21-Oct-2002 -- We originally had planned to do this confluence near the end of July. However I noted that someone else had put a plan on the site saying they were going to give it a try. Thus we decided to leave this confluence as there were other confluences we could do.
However, on the 21st of September we were heading to Barkerville (80km west of Quesnel) for a joint Friendship meeting with Job’s Daughters, between the Bethels in Prince George and William’s Lake. The meeting was being held at the Masonic Hall which is right in the Barkerville historic townsite. As is my “bad” habit I checked to see if this confluence had been done. I was surprised to find it was not and quickly threw the GPS and maps in the truck.
We finished the meeting around 3:00pm and headed out in search of the confluence. Both kids were ecstatic about spending a couple of hours driving through prime gold panning territory. My ears are still ringing from their comments.
I already had topographical maps of the area, however for some reason they did not show all the roads. This was one time that the Forest service map lived up to its billing. We turned onto the Bowron Lakes road a few miles out of Barkerville and quickly turned right onto the 3100 road which leads to Likely, BC. We followed this road for 45 km until we came to the 3100B road. The 3100B road runs along the north side of the Matthew River, parallel to the 3100 road. However there is a posted sign which says the road is closed past the 18km mark. From my quick calculations I concluded that this should be beyond our destination, but not by much.
We followed the 3100B road for 3-4km until we crossed the Matthew River. Not far past this point the road starts to resemble more of a Goat trail. It wasn’t unusual for trees to be brushing both sides of the truck at the same time. About 10km down this road we came across a small creek running across the road. Obviously the culverts had been removed after the area had been logged, which looked to have been well over 10 years before. Over the next 3km we had to go through 2 more of these “drainage canals,” something we would end up getting used to, but that’s for a bit later.
At this point we were heading SE so I was watching for us to come up to 121 degrees. This we did at the 14km mark. We turned around and drove back a short distance looking for a logging road going up the mountain. Luckily we located such a logging road and decided to follow it up the mountain. At this point our elevation was about 3200 feet. (the DCP site listed the elevation of this confluence at 5200 feet while the topographical map showed the elevation to be 6200 feet) Either way we were pretty sure we would be hiking up hill through the bush.
We stopped to get our bearings and get an idea of where the confluence actually sat. A rough visual seemed to point to the extreme left side of the mountain we were facing. It turned out I was off by one mountain as confirmed by the topographical map.
Knowing that we were in the right area, we proceeded to drive up the logging road which at first virtually went straight up. However we quickly came upon more of those entertaining drainage ditches which were installed in the road after the logging had been completed. After a couple of truck swallowing ditches we decided to turn around and come back another day when we had more time. It looked like we would be walking up from 3200 feet, but that would have to wait for another day.
The next time we could get out was Sept. 29. This time we only had one of the “brats” along. We again drove up the logging road, but this time I decided to try to see how far I could get before we had to get out and walk. From the 3100B road we could see that there where logging roads going quite a way up the cut block. After going through more then enough drainage ditches, we parked the truck and began to walk. We found that there were actually three different roads leading to the area of the confluence. Seeing as this confluence was at least another 1000 feet above our location. (we were at 4100 feet) we decided to take the top road. That logging road appeared to go around the mountain and into the valley we were likely going to walk through.
The top road came to an end at 4800 feet, however it ended at the edge of the valley and from the GPS we were able to ascertain that we would have to go down into the valley and hike back up the side of the mountain next to the one we were on. From where we stood the confluence was to our right and near the top of the next mountain. This meant that not only did we have to trudge through the cut block with all its dead fall and brush, but when we got to other side we had to climb up a very steep mountain.
After taking a look around we decided to walk up the valley through the clear cut and trying hiking up the other mountain. By going this route we hoped to minimize the distance we would have to travel through the bush.
However the trip down and through the valley was a lot harder than it looked and required us to go down to 4300 feet before we could travel back up the valley. Once we made it up the valley to the end of the cut block we found the bush to be full of blow down and dead fall. I hiked up the mountain another 300 feet, but found that not only was it very steep but the blow down was just as bad as it was near the bottom. I could see that it was going to take at least 2 more hours to get to the confluence which meant we would likely run out of daylight. I decided we would have to come back another day and try again. Likely taking a different route. The one bonus was that there was a creek flowing down the valley and the water was “great.”
On the way out we counted the number of drainage ditches we went through. We were at over 80 when we quit counting.
Our next attempt was Oct. 05. No brats this time. However we were under some time constraints as we had to get back for hockey. A one way trip was over 3 hours so we didn’t have much time to waste.
This time however we decided to walk up the valley from the lower logging road and enter the bush at a spot on the mountain which was not so steep.
The area had fresh snow which came down to the 4500 foot mark. This meant the roads where wet and muddy. I noticed that the truck was slipping quite a bit so we only drove up the mountain about a 1/3 of the way. It turned out that I had managed to loosen up the electronic 4 wheel drive switch. I switched to 4 wheel using the manual hubs but we decided to not take any chances and parked the truck. This meant we had to hike an extra 1.5km up the hill, which added an extra 1 hour or more to the hike.
We followed the lower road until it became a cat trail which had been replanted, and then we were back to making our way through the cutblock. At this point we were about 100 feet above the creek and from there we picked out the route we would take up the side of the mountain.
After filling up with creek water we started our trek. However once again the bush was heavy with blow down and dead fall making the hike slow and frustrating. After a tough 500 feet my other half decided she had gone as far as she could. I decided to see how far I could get on my own and set out. One of the first obstacles I met was an escarpment which ran along the side of the mountain. In this area it was about 20-30 feet high however I was able to easily find a route up through it. After another couple of hundred feet I stopped at a clearing full of blow down to get a reading off of the GPS. At that point I was still 2/3 of a mile away and I was seeing snow on the ground. There was no way I was going to make it today. It looked liked this would have to wait until next summer.
After we managed to get 122-54 we noted that the snow line had climbed back up to the 6000 foot mark due to the warm weather we had received during the past week. Thus on Oct. 21 Tori and I again made our way to try to tame this beast. We left around 7:30am just as it was getting light. Normally we would liked to have tried to leave earlier but at this time of year fog is always a problem and I didn’t relish having to drive during the night in heavy fog. (even if it was to go confluence hunting) I was hoping that the weather around the confluence would be clear but didn’t hold out much hope seeing as it was fogged in everywhere. Thankfully that wasn’t the case and as we neared the confluence we could see that we were looking at bright sky all around, except for the cloud hanging over the confluence. Oh well, at least we wouldn’t get sunburned.
This time I decided to follow 121 degrees up the mountain until we got to 54 degrees. We once again drove up the 80 plus drainage ditches but this time we went up the middle logging road. We didn’t make it far before we decided that the truck couldn’t go any further. So before setting off on foot I turned the truck around to make our escape easier when we left for home. However I didn’t notice that this 50 foot section of road was actually built on logs and in the process of turning the truck around, managed to put the rear end into the ditch. Once again Macho man screws up in front of his woman. (when will I ever learn?) A distasteful inspection showed that we were hanging over the butt ends of logs which were around 1 foot in diameter. So much for confluence hunting today I thought to myself. I can see it taking a couple of hours to get the truck jacked up and onto something solid. The first thing to do was to cut the butt end of the log on the passenger side at an angle in order to make it easier for the tire to come up over the log. I also didn’t want to see my rear end get ripped off of the truck. After this was done I tried to get the truck out but could only measure progress by a couple of short inches. Another inspection showed we were now also sitting on a short log which was wedged under the axle and drive shaft. After getting rid of that piece of wood I again tried to walk the truck out. To my surprise it came out. Who said Fords aren’t tough? That had only wasted about 1/2 hour which meant the confluence hunt was back on.
We hiked up the road and this time we checked to see what line 121 degrees followed up the mountain. The road we were on ended on 121 degrees so we could visually make a straight line to the confluence, or at least in that direction. At that point we had hiked 3/4 mile from the truck. The GPS showed we were about another 3/4 of a mile away from the confluence and it would be uphill most of the way.
After hiking across the cutblock and making our way across the creek we set off up the mountain through the bush. Thankfully the first 500 plus feet were not too bad for blow down and dead fall. While there was still plenty around it wasn’t unbearable. Of course we had the escarpment to deal with and this time there was no easy path through it. We ended up hiking at least 500 feet to the east before we found a possible path. While the path was very steep requiring us to climb on our hands and knees, there were plenty of trees and brush to grab onto while we climbed the rocks. The escarpment here was 40-50 feet high.
Once past the escarpment the slope continued to be steep, but the thick forest had given away to smaller trees and less blow down and dead fall. Hiking was slow but steady. It took over two hours to get from the creek up to the confluence but this also included many stops to put out markers and have a rest. At about the 6000 foot mark we again encountered snow in the open areas.
The confluence was in a fairly open area with the exact point being right at the location of a small 2 foot high tree. Elevation was 6117 feet, which was about 900 feet higher than the web site had indicated. Another 200 feet gain in elevation would have put us past the tree line but as we only had a couple of hours of daylight left and we decided not to continue on up the mountain any further. Maybe next time.
Our way back down was certainly easier than the climb up, but due to the steepness of the terrain we had to be cautious. At times we wondered how we made it up the mountain.
We arrived back at the truck just as it was getting dark. I have some great sunset photos from 4200 feet.