06-Dec-2003 -- We’d been planning a confluence visit for a few weeks, and it was just a matter of finding a good weekend to go. Of course, we wanted to do one that hadn’t been completed yet and obviously, these may be the hardest to get to. We chose N51 W96 as it had roads getting close to it, but it was still a difficult walk to get there. I had jokingly remarked that we should be expecting a parade after we reach the confluence, and all the glory and pride that comes with it. We may not have reached it at all but for some satellite photos we found the day before the trip.
As with every successful male-bonding road trip, we made up some nicknames. So off we went, Stratego, Shanghai (the virgin bush tracker), Doc Hotcakes and Lugnutz (respectively, as per the "visited by"). According to our many maps, we should have turned off onto a side road at 16km from the confluence, which should have brought us within 3-8 km of the confluence, the rest being a walk through dense forest. We found the “road” (I use the term very loosely) and it was immediately apparent that no car or truck had been on it for a very long time. Was this the show-stopper we had feared? No!
Let’s check the satellite photos. Ok, look at this…these look like trails of some sort…let’s check it out. So we drive north looking for a trail similar to what we see on the satellite photos. Hmmm, this is interesting…lots of pick-up trucks, lots of folks wearing bright orange…Looks like hunting confluences isn’t the only activity in the area. None-the-less, we think we find the trail and park the car.
Time: 10:30 AM
Distance to confluence: 9 kilometers(5.6 miles)
We gear up and start down the path. 1.5km down the path it stops dead. Ok, let’s pull out the satellite photo and have another look. Uh-oh…we might be on the wrong one.
Option 1) Double pack and drive to the next path?
Option 2) Cut through the forest, hope we cross the right path, and continue to the confluence.
We only wanted (NEEDED) the right path to get back to the car, as we didn’t want to walk through the whole forest again.
We select Option 2, 7.3km to the confluence…we have a lot of work to do today. The kilometers pass slowly but steadily. After 4km we cross the correct path. A huge sigh of relief as we now know we can follow the path back to the car, and not 4km through the bush. Yet, another 3.3km of bush have to be traveled there and back to get to the confluence.
We continue marching through the forest, this last 3km is the worst,
lots of fallen trees, some
frozen marshland, ... what’s that sound ... open water? Time for a river crossing. We move a “safe” distance from where the water is running over the rapids and
cross on the ice. The last 2km are slow and Doc Hotcakes gets more than one branch in the face (which upsets him greatly, but it is funny to watch) but we finally
arrive at the confluence for some pictures.
A quick sit-down and we realize it’s getting dark. It is now 3:30pm. We have to hit the path for the car before dark or there will be many more branches in the face for everyone. We march the 3.3km for the path, only losing our tracks a few times. By the time we get to the path it is virtually night. It is 5pm. We’re tired, hungry, out of water (Except for Doc Hotcakes’ frozen Camelback). Did I mention we’re tired? How about sore?
We follow the path for 2 hours and finally arrive at the car. We stock up on liquids and snacks at a gas station and relax in the quiet car ride home. We’re almost home and I notice some activity behind the car…then lights! Glorious Flashing lights! Is this the parade?! How do they know already?! No, this is Winnipeg’s Finest, ensuring our safety during the Christmas season.
Cop: license and registration please
Me: here’s the license, my wallet’s in my jacket in the back. (I go get it)
Cop notices our dirty clothes and backpacks in the truck.
Cop: You guys hiking today? Survivalists or something?
Not wanting to start a long conversation
Me: Something like that.
Cop: Anything to drink tonight?
Me: Nope, we’re just getting back
Cop: ok, have a nice night.
400km(248mi) of driving
8.5 hours of hiking
24.3 hiked kilometers(15 miles)
1 confluence visited
And we’re still waiting for the parade.