was 800 feet above the confluence and 1500 feet above where I had parked. I was also surprised to have 3 bars of AT&T cell phone signal here allowing me to call home and relay success and an estimated return time to my wife.
The trip down would have been much faster if not for those blisters on my feet and general fatigue from my journeys in the past couple days.
Overall round trip was 4.7 miles in 5:10 It took another 3 hours of driving just to get to Interstate 5. My trip home from this confluence would take me diagonally 5 degrees south and 5 degrees east and the better part of 10 hours.
An outstanding trip to the mountains. The remoteness of this confluence may be the primary reason why I’m only its second visitor!