22-Mar-2014 -- As we had just arrived in the state to visit Colgate University, I thought, "What better way to get immersed in the landscape of the prospective university than to get ON the landscape?" A confluence visit is an excellent way to do just that. And so, heading east on I-90 after landing at Syracuse airport, as we neared the town of Mohawk, anticipation mounted. For me, at least. My colleague was a good sport about it!
We crossed the town's main river on Highway 28, then south-southwest on Columbia Street. Mohawk is a pleasant town, although the skies were very gloomy and the temperature cold. It was just past the vernal equinox, but apparently that fact had not affected the local weather conditions in the slightest. We turned southeast on Highway 168 and then left on the lane that led up to the school on the south side of town. I checked with my companion one last time with warnings that it would be a cold, snowy, and possibly thorny and icy trek. What could be better than these four elements? But she accompanied me: We gathered supplies, donned hats and gloves, and then headed east from the lower parking lot. Straight before us to the east was something I had somehow not anticipated from looking at the maps and satellite images beforehand: A high ridge lay between us and the confluence, steep and covered with snow and trees.
Not to be dissuaded, we left "civilization" and hiked straight up the ridge, thinking that the trees would break our fall and therefore be a safer option than the clearing just to the north. I could not quite determine why trees had been removed from the clearing, but as we saw nothing overhead such as powerlines, it was most likely because of an underground gas or other type of pipeline. We tried not to slip, as some of the snow had melted and then refrozen into ice, but it was challenging. We encountered some thorns near the top but emerged without too many scratches at the ridge top about 15 or 20 minutes after our hike began. The top of the ridge stretched with a clearing to the southeast, glazed over with an extensive ice sheet that had partly melted and then refrozen. We skirted the sheet on the northern end of the field. As we did so, a large herd of white-tailed deer made a hasty exit, followed by others, for several minutes. Anticipation mounted as we crossed over a small bridge to the next field to the east. There was a grassy low rise to the east-northeast where the we knew the confluence would lay. It was here where something happened that no doubt we would have discussions about for years to come.
I was in the lead looking down at my GPS receiver while walking, when I noticed that Lilia had paused and seemed a bit shaken. She said that she saw some sort of creature on the low ridge where we were bound. Deer? No. Either a wolf, a small bear, or a dog. It had disappeared. Should we press on? I gingerly climbed the grassy slope and fortunately, whatever had been there had gone. Lilia joined me and we rather hastily took photographs and video, spending only a few minutes at the site. I placed the full video on my video channel; search on 75 West to find it. We had nothing to defend ourselves out here, and a camera and a GPS would not ward off any creature that was in a bad mood.
I was amassing a small tidy number of New York confluence points, with this one and the three confluence points to the west of this, at 76, 77, and 78 west, as well as a point near the Hudson River in southeastern New York. This was my first confluence point in New York in several years. It was also good to be back on such a significant line of longitude, that of 75 west, where I had stood twice before, both times in New Jersey. I have numerous points along 43 North besides the aforementioned ones in New York, from Idaho on the west to South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, here in New York, and ending with New Hampshire on the east. The temperature was about 22 F (-6 C) with a bit of breeze and very dark skies. Fortunately, it was not snowing or raining. The landscape was still definitely locked into the winter season, with not even a hint that it was now officially springtime.
We hiked out the way we had come in, and in retrospect, even though I had considered approaching the point from the northeast, we had chosen the best path, despite the snowy ridge. We saw no more deer, them having all departed, nor any mysterious creatures either, fortunately. We could see our vehicle far below after crossing the western field. To descend the ridge, we chose the trees to the north of the clearing, which was a less thorn-filled route, and while we had to be very careful, emerged on the road without mishap. The total round trip time ended at just over an hour. At the parking lot gathered about 6 teen aged boys and 1 teen aged girl skateboarding. We said hello. It must have seemed a bit odd to them to see us emerge from the ridge, for it was not really the right kind of terrain or weather in which to be hiking, but they asked us no questions. We then had a very enjoyable drive through the countryside en route to the beautiful campus of Colgate University. The confluence visit was indeed a perfect way to begin this trip!