21-May-2017 -- As I had been teaching workshops and giving presentations focused on geospatial technologies, and working with faculty and graduate students at the University of Moncton, and as this point had not been visited in many years, and as this was my first time in Canada in 8 years, the aim of visiting this point en route to the airport on my way out of the area seemed like a noble goal. Would I be successful? The point was not too far from the nearest road, but according to the satellite images, and the previous visitors' accounts, I knew it would not be easy: Full of water, trees, undergrowth, and possibly, bugs, maybe a bear. Would I be successful? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I said to myself.
Hence, after rising at 4:30 am so as not to miss the tidal bore at Moncton, and after witnessing it in all of its magnificence - (video here), set out to the west. I drove across the river, and then west along Highway 112 through lovely villages and farms, with many dandelions and other flowers here in springtime. Once nearly to Salisbury, I drove south-southeast along Grub Road. My plan was to park at the clear-cut for the powerline and then trek east-southeast to the point, avoiding the backyards of the small housing development to the east of the point. The solitary thing that gave me hope was that on the satellite image I spied a very faint but straight line running from the clear-cut to the southeast, and then an even fainter but still straight line at a right angle to the northeast. From the end of the second line, it should be only a half mile final push to the point. But what were those lines? I was hoping they were snowmobile trails blazed into the forest.
When I arrived at my desired parking spot next to an electrical substation along the power line clear cut, my heart sank: Most of the ground for the power line clear cut was under water. It was very wide; at least 400 meters wide, maybe 500, but I walked along Grub Road for a while, hoping that the edge of the clear cut near the forest edge would be drier. No such luck, and I could not even jump from the road onto any dry ground--the wide drainage channel was too wide to leap. Thus, I walked back to the vehicle and from there, did my best to pick my way through the mud and water to the northeast. Where it wasn't underwater, it was like walking on marshmallows, very spongy with brambles and other plants that had been crushed to make way for the clear cut. Needless to say, I made very slow progress, but the day was clear and magnificent; about 65 degrees F. After just a few meters, I gave up trying to keep my feet dry--it was a lost cause. Fortunately I had brought some non-work shoes on this trip, hoping for just this opportunity. After awhile I spied what I had been wondering about: The straight line leading into the trees. The good news: It was indeed a trail. It even had a sign posted. The bad news: It, too, was underwater.
Undaunted, I plunged into the forest along this trail. The clear cut for the trail was about 2 meters across, and in truth, only about 3/4 of it total length that I traversed was under water. But that was enough. I skirted its edge along the wettest parts as much as I could, walking into the trees, which were also growing out of a wetland for the most part. I took waypoints in case I lost my way, and continued to make slow progress. My phone had little to no signal the whole way. Here is one trek where a GPS is important. After what seemed like a long time, the trail rose a bit in elevation and dried out just a bit, and I realized that I had reached the other line I had noted on the satellite image. It, too, was a trail, which was more good news, and I took it to the northeast, where it gradually descended into a very muddy and boggy course, but heading at least partly in my desired direction. When it abruptly ended, I took another waypoint and then plunged cross-country in the direction of the confluence. The GPS "Go To" point was fluctuating wildly, so my strategy, which worked, was to head toward the sun--east. It was very difficult threading through the trees; there were numerous stumps and tripping hazards, and vines. I fortunately wore sunglasses but endured some face-scratching brambles, but still enjoyed the journey. I kept my coat on to absorb the worst of it but the temperature was warm enough not to need it. I am sure I was the only person out here wearing a tie. But it was one of my geography ties, after all!
After 10 very difficult minutes, the land rose slightly and I walked through some younger trees to the edge of a partial meadow. As expected, it was very difficult to zero out the GPS unit. I doubled back on my track several times and was just about to "call it good"; i.e. within 100 meters, when I came upon another area of young trees and a clearer sky view, and managed to zero out the unit. In fact, I was there 15 minutes longer, and the GPS unit largely settled down and read 46.0, 65.0 for the entire time I was there. It was unexpected and magnificent.
It was a clear and breezy spring morning; temperature about 64 F (18 C). I saw no animals on my trek; only a few birds soaring above the powerline clear cut. Even though I am a geographer, I was actually glad I didn't encounter any large mammals out here. I was also thankful that unlike the previous visitor, who visited later in the growing season, way back in 2001, I did not encounter any flies or mosquitoes to speak of. I know I was not too far from the houses to the east but it felt at this point that I was days of hiking from the nearest settlement; this is a beautiful spot. This was only my second confluence in all of Canada, with my first occurring 9 years ago in Ontario. I had stood on 46 North a few times before, all the way from Oregon, to Montana, to Minnesota, to Michigan, and now, here. I had never stood on 65 West before. I did attempt 45 N 68 W not too terribly far from here, in Maine, in another forest. This was my first trip to New Brunswick and last night I saw the tides at Hopewell Rocks for the first time. I enjoyed my moments of solitude here, and hated to leave, but I had a longish journey out of here, and needed to get to the airport.
Those who know me know that I love to take hikes with circle routes; i.e. going back a different way than I came in. However, this would not be one of those times.
This was not the time to be taking chances, wandering around in a forest. Therefore I walked back through the trees, following my GPS track from a half hour previously; back to the second trail, and then to the intersection with the first and largely submerged trail. Somehow it wasn't as difficult going back out; maybe I was past the point about caring how wet I was getting. I reached the clear cut and meandered through the bogs, reaching the vehicle with about 2.75 hours total hike time. Once there, I changed most of my clothing for the airport ride but I hoped that the bags I placed my wet clothing wouldn't offend any passengers when I carried it on board. The hike seemed longer than I expected, but I was very satisfied the way it all turned out. I still had an hour to visit Magnetic Point in Moncton, and then stumbled upon a beautiful Stations of the Cross not far from there, near the concert site, and I was the only visitor that morning; a beautiful place. All of this was indeed a great way to spend my last morning in Canada! Get out there and explore the Earth!