21-Jun-2001 -- The confluence of 53N 116W is located in west central Alberta. Leaving my home in Hinton I followed Hwy. 40 the Bighorn Highway south to Cadomin. The pavement ended just north of Cadomin after which I continued on gravel east across to Robb and then south to the junction with the Elk River road. Clouds of billowing dust from oncoming traffic obscured visibility frequently as roads in this area are heavily used by logging and oil field traffic.
The confluence was shown on the map as being within a kilometre of the Elk River road. As my GPS 12 counted down to less than a kilometre I slowed looking for a place to pull of the road. As I passed a turnoff into a drill site the readout began to climb again. Turning around 500 metres further on I came back to the well site turnoff and followed the rough access road north. The distance to the confluence was only .66 km when I parked at 10:10 AM after a drive of 175 km. The oil well was capped and the site vacant except for the valves at the well head.
Leaving the well site on foot it was an easy walk through an open stand of pine for the first couple hundred of metres. After crossing a 30 metre wide pipeline right-of-way my path led into a muskeg sphagnum bog. Numerous pools of standing water in amongst the grasses, sedges and moss soon had my boots soaked and a few hundred metres further on a fast flowing creek cut through the muskeg. I was able jump cross at a narrow section of the creek and continued north through the Black Spruce and Tamarack Larch trees typical of the poorly drained bogs. After crossing another cutline I reached the confluence a short time later.
The confluence itself was situated on a cutline running east/west along the 53 rd parallel ( a coincidence?). The cutline was probably part of a seismic line used for oil exploration. In muskegs these are usually constructed during the winter on frozen ground and are impassable during the remainder of the year except on All Terrain Vehicles. There is surprisingly little disturbance in winter operations and the ground cover rapidly recovers.
The EPE(estimated postion error) was about five meters and the GPS showed an elevation of 1075 metres at the confluence. The mosquitos were thick and as I had left my repellent back at the car, I quickly took the required pictures and started back. Following a different route back I was able to cross the creek on a fallen tree and was back to my car only 25 minutes after setting out.
I left the well site and continued east to the Brazeau Reservoir dam to have lunch and dry out my socks and boots. Afterwards I planned to head north to visit another confluence.