22-May-2002 -- After my failed attempt to reach the confluence at 45°N 106°W, I drove easterly through the rain down mostly dirt, gravel and shale roads. I reached Biddle, Montana and stopped to get something to drink at a store. I think it was the only store in Biddle.
There were three ranchers in the store shooting the breeze as well as the lady who worked there. After my last two failed attempts, I thought I should ask about the road conditions before proceeding. I showed them the route I planned on taking and they said there was no way I would get there that day after all the rain there had been. They recommended that I head south back into Wyoming and then east on a road that they said was maintained well.
Sure enough, the road they recommended was in good shape and I made it to within 1.5 miles (2.4 km) before coming to a 2-rut road that went across a field that the trip planner software recommended using. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I drove out there thinking it wouldn’t be too bad. Boy was I wrong. I immediately started spinning and sliding all over the place. I kept going because there was no way I could turn around without getting stuck. There was a barbed wire fence to the left of me and a plowed field to the right. I reached a cattle gap and knew I was in trouble. I got out, opened the barbed wire gate and pulled it back, then drove slipping and spinning through the gap.
Once on the other side of the cattle gap I tried to turn around and go back. I was in an open field and the ground was completely saturated and muddy. I was on a slight incline and I couldn’t move forward through the mud, but I could back up. Turning the steering wheel had very little effect. It took 5 or 6 attempts, but I was finally able to back up the hill far enough to be able to go forward with enough momentum to make it back through the cattle gap. I knew if I stopped I would get stuck, but I had to so I could close the cattle gap gate. It took me about an hour of rocking back and forth, spinning and slinging mud everywhere, but I finally made it back out to the main dirt road.
I drove up the road and was able to get to within a mile (1.6 km) of the confluence. It was 32° F (0° C), the wind was blowing hard and it was sleeting and raining. I got out and hiked the rest of the way to the point. The field was muddy with water standing in the low-lying areas. Along the way, I saw some antelopes standing on a rise. I finally made it to the spot and took the photos with some difficulty. The wind was blowing so hard I had to wrap my arm around a fence post to steady myself.
I made my way back to my truck. The wind was in my face and, with only a windbreaker on, I was absolutely miserable. This had been a tough day of confluence hunting. Three attempts and only one successful visit. More than anything, I wanted a hotel and a warm bed. I drove an hour and 45 minutes to the nearest town with a hotel, Broadus, Montana, and checked into a hotel. It was a dump, but it was warm and that’s all that mattered to me right then. I would get a good night’s sleep and decide whether or not to attempt any more confluences this trip. It had rained all over Wyoming and Montana and was moving east. The remainder of my planned confluences had either been rained on today or were in the path or the weather pattern. I was tired and disheartened and I had my doubts as to whether or not I would be able to reach any more them. If I did decide to go on, it was going to be to 46°N 105°N.
Coordinator's Note: The main combined image should have been split into separate photos: photo requirements.