27-Dec-2004 -- On a trip to Heber City Utah to visit family, we found ourselves at loose ends on Monday because everybody else was working. What to do? Forget the famous “Ski Utah!” slopes at Park City, or even the historic “Heber Creeper” steam train -— we’ll do a confluence! We borrowed my brother Randall’s car, consulted with my brother Joel, who had visited this very confluence a few years ago, gathered provisions, and off we went.
We headed north out of Heber City on Hwy 32 and then Hwy 150, marked as a scenic byway on the map and recommended by the lady at the Visitor’s Information Center. Unfortunately, Hwy 150 was signed “Road closed ahead 14 miles.” So, now to plan B. We continued north again on Hwy 32 through several small towns, hopped on I-80, and got off at Coalville. We turned left on Main Street and then almost missed the road heading north toward Pineview -— signed as Chalk Creek Road. We followed this road for about 20 miles, right up to the Wyoming border. The map said we’d have to turn right to stay in Utah, but actually, the road to Evanston required a leftish turn. We followed the main road, which almost immediately curved right around a natural gas plant. There we saw a “No winter maintenance” sign, but the road was mostly clear of snow, so we pressed on. At another bend, to the left, is a small, red-rock monument marking the original survey border of Utah/Wyoming from 1873. Interestingly, it is marked 41 N, 34 W (counted from Washington D.C.!) rather than 111 W. We actually stopped to see this monument as we returned from the confluence.
The topo and satellite maps had indicated jeep trails that came closer to the confluence than the road we were following, but since we weren’t in a jeep, we found a wide spot in the road to park the car and headed up the ridge. We quickly discovered that our bodies, now acclimatized to near-sea-level altitudes, felt the strain of cross-country hiking straight up hills at something over 7000 feet. Reaching the crest of the ridge, we found a ravine between us and the confluence, so down we slithered through alternating drifted snow and slippery red clay soil. Near the bottom we found one of the jeep trails, followed it up the ravine for a while, then decided we needed the next ridge, so up we went again. Skirting the next ridge at a slightly lower elevation as before, we eventually saw ahead a small wooded patch that must contain the confluence. Eric slid down an icy snowdrift and performed the amazingly brief confluence dance (with 7 satellites locked in, the GPS easily zeroed) while Michelle stayed on the ridge (still well within 100 meters) and took the NEWS photos. Toward the south, we could see some of the snow covered Uintah peaks. This would be an especially beautiful view in the fall, when the aspen covering many of the hillsides would be turning gold.
From the confluence, we could see yet another jeep trail below us. There was also some kind of signal relay built on the next ridge, which we had noticed from the other side driving in. It's marked on the topo maps as "Radio Tower", but it's only a flat surface, like a blank billboard, probably for reflecting a signal. Deciding that down was a much easier return route, we headed that way. This jeep trail may well have been built as an access to build the relay, and made for much easier hiking. We passed the junction of this jeep trail and the one we found past the first ridge. Nearing the road, we saw a small draw that headed back toward where we were parked, so we followed that, paralleling the road. On our return drive, we marked a way point where these jeep trails met the road. This draw is fenced along the road, but did have a gate that was, today at least, unlocked. The gate was at 40°59.158'N 111°00.296'W. If you follow that road, and take the left fork (the topos show the left fork as only a streambed -- trust us, it's a road!), the draw takes you almost all the way to the confluence on reasonably smooth, moderate terrain.
With a successful confluence visit achieved, we headed back to civilization and food!