26-Dec-2001 -- This is my second confluence in the Quesnel area - the first was 123W 53N, which I visited with my parents this summer. I was visiting again over christmas, and asked my brother if he wanted to go a bit further afield for the next one.
Tyler is working as a Beetle Prober - he marks straight lines through the forest, so that technicians can survey the extent of bark beetle infestation in the area. Bark beetle is a nasty pest that gets under the bark and eventually kills trees. The forest companies want to harvest the wood before it is destroyed by the beetles.
Tyler's job consists of walking through the bush with a compass and GPS - a perfect companion for a confluence hunting trip!
I did my research beforehand, and knew which roads to go on and what the terrain looked like. I didnt know what would be plowed, so we took a snowmobile along.
On Boxing Day, I borrowed my dad's pickup and snowmobile. We went to Tim Hortons for breakfast and ordered 2 Everything Bagels. They said they only had one - I'm wondering if it might have been left over from Christmas eve, as they were closed christmas day. The bagel was good anyways.
We drove out the 86km or so to Nazko, and took a left just past the school onto the 3900 Road. There is a fair bit of forestry activity in the area, so the main logging roads are all plowed. The 4000 Road branches off the 3900. We followed the 4000 rd for about 23 KM until we reached the 5700 Rd. This road is not plowed, and was difficult to see, except that we knew it was right before the bridge over the Coglistiko River. We parked the truck at the turnoff to the 5400 road a few hundred meters away, and hopped on the snowmobile.
The snowmobile performed beautifully in the perfect conditions. There has been about 1-1/2 feet of untouched snow in the area, which provides a nice blanket to ride on, without the danger of getting stuck. Along the way, we startled a pair of moose - probably a cow and calf. I snapped a few pictures, but we were too far away to get a good one.
I had a very low-res satellite image of the area, which showed that 124W longitude was in the middle of the second clearcut area. From the edge of the clearcut, we expected about a 1.5km slog through the bush. When we got close, I pulled out the GPS, and Tyler drove. As we approached the longitude line, a road magically appeared right where we wanted it. There was a freshly cleared road, which hadn't been on any maps, heading south of the clearcut. We followed this road for about a kilometer until it veered off to the East, and prepared for a greatly reduced walk (500m) through the woods.
We walked a few meters into the forest and came across some flagging on the trees. My brother explained all the flagging and labelling - this was a Timber Cruise Strip Line. This area was marked off for logging in 1996 or so according to the tag, and by the looks of the new road coming in, will likely be logged next year. We followed the strip line due south, until it came to a swampy area. There were orange ribbons indicating a Special Management Zone (near the swamp), and blazes indicating the end of the cut block (so the machine operators know when to stop).
The confluence was due southwest from here, so we headed across the swamp and up the hill on the other side. Tyler led the way, as he is now very adept at walking perfect straight lines with a compass. There was about a foot of snow in the forest, and a fair bit of windfall, but the going was easy. Most of this part of the route looks a lot like the confluence point pictures. We got to the confluence point at almost exactly noon and tried to zero in on the exact point. We got within 3m on the display with a 9m accuracy, but couldn't do any better, even after doing the confluence dance for 5 minutes. The cold was getting to the GPS, and the satellite reception wasn't great anyways. It occurred to me about then that I should have brought something to mark the confluence. I didn't, so I carved the coordinates and the date in a tree. I left my knife with the snowmobile, so I carved with my metal watch band - it was a bit primitive.
We sauntered back to the snowmobile and had our lunch - leftover turkey sandwiches and Christmas baking - mmm good!
Tyler found a beetle-infested tree and tried to show me what a beetle looks like, but the tree we tried appears to have successfully fought off the insect invaders. The tree floods the beetle's burrows with sap, effectively spitting them out!
We zipped back out on the snowmobile, startling two ptarmigan in the same area the moose were. Tyler saw them land, but we couldnt spot them afterwards, as they are snow white in the winter. We zoomed around in the snowmobile and scared them again to get a better look.
Quite a successful confluence visit - This may be the first visit by snowmobile! Depending on the extent of logging, this point may look very different in a year or two...