20-Feb-2002 -- February: what a time to visit Manitoba. Great weather, family and several unvisited confluences. My sister borrowed a GPS unit and we had the intentions of visiting 51 N 100 W, lying inside Riding Mountain National Park (but just barely). While this goal never seriously materialized, according to the maps on this borrowed Garmin , 51 N 101 W lay only metres from a line innocuously marked ROAD, and only 70 km from my childhood home. I decided to try it out.
The weather had been great all week that we were there: at -15 C, i counted my blessings. On day one of this attempt, we (my partner, my three month old daughter and I), drove from Dauphin MB to Grandview MB and from there on gravel roads towards. Once reaching the above mentioned "ROAD", however, the way became progressively worse. About 2 km from the site, the road was hard packed snow, and we were faced with a rather sizeable hill, considering that we were in Manitoba. I walked to the top of the hill to survey the potential of going further. I decided the hill wasn't that bad, that the top of the hill wasn't that bad, and the way down the hill wasn't that bad either. I walked back to the car to make a go of it. After driving about one third the way up this hill, spinning tires indicated to me that perhaps a Toyota Camry with no winter tires wasn't the best idea i had ever had at tackling this modest incline. Backing down the hill, we called it quits.
Repeating the same drive the next day, I parked the car and walked the two kilometres to the site. I found out that my assessment of the hill from the day before was severely flawed. Around a curve on the downhill, I found knee-high drifts of snow. Walking them was no problem, but driving them the day before would have been a great way to get stuck.
The 2 km walk culminated with a slight bend in the now familiar "ROAD". Up until that bend, I was positive that the confluence was going to lie on crown (government-owned) land, since on either side of the road was--for the most part--forest, and the point was so close to the northern boundary of Riding
Mountain National park. After turning the bend, I found myself, surprisingly, in a farmer's yard (the surprise for the most part due to the impassability and apparent disuse of "ROAD").
Being an introvert at heart, I instantly knew the hardest part of the trip lay ahead of me. But my drive to at least get some sort of picture pushed me towards the cow corral where I saw a farmer. I was now less than 60 m from the site. Walking up to the corral to talk to him, I successfully spooked his cows. Off to a great start. He waved me away from the corral, and we stood in his yard to discuss my mission. Joining us in the yard were the farm dog, Rover, and three cats who were apparently eating a calf carcass.
The farmer agreed to let me take pictures of the confluence, which appeared to lie on the other side of the corral where I had just successfully spooked his cows. His provision, of course, was that he would walk me through the corral. My brief explanation and vague pointing in the direction of the confluence led him to believe that it would be coincident with the 'quarter-mile section peg'. However, this was not so. The confluence point, as close as I could figure, was *in the corral* with the cows. Not willing to push my lukewarm reception any further, I took the pictures shown here, around 10-15 m from the point. To the south we see Riding Mountain National Park (only 1/2 mile south of the confluence).
After some further discussion with the farmer (who was mostly interested in my success in spooking his cows -- "I've never seen them spook like that"
"We had government vets in here just last year testing for TB and they didn't spook at all"), I found out that the ROAD, which is not maintained in the winter from the point which I parked my car, was graded down to the gravel from the farm house on, where it ran parallel to the park and back to Grandview. Of course, this was my lesson in never using the GPS maps to choose your route. A little embarrassed, I returned to my car and headed home.
Perhaps a secondary confluence point isn't worth a second trip, but if it were, a landowner's letter would certainly be in order (again, my confidence in a crown-land ending to this trek assured me that I wouldn't need one). For a 'long time watcher, first time hunter', I feel pretty ok about my success: not perfect, but not bad.