27-Jun-2019 -- Researching this Degree Confluence Point beforehand, I was puzzled that most of the visitors had made a difficult hike from the East, yet satellite imagery clearly showed forest roads leading almost directly to the point from the Northwest. Why not just take these forest roads from the Northwest? What was the catch?
Shawn Fleming - 6 years ago, in June 2013 - gave us the answer. He took these forest roads, but discovered a locked gate several miles away. He covered the remaining distance on a mountain bike.
Fortunately I, too, had a mountain bike in the back of my SUV, so I was able to retrace Shawn’s path to reach the point. For future visitors, here is a detailed description of the route (which appears to be the easiest route by far):
- From Road 55, turn Southwest onto Road 555 at [40.04986,-106.03065] (“Cottonwood Pass”).
- At a 4-way junction at [40.03239,-106.03683] ("Big Meadows”), you’ll reach a locked gate. The remainder of the route is closed to motor vehicles. Park here, cross the gate, and hike or mountain bike the rest of the way (still on Road 555).
- Turn left off road 555 at [40.01933,-106.02901].
- Stay left at [40.01594,-106.01820]. The road now makes a long descent, with several downed trees to cross.
- Stay right at [40.00120,-106.00270]. (After this point, there are a large number of downed trees. If you have a mountain bike, you may wish to stash it here, and hike the short distance that remains.)
- At [39.99930,-106.00030], you’ll be less than 100m South of the point. Bushwhack down the slope to the point.
This route - from the locked gate - is about 4 miles each way. The point lies on a Southeast-facing slope, at an elevation of about 9100 feet. (This is about 500 feet lower than the locked gate.) The point lies among numerous downed trees. I was surprised that so many of the trees here appear to be dead or dying; This is very evident from the drone’s-eye photo of the point. (Joseph Kerski tells me that the problem is pine beetle
Here is a remote-controlled aerial video of this confluence point.