28-Aug-2003 -- Our trip to the confluence began mid afternoon 27 Aug 03 departing from Drayton Valley. Armed with a 1:50 000 map of the region, a Magellan GPS, and Mr. O’Toole’s previous description of the site approach, we made our way up highway 32 towards Whitecourt in an attempt to validate our combined military, commercial, and recreational navigation experience.
Our original plan was to find the gate Mr. O’Toole described in his Aug 2001 attempt and, if unlocked, carry on down the road towards the confluence. Should we find the gate still locked, we planned on hiking 7 km West along a pipeline that intersected highway 32 and passed within 200m of the confluence. We found the gate Mr. O’Toole referred to a short drive West along the Groat Creek road. Fortunately, it was unlocked and the road was well traveled (Fish & Wildlife have installed a new gate approximately 10km further down the route).
Following the GPS, we slowly crept our way down the road in an attempt to add some drama to what was developing into a relatively anticlimactic conquest. However, this being our first confluence visit, we were not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. Sure enough, approximately 8.7 km down the road we passed within 40m of the confluence. Slightly disappointed at the challenge presented in attaining the confluence, we decided to return the following day and make one final push to our objective.
We spent the night at a beautiful access point to the McLeod River and returned the following day with our gear in hand. After 10 minutes of doing the “GPS Waltz” through the woods, gaze fixed directly on my Magellan screen, I finally succeeded in pinpointing the location and the result is our first of many contributions to the Degree Confluence Project.
The site itself is a small, long-grass clearing amongst relatively immature trees and appears to be prone to swampy sinkholes during the wetter months. Oil and gas development as well as logging operations are prominent throughout the region and this confluence may very well be subject to the changing forces of commercial development.
**A Special note for Dr. E.L. Jackson who mentioned the Degree Confluence Project in his Human Geography class at the University of Alberta and sparked my interest. Thanks Ed!**