02-Nov-2014 -- We approached this confluence from the northwest having just visited 41°N 109°W in the corner of the state. We took Route 318 into Maybell, then south on the well-paved CR 57 until hitting Route 64. Then a quick right (south) on Route 13 and another quick right on CR 33, a dirt road made pretty mucky by the recent rain. Finally, another quick left onto CR 67 and we were fully bogged down. I was thanking my lucky stars we were in a 4WD Jeep, but even this was worrisome as we descended the hillside slop until this pull-off about 0.6 miles due east of the confluence. It was 38°F and drizzly, and at 3:30pm sunset was only 1.5 hours away (first day after Daylight Savings Time ended) so we got right to hiking.
The hiking was a mucky mess with all the day’s rain – wear boots if you’re attempting this one on a similar day! Seeing no No Trespassing signs we went through the gate to the ranch site just west of where we parked, but as we approached we realized that it was just a cluster of outbuildings and not a homestead. Still, we hollered to see if anyone was around (we saw recent tire tracks on the driveway approach) but there was no reply. We left the prepared landowner letter rolled up in the chain door lock to what appeared to be the principal shed, and then we set a course due west toward the confluence.
Looking back over our shoulders after five minutes we could see a house on a ridge above where we had parked that may have been the house of the landowners. We waved but could not make out if anyone was watching in the windows. Also in this direction (east) as the drizzle tapered off and the clouds cleared in the west we saw a massive rainbow (photo #2): our third of the day, each one separated by at least a couple hours. What a Sunday. We couldn’t walk backwards to facilitate uninterrupted gawking, however, as the ground cover was densely spotted with rain-wet horse/cow/pronghorn droppings and large holes here and there amid the scrubby vegetation. We descended a tiny hill, gingerly stepped over an unmarked barbed wire fence, traversed a dry streambed, and finally reached the site.
Zeroed out and pictures taken, we returned to the car the exact way we came, arriving back at 4:30pm exactly an hour after we had set out. The Jeep made it up the sloppy slope more readily than expected and Kurt and I continued the rest of the way south down Route 13 into Rifle and then east on I-70. We arrived at his and his wife’s home at 9:00pm after a pit stop for a well-deserved delicious hamburger dinner at Northside in Vail.
This was a memorable hiking/camping weekend: five unique confluences, by turns heavily forested, precipitous, snow-covered, meadowy, broad-horizoned, arid, steep, muddy, celestial, desolate, pristine. Some were easy to drive to but a true challenge to hike to, others just the opposite. All of them I had read and daydreamed about but of course none were as I had envisioned or expected – they were infinitely better after personally experiencing their isolation and wonder. We won’t quickly be forgetting this autumn weekend in Northwestern Colorado, and we are so appreciative of the Degree Confluence Project for getting us out here to explore this amazing land our state has to offer but few people stop to enjoy.