09-Aug-2001 -- After having completed a successful visit to
N50° W107° we headed west towards our second goal of the day. Our route took us west from Hodgeville to Highway 4 then north to Swift Current and continuing along a route we had been on before when we visited
N51° W108° back in July. The maps I had prepared using the Garmin MapSource program indicated that this confluence point was situated just off Highway 4 and by the looks of it, possibly on the shore of a lake.
Our closest approach by car brought us to within 508 m of the confluence. We parked our van in the ditch beside the highway and knew this one was going to be interesting as soon as we opened the van door. We were swarmed by mosquitoes! Having learned my lesson doing
N50° W102° I took the precaution of applying generous amounts of mosquito spray before we headed out across what could best be described as prairie grassland and dried up marshland. The field had obviously been used as a pasture somewhere along the way because the ground was pockmarked with deep indentations made by the cattle as they walked along and it was obvious that at sometime this area had been quite wet and muddy. Our walk brought us to the roadbed that was the old highway and then passing through our second barbed wire fence we began our final approach. The "lake" shown on our map was getting closer and we both began to think our point was going to be unattainable. As luck would have it we managed to zero in on the spot about 50 meters from the edge.
We took the required photos and then decided it was necessary to investigate this "lake". We are quite used to seeing what are generally referred to around Saskatchewan as alkaline lakes but this was the first time we had been quite this close to one. Picking our footing very carefully we made our way to the edge of the "lake" and it became apparent that although it looked like there was water, in actual fact most of it was dried up. I took a clump of dirt and threw it out into the "water" to see if it would splash. It landed with a bit of a thud and rather than splashing simply made a small crater in the mud. We noticed one section a metre or two out from the shore that was just crawling with bugs of some kind. It was quite the "lake" and although there was little water in it, it did seem to manage to support its own little ecosystem.
We took a slightly different route back to the van having been not all that impressed with the path we'd used to get there. This one took us through an area of prairie grass, golden rod and wild roses. The only "wildlife" we saw were butterflies, bugs, mosquitoes (and there were LOTS of them!) and two hawks soaring on the winds above us.
When we got back to the van we decided that in a normal year, this confluence would probably not have been reached quite as easily as we had found it. We heard on the radio later that this is the driest year on record and the fifth dry year in a row. This obviously made our search easier because had it been a wet year I am sure this spot would have been under water.
So, two down, both successful. On to the third one for the day,
N52° W109°. I wonder what we will find there? Our route out took us through the town of Biggar where we photographed their famous town sign.