07-Oct-2003 -- What better way to spend a beautiful 28° Autumn day than to go confluence hunting! From Regina we drove southeast on Highway 48 then south on Highway 47 towards Corning. On a grid road west of the confluence we found a farm trail through a field that took us to a barbed wire fence with a closed gate. We parked the van near the closed gate and prepared for the 855 meter walk southwest to the confluence. Some of our walk was over cultivated soil, some over prairie grass, and some over stubble. Grasshoppers were still hopping about in the stubble. We passed several areas where there had obviously been sloughs (ponds) in the past but due to severe drought conditions in Saskatchewan during the last few years they have dried up. There are now prairie grasses and gopher (a small burrowing rodent) holes where once ducks swam on water. In all, we walked 2.34 km to, from, and around the confluence. It was easy to get the zeros on the GPS in this open field. The accuracy was 6 meters and the altitude 666 meters.
The hamlet of Corning is only 6.4 km by road from the confluence. Corning is a small community with a population of only 30. It didn't take us long to drive along every street. Some of the Corning Volunteer Fire Brigade were working on their fire truck in front of the fire hall. Along Main Street we photographed the CO-OP store, the lumber yard, the post office, the Lost Horse Cafe (which takes its name from the nearby Lost Horse Hills) and the office of the Rural Municipality of Golden West No. 95. This municipality covers a 47 sq. km. area and has a total population of 526. On side streets we saw occupied homes and a few that had been abandoned. Corning School has been closed. Drought conditions and low grain prices in recent years have taken their toll on rural Saskatchewan. One mad cow found in Alberta last May closed the world markets to Canadian beef thus compounding the financial strain on prairie farmers this year.
We took a round about way home in order to see this part of the province a little better. We enjoyed a scenic drive along a narrow gravel road that wound through beautiful Moose Mountain River Valley. South of this valley on Highway 711 we came to Moose Mountain Lake with a marshy area at the north end of the lake that seemed to be the home of many birds, ducks and geese. Both the river valley and the lake are within 10 km of the confluence. Further east is Gooseberry Lake. It was between these two lakes that four cows stood in the middle of the road looking at us. As we got closer they sauntered off into the ditch and turned to stare at us. Cows within the fenced field joined them to have a good look at us too. They posed nicely for a picture.
We joined Highway 33 at Osage and drove northwest into Regina arriving home about 6:00 pm. Our total trip took 7 hours and covered 335 km. It was a great way to pass a splendid Autumn day.