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the Degree Confluence Project
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United States : Colorado

6.6 miles (10.6 km) NW of Egnar, San Miguel, CO, USA
Approx. altitude: 2282 m (7486 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap topo aerial ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 38°S 71°E

Accuracy: 2 m (6 ft)
Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: View to the north from the confluence point. #3: View to the east from the confluence point. #4: View to the south from the confluence point. #5: View to the west from the confluence point. #6: GPS reading at the confluence point. #7: Joseph Kerski at the confluence point. #8: Sky view from the confluence point. #9: Ground cover at the confluence point--watch your footing!  Cacti abound. #10: Trail to the the area near the confluence point. #11: If you see a car in the middle of nowhere, it might be mine! #12: The view to the east from a location 250 m east of the confluence.

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  38°N 109°W (visit #7)  

#1: The site of 38 North 109 West, looking north, in the mid-distance before the dead trees.

(visited by Joseph Kerski)

13-Jun-2022 -- As I was in the area for the Indigenous Voices institute in Cortez, and to visit regional GIS professionals, and as the institute's focus was on storytelling, Native ways of knowing, land, and water, and as I was scheduled to conduct the mapping and geotechnologies segments of the institute with the 60 educators who were gathering, and as it had been years since I had journeyed to a new (for me) confluence in Colorado, a trek to 38 North 109 West seemed particularly appropriate. And so, on a very hot day with winds blowing wildfire smoke from adjacent states into the Colorado part of the Four Corners, I set out from Cortez to 38 North 109 West.

I drove northwest on US 491 up hilltops and down valleys. There was a fair amount of truck, recreational, and vehicle traffic. The winds and visibility worsened and at the town of Dove Creek I questioned whether trekking today would be wise. I bought some water though and donned some sunscreen, drove across the border into Utah, and north on the aptly-named Ucolo Road (being just west of the Utah-Colorado state line). The terrain was a mixture of hills and broad valleys, dotted with sandstone outcrops, pinon, and juniper, with some farmsteads here and there across the land. Again I admired those who could make a living out here on the landscape. The road was in decent paved shape; no center line existed or was needed. I only left pavement when I turned east along Radium 7 Road (an ominous name). Still, even here, the dirt had been sprinkled often with gravel, and I turned north on the Utah-Colorado border, and then east again into Colorado. Even so, I was glad it was not wet, or I would not have ventured forward. I had not encountered any other cars since I had turned off of US 491 a half hour before.

In truth, even though I have been exploring these latitude-longitude points for 20 years now, I really never know on these treks whether I will actually succeed: Would a barrier suddenly appear in the form of a ravine, or a gate, or something else? All of these reasons and more have thwarted me in the past. So, I only had hope on this visit when the distance to point was below 3 miles: Then I thought Yes, I could walk from the vehicle to the point and back, from this point if a barrier arose.

But no barrier arose! I drove north along the state line and then east into Colorado. There, after 5 minutes, I passed the sign indicating I was entering Bureau of Land Management public land. Good! The road as expected then bent to the southeast and became rockier. Slowing, I parked at the magnificent vista at Summit Point, took a few photos of the hazy but magnificent canyons and peaks to the east, gathered supplies, and set out.

I hiked south-southwest on a faint trail that lay close to the edge of the mesa, included in the set of pictures. After about 10 minutes, once I neared 38 North, I cut across the terrain. It was slow going, with high desert trees and shrubs all around. All the while, I stepped as carefully as I could, watching for snakes and cacti. One of the worst offending cacti were very small plants with marble-sized burrs that even stuck to my shoes; I admired their tenacity but they were difficult to shake off. I walked around dead branches near the point and thought the confluence would be in a massive pile of dead limbs. I skirted this pile to the east and then walked into the pile; it was then when I saw the rock cairn mentioned by my colleague and previous visitor. After a few minutes, I did zero out the GPS unit right over this cairn.

Despite that I was hot and windblown, I marveled at how comparatively easy this point is from where it could have been. It could easily have been far from a road, or even more difficult, just a few hundred meters to the east, which would require hours of scaling the canyon walls, or approaching from the east, if either was even possible. It was hot: About 95 degrees F (35 C) under sunny, but very smoky (due to a very serious wildfire in Flagstaff Arizona) and hazy, skies, and very windy conditions. It was late afternoon in late spring, one week until the summer solstice. I had stood on 38 North numerous times from the west coast of the USA (California) to the east coast (Virginia), and along 109 West three times before, in Montana and Colorado. This was my first confluence in Colorado for several years and I was glad to be here. It was especially nice for a geographer to be standing quite near the state line. When considering that the line was surveyed in the 1800s, and considering it was only a few miles to the west of here, one has to give respect to those surveying crews of 150 years ago for their accuracy without modern GPS equipment!

I stood on site for about 15 minutes. I saw no people or birds, nor animals of any kind; just a few ants on the cairn. I posted the video on my Our Earth channel, here . The GPS now read low battery and although I had spare batteries, I shut off the unit and set out to the northwest, relishing the challenge of orienteering without a device. In retrospect I should have walked a bit south first so I could see the clearing that my colleague had filmed with his UAV. I walked northwest along a faint rutted path until I reached a north-south, slightly less faint, path. I took that to the north and a few minutes later spotted someone camping with an RV, way out here. I had not noticed it on the way in, and a short time later, realized that it was because I was now on a different north-south trail than the one I had walked in on. I soon transferred to the original trail and after about a 45-minute round trip, rejoined my vehicle at the top of the ridge.

On the return trip, I filmed the segment of road that runs along the Utah-Colorado state line. This was a geographer's dream and I recalled my trek to a point last year where I filmed a road segment that ran along the Kansas-Oklahoma order. I made it back to Cortez in time to do some preparation for tomorrow's workshop. Get out and explore!


 All pictures
#1: The site of 38 North 109 West, looking north, in the mid-distance before the dead trees.
#2: View to the north from the confluence point.
#3: View to the east from the confluence point.
#4: View to the south from the confluence point.
#5: View to the west from the confluence point.
#6: GPS reading at the confluence point.
#7: Joseph Kerski at the confluence point.
#8: Sky view from the confluence point.
#9: Ground cover at the confluence point--watch your footing! Cacti abound.
#10: Trail to the the area near the confluence point.
#11: If you see a car in the middle of nowhere, it might be mine!
#12: The view to the east from a location 250 m east of the confluence.
ALL: All pictures on one page