25-Jul-2002 -- After having completed 118/54, I decided we might as well see if we could also do 117/54. I already had the maps and we were planning to go through Fox Creek, AB anyway. After looking over the maps I figured we should be able to get within 1 mile of the confluence before we had to get out of the truck and walk. The main problem we faced was were exactly the confluence was. I appeared from looking over both of the maps that the confluence was located on the south shore of the Berland River. (same river just more water) However it was possible, since we knew the maps weren’t perfect, that the confluence could be situated on either side of the River or even in it.
After Tanking up the truck in Fox Creek (which turned out to be the highest price for Diesel of the trip) we headed for the 947 Forest Service Road. This road actually ends up in Edson, if you so desire. The road was good compared to some forest service roads we had been on, however there were a large number of soft spots which kept you on your toes. There were two possible routes to take so I decided to go via the southern road and come out via the northern road.
The southern route took us over the Athabasca River and past the Kaybob Gas plant. The road circled around and we once again crossed the Athabasca River. (see photo) From there we made our way to the North side of the confluence.
The first thing we did was to drive around checking to see how close the roads actually came to the confluence, where the cut lines where located, and in which direction they went. I again noted that the two maps we had showed different cut lines. Driving from the North to Southern side, we crossed the Berland River, and could see that it has certainly become bigger than it was when we visited it during the 118/54 trip. This meant that if we had to go into the River or cross it, we were going to have a tougher time.
After scouting out the area, we decided to try from the North side first. We had found a trail which was near 117 degrees and appeared to go towards the River. After a 1/2 walk through the woods, having followed a couple of trails to within 100 feet of the River we arrived at the River bank, just east of 117. We walked down the River towards 117 and 54. Due to the bends in the River both 117 and 54 were running diagonal to the river. While the walk along the river was quite easy, the river shoreline consisted of large round rocks, 6 inches to 2 feet in size, thus ensuring you were always watching your step. In the end we were about 1000 feet from the confluence, which meant that that 117/54 was about 800 feet from the other side of the River. We walked up and down the River to see if there were any good crossing points. While we found two promising spots, they both meant we would still have a tough time getting across. After consultation with my wife, (she said NO), we decided to try getting to the confluence from the South side.
We decided to walk down the Gas Line Right of Way which came off the Road near the Bridge. At that point we were about 1 mile down river from the confluence. By this time it was well after 6 PM, which meant we only had a few hours to get there and return before dark. We walked a quarter mile down the gas line, and then decided that we would try to bushwhack through the forest as the gas line was not going in the direction we had hoped. We figured the forest would be like the Northern side of the River where it was very open with little underbrush. However the South side was not to be so easy as the underbrush was very heavy. After 10-15 minutes of tough sledding we came across an old cat trail, which although it was going in the wrong direction, lead down to the river.
My Wife has already suggested that we walk up the River shoreline, but knowing better I had told her to forget that foolish idea. I now had to eat my words, and up the River we walked. For most of the trip we were able to walk along the river bank and only had to go into the bush on a couple of occasions. However when we were still a significant distance away from the confluence it became evident that we were again going to have to bushwhack. With the fading light we decided to call off the attempt and try again in the morning.
That night we camped by the River and watched as a very large fish continued to jump in front of us. My Wife drooled well into the evening and wished an Alberta fishing license would appear. (no such luck)
The next morning we drove down the South side road and looked for other cut lines which might get us close to the confluence. As it was we found a cut line which appeared to be going towards the confluence. We parked the truck and started to make our way down the cut line. The GPS said I was just over 1 mile from the river. While the long grass and brush were wet from the rain which fell the night before, the walk down the cut line was relatively easy. However all goods things must end and about 1000 feet before we got to the confluence the cut line ended. I then walked North until I reached 117 degrees and again started to bushwhack through the trees. Just before reaching the confluence I again came across a small cut line which was running parallel to 54 degrees. Within 50 feet of this cut line we found the confluence. Even though we knew we were close to the River, the bush was dense enough to hide any evidence that the river was there.
On our way back to the truck we followed this new cut line which came out behind a new gas well. OH LOOK, A ROAD!!!! We then followed the adjoining road out to the main road. While the walk back to the truck was about twice as long as returning via our original route, and we had lots of Alberta gumbo on our boots, it meant we didn’t have to walk through the wet grass.
Elevation was 3113 ft.