18-Sep-2022 -- As I was in the state of Oklahoma to give the keynote address at the SCAUG regional GIS conference, and as the week would also include workshops and presentations at two universities with a focus on geotechnologies, I thought that a confluence visit would be the perfect way to start the week. And so, on a very bright, hot, windy day during the last few days before the autumnal equinox, I was already prepared for my keynote and workshops. Thus, I aimed for the closest confluence point that I had not yet visited that was also as close to Oklahoma City as possible, that of 35 North 99 West. I had long wanted to visit this point, because (1) I was curious what the lake looked like that surrounds the point on the satellite imagery, and (2) it seemed amazing that this point had not been visited since 2001--over 20 years ago.
Thus, after flying into the OKC airport, I was by mid-morning making good progress toward this point, visiting some wonderful countryside along the way and several towns, though the population in southwestern Oklahoma is not large. My GPS directions had me overshooting the point, but that actually turned out to be a good thing, as I had no water with me, and so I stopped in Hobart for some. Then I backtracked to the east, and then south on a section line road that began with a bisect of a small number of pens of cattle. I parked on the northeast corner of a cotton field and began the trek down a faint trail which was on a section line, heading due east. All the while I watched for snakes and also wondered: Would I be able to get within 100 meters of the point without a boat?
On these 25 years of confluence treks, I group them in 3 categories--those that are about as difficult as I expected them to be in the planning beforehand, those that ended up being more difficult, and those that are less difficult. This point ended up being less difficult than I anticipated. Why? Because as soon as I crested the small rise in the elevation on the track I was hiking on, I could see that the terrain ahead of me, instead of being a filled reservoir, was actually bone dry. I entered the dry bed of the reservoir without much difficulty, navigating around some tall plants, and the reservoir bed was powdery with some cracks. I headed southeast and was soon at the point.
I had a clear view of the GPS constellation. The temperature was about 95 degrees - hot, just before noon on a Sunday. As the Oklahoma song says, the winds were literally sweeping down the plains, and I had to hold the sign in my teeth to see it in the photograph. It was amazing that this point had not been visited in over 20 years, but it was admittedly away from any major highways. It was a great, lonely spot; I saw no people and no birds or animals. A few plants soon to be tumbleweeds had managed to grow in the reservoir bed. I thought about the Comanches and other Native Americans who have traversed this land, and the settlers who gave up and those who stayed.
I have stood on 35 north numerous times over 25 years, from California on the west to North Carolina on the east, and on 99 West from North Dakota on the north to Texas on the south. I have a nice collection of Oklahoma confluence points on every line of latitude from 34 to 37 north in the state. In fact, I have visited the point due east of this one, due south of this one (in Texas), and due north of this point. This was my first Oklahoma confluence since probably 2017 and I was glad to be back. After taking photos, I filmed a video and it is located on my Our Earth channel. After 10 minutes on site, maybe 15, I hiked out the way I came in, all the while pondering, Should I now aim for 35 North 100 West?