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the Degree Confluence Project
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United States : Minnesota

11.0 miles (17.7 km) N of Hovland, Cook, MN, USA
Approx. altitude: 452 m (1482 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap topo aerial world confnav)
Antipode: 48°S 90°E

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: A fallen tree at the confluence #3: Climbing up the slope #4: Looking towards the Canadian border #5: Otter Lake #6: Show me the numbers!

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  48°N 90°W  

#1: The confluence spot, looking south

(visited by Pete Curtis)

12-May-2001 -- Well, today is the big fishing opener in Minnesota, and since I'm unlucky enough not to own a boat, I decided to participate in the outdoor spirit of the day anyway and find a confluence. I've had my eye on 48°N 90°W for the past couple of months. It's located the the northeastern corner of Minnesota, in the Grand Portage State Forest. There are two roads that come within a mile or so of the spot, but the entire area is heavily forested and a long ways from the nearest town.

It was about a 5-hour drive from my house to get near the area. Once I got there, I scouted both of the nearby roads to see which would yield the easiest approach (easy being a relative term). I chose the road that runs east-west on the south side of Otter Lake, which put the confluence about 3/4 of a mile north of where I parked. I just needed to follow the east edge of the lake and strike north when I left the lake behind.

The main reason I chose the southward approach was the prominent state forest sign saying "Trail" and leading north. I had no guarantee the trail would lead me all the way, of course, but the wise confluence hunter will keep bushwhacking to a minimum.

I followed the trail about halfway to the confluence before it veered off to the east. Although I couldn't see due to the thick tree cover, the trail probably turned off close to the northeastern edge of lake. The forest to the north was thick with undergrowth and toppled, rotting pine trees, and... in I went. The going was very slow; there were boulders mixed in with the fallen trees, and I began a habit of walking on the fallen tree trunks themselves in order to keep my progress from being painfully slow. After about a fifth of a mile I noticed an apparent thinning in the tree cover ahead of me. From looking at the topo map, I knew I was reaching the edge of an east-west ridge, rather than an open area (which, in that terrain, means swamp.)

According to the map, the slope drops about 200 vertical feet in a tenth of a mile! I maneuvered down a ravine that was a little more open than the rest of the area, but found this left me east of the confluence. Rather than backtracking, I decided to go partway down the slope and then follow it west. The ground here was even more treacherous - there were many more boulders, and little mossy hillocks that were not solid, but hollow inside. I had to proceed very slowly to avoid a carelessly placed step and a potential ankle injury. I finally reached the confluence spot after descending (in my estimate) about 80-100 vertical feet. Not surprisingly, there was nothing to distinguish it from the rest of the forest, so I chose a prominently splintered tree nearby as the "confluence marker", and took a photo of it.

The trip back wasn't much different. The forest was so thick that I had to bushwhack to go anywhere, so I decided to make use of the old adage about a straight line, and return simply by following my GPS arrow. This path led me almost straight up the slope, but that was possible because all the boulders provided somewhat horizontal surfaces, like steps on a staircase. After I reached the top of the ridge, though, I still had another .15 mile or so through fallen trees until I hit the trail. Walking back to the car was quite a relief!

Although this was only my second confluence, I've spent plenty of time doing both on and off-trail hiking. I can definitely say that this excursion was challenging, but a lot of fun at the same time. I'm looking forward to more contributions to this site!


 All pictures
#1: The confluence spot, looking south
#2: A fallen tree at the confluence
#3: Climbing up the slope
#4: Looking towards the Canadian border
#5: Otter Lake
#6: Show me the numbers!
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)