13-Sep-2002 -- This confluence is the last to be visited in my home province of New Brunswick. In fact, I think it is the last "dry-land" confluence in the Maritime Provinces. When I first began looking at this confluence I thought it must be quite difficult to reach and perhaps that was why it was the last unvisited confluence in New Brunswick. As it turned out it was not very hard to reach at all.
When I mentioned the Degree Confluence project to my co-worker, Jeff Stymiest, he was very interested. We both work with GIS all day long and we are both very interested in GPS and the outdoors. We chose September 13th as the date and the planning began immediately. We have access to digital topo mapping and digital property mapping through our office. We quickly determined that the confluence fell on Crown land. It was even very close to the corner of four crown land parcels. I contacted the Crown Lands office to see if the boundaries in this area had been surveyed recently. Unfortunately, the boundaries were un-surveyed because the Crown was the land owner on both sides of the boundary line.
We studied all of the maps and chose the roads we would use to approach the confluence. The confluence is in a fairly remote portion of the forest in central New Brunswick. We knew we would have to use logging roads but we had no information on the condition of the logging roads in the area. We selected a few dozen waypoints along our route and uploaded them into our GPS. We used CARIS GIS and ExpertGPS to create the waypoints and a Garmin GPS 12 XL receiver.
We departed around 11 AM on September 13th. We were a little concerned about the weather. It rained for about 120 km of the 150 km drive. It did not matter much that the rain had stopped because we both got soaked walking through the wet vegetation. Neither of us had travelled the roads near the confluence before. The waypoints that I created with the GIS in the office came in handy and we didn't make a single wrong turn. We left the last paved road about 15 km from the confluence (photo #2). The logging roads we travelled were in excellent condition. The maps we studied earlier showed that we should be able to come within 800 metres of the confluence before leaving the truck. We pre-marked this location with a waypoint. As we approached this waypoint we saw a new (unmapped) road that could bring us closer to the confluence (photo #3). This road was a dead-end but it brought us within 230 metres of the confluence!
We left the truck, recorded a waypoint, tightened our boot-laces, and headed into the bush. Almost immediately we walked into a thicket of alder trees. It was tough going as there were also many fallen trees that we had to go around or climb over. The tree canopy and the underbrush made it hard to navigate a straight line (photo #4). I was a little concerned because it almost appeared that we were walking in circles. The bearing arrow on the GPS flipped-flopped on us a few times. (I can really see the benefit of having an electronic compass built in to the GPS. I am going to buy one of those some day.) After walking in and out of several thickets we came into some forest with almost zero undergrowth and we were only 80 metres from the confluence! From here the GPS lead us straight to the confluence! We stopped to take a few photos and left behind a GeoCache (www.geocaching.com, waypoint GC8EDA). On the way back to the truck Jeff carried the GPS and we managed to avoid some of the thickets.
To sum things up the round trip took about 5 hours and 300 km. We spent about 40 minutes on foot in the forest. When we got back to the office we downloaded our GPS track log and plotted the points in the GIS (photo #4). We both had a good laugh when we saw the twisted path we walked through the bush.
Overall it was a good experience and a very enjoyable day.