This was the 4th Confluence visit overall for Dennis Flynn. It was the first Confluence visit for Gary Whelan.
This trip was an amazing adventure !!!
Myself (Dennis Flynn) and Gary Whelan (both of Colliers, Newfoundland, Canada) traveled 308 kilometers by car on March 13, 2004 along the TransCanada Highway (Route 1) and a secondary road (Route 320) to reach Centreville, Newfoundland.
This was the starting point for our journey on foot.
Given the length of the drive we decided to scout out the best entry location and start early the next morning for the actual attempt at Confluence Point 49N and 54W.
A preliminary trip for a mile or so up Northwest (First) Pond revealed overall great ice conditions and snow relatively hard packed and up to 5 to 6 feet deep in areas. Some open water and thin ice where the river exited into Northwest Arm (and onto Trinity Bay in the Atlantic Ocean).
Stayed in Centreville that night. It should have been a fairly easy hike up the pond the next day, except a snap blizzard came up (wasn't forecast when we left :) and dumped 36 centimeters of fresh powder on us overnight, By 6:30 am the next morning the situation was starting to look better and the Weather Channels indicated the storm had blown out to sea.
Deciding to press on we embarked on snowshoes up Northwest (First) pond into a headwind that (combined with all the fresh powder) slowed our progress to a crawl at points. It took around 6 hours to reach the site on snowshoes traveling in from route 320. This was only a distance of about 4.07 miles as the crow flies...but the proverbial crow never had to carry his own gear over a zigzag terrain around a meandering river and up a thickly wooded ridgeline. In real terms the twists and turns meant we probably traveled more like 6 or 7 miles on the shoes since a straight line was not an option.
In any event we continued on till the end of Northwest (Second) pond and up through a thick grove of evergreens (some pine, but mostly spruce) until we reached a ridge line with a spectacular view of the area. In the distance we could make out a mountain that the locals call "Old Jingle", but I couldn't see it officially named anywhere on the maps. The ridge we stood on was anonymous as far as I know at this point, but I'm making inquiries into this as well. In any event, we were very, very happy to get to the top. Especially after pushing through all the tightly packed trees that mercilessly dumped snow on our heads as we shouldered through the heavily laden boughs.
The joy was short lived when it became apparent that the actual confluence site was DOWN the opposite side of the ridge. Curses. Many colorful adjectives used to describe the situation, which I will not elaborate on here for family viewing purposes :)
Another 10 minutes and we were there. The actual site is below a small white spruce tree next to...yeah you guessed it...another white spruce tree...and side by side with their good neighbors...a hundred other white spruce tress :)
Still after the long journey, the deep snow, the cold, the wind, the push up some 350 feet of wooded ridge...and partially down the far side of it...I have to say that the nicest little spruce trees I ever saw were located at 49N and 54W.
Truthfully this was the most demanding of the confluences I have visited so far because of the conditions and the fact it was done on foot. A trip on snow machine could have probably brought you to within less than a half mile of it in a fraction of the time.
Having said this, in the spirit of exploration, it was also one of the most enjoyable trips I have ever engaged in as well. It was challenging, but I loved it.
It's what Confluence Hunting should be all about...going where no one has gone before...and enjoying every step of the way. After all, it's as much about the journey as the destination.
From the peak we found a much more direct path back to the ponds via a trail that remote cabin owners in the area must have developed at some point (but didn't show up on our topographic maps). This, plus much more favorable weather on the retreat after the visit, cut about an hour and a half off the time it took to snow shoe back to the car.
Spectacular sunset as we headed down the pond...reward from the confluence gods for a good trip I guess :)
The only major complaint was that our two cameras died (including primary and both sets of spare batteries due to the cold and harsh conditions) so definitely not as many pictures as would have liked.