10-Sep-2005 -- Success at last!
I received a Garmin GPS for a Christmas present in 2003. While searching the net for information on how better to use it, I stumbled upon the Degree Confluence project. While reading the information and reports of visits, my interest grew.
I noticed that a lot of the confluences nearby where I live had been visited and 55N 115W had not. It was surrounded by visited sites and did not appear to be too inaccessible. My interest was continuing to grow.
A group of us made an attempt to visit the site during the summer of 2004 but with out proper maps we found it difficult to find our way through the area, which is covered with fairly dense bush, and areas of muskeg or slough. In general we needed to follow cut lines thru the bush, cut lines being pathways cut through the trees making the bush land open and available for fire fighting, forestry and oil & gas exploration etc. The confluence point ended up being approximately 25 kilometers from the nearest highway meaning a lot of mud, muskeg and forest needed to be journeyed through and over. After several hours on our ATV’s we gave up as the cut lines seemed to fade away to overgrowth and no available access could be found.
We made a second attempt during the fall of 2004. The ground was frozen allowing us to cover the areas of muskeg and sloughs much more easily. We attempted to approach the confluence from the south after having obtained better maps of the area. It appeared as if the series of cut lines should take us much nearer then we had been previously. Unfortunately we had to leave our vehicle and start off on our ATV’s approximately 60 kilometers away from the point. We got to an area of burnt downfall timber late in the afternoon, still more then a few kilometers from the point. The fuel gauges were starting to read low, dusk was approaching and so we made the desicion to turn around and try again another day.
The third attempt was made Sept 3,2005. Armed with yet more maps, extra gas, a chain saw and more determination we headed off again, this time attacking from the point from the west. We ended up wasting a lot of valuable time traveling cut lines that eventually vanished into over growth only to backtrack and attempt to approach from another line. Once again a shortage of gas and daylight made us turn back, cold, wet and even more hungry for success. This time we had traveled approximately 18 kilometers and had come to about 7 kilometers of the point. I was beginning to understand more clearly why this confluence point had not yet been visited.
The forth and successful trip was made on Sept 10, 2005. With an earlier start in the day, extra gas, even more maps, away we went. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side. We drove north of Swan Hills in the rain and fog. We parked the trucks and loaded up our ATV’s for the trip, debating whether to go on. Since the weather forecast called for partly cloudy conditions we (I, sorry Erin) decided to carry on. Five hours and 25 kilometers of mud, muskeg, searching for cut lines and / or trails, getting lost, getting stuck, debating. Finally at about 4:30 p.m. we broke through the last bit of bush into a logged out block. The confluence point was in an area that appeared to have been burnt and logged sometime in the past 5 - 10?? years, judging by the regrowth. Somebody had been here before, perhaps not knowing the area held a confluence point. We found the point approximately 100 meters into the block, took the required pictures, felt the thrill of accomplishment, had something to eat and returned down the same trail we had arrived on, returning to our vehicles, cold, tired and yet satisfied with the completed mission.
Thank you’s are required to a few people…Mike, the chainsaw. Erin, your patience with my obsession. Chris, Brent, Ivan, Richard, the pushing, pulling and winching. Naomi, Kayla, Ethan, the good spirits and humour. Thank you all, I couldn’t have done it without you.