09-Sep-2005 -- I started out this morning about 100 km to the southeast of 50N 87W where I camped next to a lake. I packed up my truck and headed from the Caramat Industrial Road toward Trans Canada Highway 11. As I was driving on the Caramat Industrial Road—a gravel road made for hauling cut timber that runs from Manitouwadge to Highway 11—I saw a moose crossing the road in front of my truck. It was a large bull moose that ran into the woods too quickly for me to get a picture. I turned west onto Highway 11 and headed toward the town of Geraldton. At the intersection of Highway 11 and the Caramat Industrial Road, the forest had been ravaged by a large fire at one time. For many kilometers, charred sticks that were once living trees pointed skyward. The forest was starting to slowly grow back, as it was full of new low-lying green saplings. I found out later in the day that this would be a common sight in the confluence area.
The confluence point 50N 87W is about 40 km north of the town Geraldton. This town of about 2000-3000 people was once a center of gold mining activity. Between the 1930s and the 1970s, Geraldton had ten gold mines. I turned north onto Highway 584 and drove through Geraldton. After leaving Geraldton, I had to refer to satellite photos with my coordinate markings on them. The gravel roads created for hauling cut timber logs in this area sometimes don't have names, and I didn't have access to that type of information anyway, so I had to find the coordinates for the series of turns I had to make while preparing for my trip. My coordinates turned out to be quite accurate. There was only one turn where I made a slight mistake. This road appeared on the satellite photo to go toward the confluence point. I soon found out that this was a dead end that was about 7 km from the point. It would have been too long of a hike in this type of terrain, and I also knew that there were other roads that came closer to 50N 87W. I drove back to the gravel road where I made my erroneous turn and turned northwest for a few kilometers until I found a road in good condition that was going directly toward the point. This road meandered through wide open areas of clear-cut forest. In some areas, I could look for many kilometers across terrain where trees were harvested and hauled out of the forest. This was no longer an active timber-cutting area as almost all of the commercially valuable trees were gone.
I drove along this road to try to find the shortest distance to the confluence point. I found that I was getting further away from the point, so I drove back to a turn-off which was a little more than 2 km away. The road at the turn-off was abandoned long ago, because as I started driving, it quickly became impossible to continue on in the truck. On the satellite photo, this looks like a navigable road, but in reality, it was overgrown and in some places it even had young trees growing in the middle of it.
I stopped the truck on this former road and found that I was 2.24 km away from the confluence. I strapped on my backpack and got my GPS and my machete then started hiking through the thicket on the former road. I quickly found a moose trail and followed it through meadow and 2-3m high young trees. On the moose trail, I saw moose tracks of course, and I also saw wolf tracks as if a pack of wolves was following the moose. I walked along the moose trail for a little over 1 km until the GPS started pointing to the southeast. I then left the trail and headed toward a large former forest fire area. This is where my hike became much more challenging.
As I hiked through this burned-out area, there was a maze of fallen trees underfoot with a thick, spongy moss growing on them. It covered the entire area all the way to the confluence point, as I later found out. Under the fallen moss-covered timbers, the ground was marshy but not too moist. I selected this time of year to try this confluence because there is normally not much rain in this area in September. It would have likely been impossible to hike this same area in spring or early summer because of the rain-soaked terrain and the abundance of mosquitos and blackflies.
I started approaching a forest grove of evergreen trees. The terrain here was equally challenging as I walked over the same moss-covered fallen timbers. I came to another burned out area and my GPS pointed toward a large thicket of young birch trees. I walked into the thicket and it was very dense. My machete came in handy at this point as I hacked through the very dense stand of young trees. The same moss-covered fallen timbers were still underfoot, so I had to watch the ground as well as the dense tangle of branches in front of me. After finally getting past this mess of young trees, I was quite glad to see another burned out clearing of the forest. The confluence point was very close now. I walked across the burned clearing and found the point just slightly back into the thicket of birch. I got pictures of my GPS as well as the point and the four cardinal directions. As you can see in the pictures of the cardinal directions, the confluence point was almost surrounded by the thicket of young trees except for a slight view of the forest fire area to the east.
I sat on a log near the confluence point for about a half hour to rest for my hike back. I started from my truck at 11:00 this morning and it took me two hours to get here. The challenge of hiking amongst the fallen timbers in an area where there are little or no trails made the journey a long one. As I sat near the confluence for a rest, I heard something large sloshing around in the water of the nearby lake. I wasn't able to see this lake from where I was sitting because of the forest beyond the clearing, but I'm guessing that I heard the sound of a moose wading through the shallow water of the lake grazing for food. I also heard some loons calling from further along on the lake.
It was time to head back to the truck. This time, I tried to avoid the dense thicket of young trees. I hiked toward the stand of living evergreens and then navigated through this forest. It took a while for me to get back to the clearing with the moose trail as I was much more fatigued than I was on the way to the point. I continued on slowly until I found the moose trail again. As I walked along the trail my boots felt quite heavy. The GPS pointed to the waypoint for my truck straight ahead... 1.2 km, 800m, 550m... Finally I came up over a small hill and saw my truck gleaming in the sunlight in the distance. I wanted to stop and take a break, but I wanted more to get to the truck as I had run out of water earlier in my hike.
I finally got to the truck at about 16:00 (4:00 pm)--about 5 hours after I started my hike. I was hungry as I didn't have any of my emergency rations during the trip. While I drove back toward Geraldton, all I could think about was food! My first stop back in town was a restaurant where I had a large plate of spaghetti. After my meal, I checked into a motel room where I cleaned up and relaxed. I slept very well that night, as I was content that my visit to 50N 87W was a success!