21-Apr-2016 -- As I had been in the region conducting several workshops focused on implementing geographic information systems (GIS) in education and society, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect capstone. As a geographer, I considered 44 North 89 West to be "on the way" from the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison to the Milwaukee airport, even though it was over 100 miles out of a direct route. Thus, by 6:30am, I was on my way north from the University of Wisconsin Madison on I-90/94/39, through some wonderful Wisconsin glacial landscapes. Some patchy fog made for some wonderful photographic moments, but I was in a bit of a hurry and needed to keep moving. I had read about this point for many years, and was wondering, "would this be as difficult as I had thought it might be?"
I drove through some wonderful towns as I left I-39, stopping briefly to look at the waterfalls, amazingly, next to a convenience store, in Montello. Princeton was another nice town with a great wetland on its south side. After winding through some beautiful countryside across the White River Marsh Wildlife Area, I drove north on 30th Drive past some pleasant residences with big lawns. I parked on 30th Drive just north of the wide canal. My GPS gave a reading of about a mile to the confluence.
After stopping there, I gathered supplies and set off to the east, becoming quickly wet midway up to my knees. I skirted the south side of the woodland to the north, and passed under some wildlife observation towers, passed through a wonderful wetland, across a trail, and arrived at the point. The sun was peeking through some clouds and it was a glorious spring morning. The reeds were just greening up after the winter. The reeds seemed to be relieved after carrying the weight of earlier spring snows.
This was one of the most scenic confluence points I have visited in 14 years. The confluence lies on flat ground, in the wetland but at this time of year, even though it was spring, it was not as wet as it could have been. The long reeds made hiking difficult, but prevented me from getting too soaking wet. I saw no people or large animals. I had stood on 44 North several times before, from South Dakota on the west to Maine on the east, and on 89 West from Wisconsin to Mississippi. This was my northernmost spot on 89 West. I now had a nice tidy sum of confluences in Wisconsin, in the northwest, northeast, and southern parts of the state, with an attempt just east of this one to boot. It was a very pleasant 65 degrees F at the point with only a light breeze, and the sounds of frogs to the west and birds over the woodland. I hiked out the way I had come in, until I came to the woodland, and took the periphery of the woodland northwest until I had only one ravine to cross before reaching the north-south road. Afterwards, I had a pleasant hike along the road to the south to reach my vehicle. Once there, I changed my shoes and socks.
I exited the area and drove off to the southeast, wishing I could stop at Holy Hill, one of my favorite places, but needing to get to the Milwaukee airport. As it turned out, I had plenty of time, but I was able to get some work done while at the gate. I have visited many points that proved more difficult than I had anticipated. This point proved to be much easier than I thought it would be. I owe it in part to the time of year, but also in approaching from the west. And it was even more beautiful, which was the best part of all.