Friday, May 30, 2008

Confluence Point Hunting

New Stuff from the Explorer School (Robert Twigger)

Getting to the Point

“It’s over there,” said Dave, “Somewhere.” I scanned the desert horizon. It was midday and the Egyptian landscape was flattened by the overhead sun. In a few minutes, maybe ten, we would be the first people ever to be at that specific point on the earth’s crust. 28N 31E to be precise. 28 00 00 N 31 00 00E to be very precise. There would be no distracting minutes and seconds, just the pure integers of latitude and longitude. The going got tougher, the desert surface gravelly and now stretching uphill. We were climbing up the humpy left side of a wadi, or dry riverbed. There was no vegetation visible anywhere in a 360 degree circle- I scanned hard but saw nothing except low dun grey hills and dry valleys. The only sight that drew the eye was a rock breaking the skyline. We had parked the 4×4 some way back and now I was out of breath, what with the heat and going uphill. Dave strode on manfully, pulling ahead. It was then I suspected, that like Hillary and Tenzing, only one of us would get to that sacred spot first. We both had GPS machines that checked our position but Dave’s was bigger, more authoritative. Plus he had a longer stride than me. It looked like I was about to assume the Tenzing position.

We were only climbing a small hill not a mountain and we weren’t interested at all in the summit. What drew us on was the promise of bagging a confluence point. A confluence point is where a degree line of latitude and longitude meet like 50N 25W or where a whole lot of lines meet like the North or South poles. It has to be a whole number and on land or within sight of land. There are 14,029 out there. There are 11,396 still waiting to be bagged. And Dave and I were after 28N 31E , somewhere in the Egyptian desert between the Nile and the Red Sea.

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