07-Oct-2006 -- "Geography is where people meet place and where place meets people." The enigmatic architect of the above sentence was Prof' Doug Nicol of the University College of the Fraser Valley, in Abbotsford, B.C.
As students, we nick-named Doug "Mr. Culture" because he was an extraordinarily intuitive, considerate, curious, and thorough investigator of all things human. Doug constantly challenged us to consider our place in the world and he also challenged us with his wordy, seemingly incoherent lectures. But the true craft of teaching, I have come to appreciate, is to leave your students a little puzzled at the end of each class so that they go out and try to answer questions on their own; instilling curiosity personifies effective teaching.
10 years later, Doug’s "Geography is..." expression finally made sense to me after I visited the Confluence Project web-site (and there are still a lot of his expressions that I don’t understand). I tried e-mailing Doug to tell him the big news, only to discover that he departed this world two months prior in order to help Carl Sauer and W.G. Hoskins map the, as yet, undiscovered outer reaches of Heaven. Retire someday, Doug.
So, on October 07, 2006, Brad and Lori and I set out to answer the question of what this world looks like at 55°N and 127°W.
Photo #4 depicts the 'wall' of bush we walked into. After trudging face down for an hour, we came upon a rough animal track that led in the direction our GPS arrow pointed to. An hour more of this and we emerged into an open, alpine meadow that stretched several kilometers in every direction (see photo #3). But it was squishy. Within minutes, we had wet feet. After an hour of this, we were back in the bush; virtually no sunlight, no visual reference, no trails, footpaths, or anything recognizable for another hour. Just green moss and lots of deadfall to climb over.
It was just below 0° degrees Celsius in the constant shade of the alpine, boreal forest, and we were at 4,000 feet above sea level when 'Maggie' (our Magellan 100 Xp GPS unit) signaled that we were within 75 meters of the site. Moments later, we had "all zeros" on the screen (see photo #2). We hastily ascertained that no-one had been there before, took the requisite photo, wolfed down some food, and sprinted for the daylight of the meadow. None of us had ever walked blindly into the bush before, relying only on a GPS unit. In fact, none of us had ever used a GPS unit, and while Magellan makes a fine product, we were quite reassured to get out of 'the tunnel' and back out into the open.
Three hours of marsh, brush, bush, and a creek-bed lined with ice covered rocks, and we were back at the truck, tired, sore, and hungry, but satisfied that we had answered another one of the world’s many questions.
Coordinator's Note: This visit is "incomplete" because it does not meet our Photo Requirements.