30-Jul-2002 -- We started this day off camping Near Prince Albert. Again we tanked the truck up and made a stop at Tim Horton’s for Coffee and a box of fattening doughnuts.
After taking a quick look to see if we could find 103/53 (couldn’t find any roads), we decided to see if we could locate 102/53. Unlike the bush around the 103/53 areas, most of this area appeared to have farms. That meant we should be able to get close by just following the back roads.
102/53 is located North of Highway 3 in Saskatchewan and is situated NW of Armit. We turned north off of the highway about 5 miles west of Armit and headed down the back road. We followed this first road as far north as possible. When it appeared to be coming to an end we turned to the east and followed this road for about 5 miles, which meant we actually had to cross 102 degrees. This road eventually turned to the North and we followed it until it again turned to the east. At this point there was a tractor trail which continued on north and we decided to follow it. This trail ended about 1/2 mile from the road and still appeared to be the best bet for finding the confluence. We checked out the area and found a built up cart trail at the back of the crop fields which followed an East/West route. I also found a survey marker indicating that this area had been surveyed in 1937, and thus speculated that this trail had been constructed around that time, and hopefully it would actually have been built as a transportation route.
At this point we were about 2.5 miles SE of the confluence and decided to walk down the cart trail in hopes that it would take us within easy access of the confluence. However this was not to be as the trail ended about a 1000 feet after we started walking. There were a couple of game trails which proved to go nowhere so we decided to follow an old ATV trail which wound it’s way towards 102 degrees. Again this didn’t last long and we found ourselves bushwhacking. At this point I decided to take the most direct route though the bush and began walking straight towards the confluence. After about 10 minutes I could see a clearing ahead of us. Either we were coming up to a farmer’s field or we had just found a swamp. It turned out to be more of a marsh which was relatively dry, likely due to the lack of rain. Most of the walk through the marsh consisted of either going through brush 5 to 10 feet high, or stepping through heavy, thick grass and mud. We tried to walk along game paths if we found them, but eventually we found that we were going away from the confluence. The Marsh was about 1/2 mile in length and once we got to the other side I decided to walk along the edge until we came close to 53 degrees.
Once we got back on track we headed into the bush with the first part actually having the appearance of another cat trail. However that didn’t last long and we again were in strictly bush. At this point I marked our location with the GPS for future reference. This would prove valuable when we made our trek back to the truck.
We walked through the bush for another 1/2 mile or so. My Wife commented that it seemed we were going in a circle. Although I was following the GPS in a relatively straight line, it was interesting to note that fact was being overridden by appearance. It’s no wonder people get lost and disoriented out in the bush. It was easy to see how people who are lost travel in circles if a straight line actually feels like you are going in a circle. Being from British Columbia, we are used to having mountains and rivers to help guide us when we are out in the bush, but in the Prairies there are none of those items to help provide reference points.
Eventually we came upon another opening which we again hoped was a farmers field. It wasn’t. At least it wasn’t the same marsh we had walked through earlier. I would never have lived that one down. I could hear my wife telling everyone about how the GREAT Macho Bush Man took them around in circles while using the GPS.
This turned out to be more of a Muskeg swamp. Lots of brush around 2-3 feet high, few large trees and very deep moss. It was not uncommon to sink over 1 foot or more while walking. Unfortunately under the moss was water. Needless to say we all ended up get "soakers" and where my ears ever burning. I asked the crew on a number of occasions if they wanted to wait there and I would continue on by myself. However to their credit they never quit complaining or walking, so after a walk of about 1 mile through the swamp we found the confluence. No sign of any other human having been there, but I could see one or two deer and moose had gone through.
After marking the spot and taking pictures we decided to make our way over to what looked like bush (the trees were tall) in hopes that the walking wood be easier. (elevation at the confluence was 1057 feet) The walking was easier only because there wasn’t as much water. This however made the moss very soft and tough to walk over. Every step was an effort, especially for my Wife who was feeling the effects of old age and too many Tim Hortons goodies. Sinking up to our knees was not uncommon.
In order to make things easier we decided to cut through another small swamp and get right into the bush where the walking would be easier. I kept following the GPS to the location I had marked earlier. The crew was now making comments about getting lost in the forest and the quickly approaching darkness. I figured if we could get back to a familiar land mark their confidence in my compass expertise would be re-established. Of course we walked right to the spot I had marked and I again became the hero they had come to respect on many occasions.
An aside to this portion of the hike was discovery of some deer antlers which my wife found after two of us walked right past them. My wife had long complained that after all the bushwhacking we do it would sure be nice to find some antlers. The antlers also served to take the crew’s mind off of the arduous journey.
Once we reached the first mark, I again set the GPS to take us to the truck. By then it was well after 8 PM and with the overcast sky, was beginning to get dark. I decided to try and pick up the pace even though we were only 1/3 mile from the truck. In doing so we spooked an animal who was on the other side of a bush. From the noise it made it sounded like a deer but the thought that it might be a bear helped to speed up the crew.
We actually managed to overshoot our original route and ended up coming in behind the old built up cart trail. Once again the Macho Man had found his way back (thanks to the GPS), and of course I again looked like a hero. We were back at the camper in one piece after a trek of just over four hours.
However as I approached the camper I noticed something was wrong. Being on gravel roads the back of the Camper was dirty with mud and dust. Yet there was a clean spot on the window at the back of the camper and I didn’t remember it being there when we left. I suspected that the farmer who had the field beside this road had come to check out what we were doing. I quickly went around to the front of the truck to see if someone had broken in or left a note. Sure enough, on the drivers window, was a red sticker from the local RCMP detachment telling us that, as a service to us, our vehicle had been checked out and we should call within 24 hours to let them know all was OK. At least the truck was still in one piece. Normally this would be the end of the tale but we must not forget where we had stopped that morning. You guessed it, sitting on the table in the camper, and the first thing the RCMP officer would have seen when they looked in, was a box of Tim Hortons Donuts. We have to commend the training officers from Regina, for this Police Officer had been able to sniff out a box of Tim Hortons Donuts from over 20 miles away.