06-Nov-2004 -- A fine November afternoon found AJ Torgerson and I (Joseph Kerski) driving northeast out of Denver, Colorado, on Interstate Highway 76 to Hudson. At Hudson, we headed due east on State Highway 52, which is exactly 40.0732 North latitude. People who have never been to the North American Great Plains may be amazed to learn that this highway, like many others, runs east-west for many kilometers (this one, over 80 km) in an absolute straight line. The sky was clear, and the road lay in the autumn afternoon sun, and it was a pleasure to confluence with AJ. In 2002, we boated to 48 N 99 W in Devils Lake, North Dakota.
We passed from Weld into Morgan County, taking a road south to Hoyt, and south on a few more roads until I noticed that our latitude was south of 40 North. We drove slowly on the dirt roads to avoid getting stuck, as the roads were wet from the snow we had received 5 days earlier. We backtracked and headed due east on 168th Avenue, the Morgan-Adams County line, and also just a few tens of meters north of being exactly on 40 degrees North Latitude. We turned north on Road 11, and then east on Road B until the road dead-ended at a farmhouse. Looking at us from the front yard were a 40-year old man and woman and their three dogs, including a Rottweiler, who fortunately looked fairly old and docile. He (the Rottweiler) sniffed us and appeared disinterested, and we cautiously approached the landowners, explaining our intentions. The woman stated that at least 4 people had asked her the same question in the past, and she told us to go back to Road 11 and try from there. She stated that the point was on the neighbor's land. I showed them the GPS map clearly indicating that it would be shorter to embark on the hike from their house, but as she was insistent that we leave, I thought it was best not to argue the "point." Therefore, even though we knew the hike would be longer if we did not leave from their house, we drove back to where Road 11 bends around to meet 168th Avenue, and began our hike at 250pm local time.
Indeed, it was a fine afternoon, temperature 61 F (16 C), and surprisingly for the Great Plains, with almost no wind. We hiked due east along a line that was just 40 meters north of 40 North latitude. We discussed how 40 North was formerly the boundary between Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory, before Colorado became a state, and if we kept following this line to the east, we would indeed be on the present-day Kansas-Nebraska line. After passing over a small hill, we climbed a gate and could clearly see our destination at the powerline in the distance. The total distance to the confluence was 3.35 kilometers, along a rutted trail most of the way, just south of a fenceline. After climbing the gate, we had to climb over one barbed wire fence to reach the point. The walk was pleasant, but we needed to be back in Denver soon, so we walked as briskly as we could. This was difficult due to the mud left from the melting snow, and the prickly pear cactus that abounded. I kept expecting to slip and do a face plant in the mud, but nothing quite that exciting occurred. Upon reaching the powerline, we tacked to the south and easily zeroed out the GPS receiver with, at times, over 8 satellites visible.
We arrived at the confluence at 325pm local time. The confluence lies on flat ground, under powerlines, in a field that had obviously been grazed in the past by cattle. Short grass, cactus, and bare ground marked the confluence point. We could see cattle in the distance, and had passed some at the beginning of the trail, but saw no other animals at first. At the end of our 15 minute visit, AJ spotted a large herd of antelope to the northeast. The western view was the longest, with the Rocky Mountain Front Range clearly visible beneath a sinking sun. The lake on the topographic map had disappeared, and so had the creek. However, the creek was aptly named "Muddy Creek" and was actually a wide area of mud slightly lower than the rest of the terrain. I had been to 40 North several times, in California, Coloardo, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, but this confluence marked my first "four corners" pattern, in which I have visited all 4 confluences in a 1 degree rectangle.
We hiked back the way we came, arriving at the vehicle at 410 pm local time. Total hiking time was 1 hour and 20 minutes. We then drove back west toward the mountains and Denver, treated to a wonderful sunset reflecting off of the wave clouds downwind from the mountains. An excellent afternoon!