01-Oct-2004 -- I was traveling from my home near San Diego, CA to Tucson, AZ to help staff a charity event with my friend and fellow confluence hunter Bill Fee. I noticed that this one had not been completely documented and decided to swing a little south and take a look.
As noted by previous visitors, this confluence is on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation. This name means “Desert People” in their language; you may be more familiar with their old name: Papago. About 26,000 members live on this reservation of 2.8 million acres, an area roughly the size of Connecticut. The Tohono O’odham Nation’s (TON’s) capital is in Sells, AZ. TON operates its own utility authority supplying water, power and communication services to the reservation. Sells is also home to Tohono O’odham Community College whose inspiring motto is “Our Dream Fulfilled”. Other TON enterprises include 2 casinos and an industrial park near Tucson.
The easiest way to reach this confluence is to walk west on an existing dirt road that shows on both the topo and aerial views. I parked my car off of SR 86 at N32.00036º W111.98579º. There is a gate in the barbed wire fence there and no indication that this land is posted. I walked on the road just about a mile and then north about 500 feet. The vicinity is dead flat and typical Sonoran desert. When it rains hard here much goes underwater and there are flash flood warning signs on the highway.
The shot to the SE shows Baboquivari Peak, a sacred mountain to the O’odham. They believe that this is the naval of the world, where they emerged after the great flood. Just like my visit to 33N 106W, the confluence was in a creosote bush preventing all zeros. The view to the east shows Kitt Peak National Observatory; see: http://www.noao.edu/kpno/. There are observatory tours if you drive to the top of this 6375 ft (1943m) peak. Also a great gift shop with an interesting amalgam of astronomy items and O’odham baskets.
The view to the west includes a nice example of a mesquite tree. This important plant thrives in all the North American deserts except the Great Basin. They produce beans which are sweet to the taste and provide food for humans and many desert animals. Coyotes eat them when available and the hulls are seen in their scat. This tree has a huge tap root which may go as deep as 50 feet and a secondary root system at the surface to collect rainfall. The magnificent saguaro and cholla cacti were also prevalent.
A heads up to future visitors: this area is subject to intense enforcement by three agencies: Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Agency and the Tohono O’odham tribal police. Each year, hundreds of immigrants die while crossing this desert to seek work in the US. Drug trafficking also occurs in this area. In response, there has been a dramatic increase in both manpower and remote surveillance to detect and interdict this traffic. I carried the DCP “Letter to Landowners” with me and also wore my nerdy, but snazzy, DCP tee shirt. Be aware that you may be challenged by someone in this area, and they may not be very nice.
I tended bar at the charity event which was a success, netting over $25,000 for the Catalina Council of the Boy Scouts of America.