This degree confluence visit has been a few years in the making…..we have finally succeeded.
We made our first visit to a confluence, conquering 55N & 115W in 2005…….. My, where have the last ten years gone!!
Shortly after visiting the initial confluence to the east, we began to make plans to visit 55N & 116W as it too, had not been visited.
We made a first attempt at 55N 116W, in November 2007 but failed due to the depth of snow. Our plans where to drive on the closest available road, park our vehicles as near as possible to the point (approximately 25 kilometers) and use our ATV's to travel onward to the point. The snow depth made it impossible for our ATV's to travel.
The land where this point is found, is quite heavily treed and it also has many creeks, streams and tracts of muskeg or slough, best traversed in winter when frozen. The area does have many man made "cutlines" or trails throughout it, which are used for oil exploration, seismic activity, firefighting and logging etc.
We made a second attempt in May of 2008 and ATV'd within 7 kilometers of the point. On this attempt we spent the majority of a very long day, checking trails, attempting creek and muskeg crossings etc. and ended up running out of time, gas and had to turn back. From where we ended, our paper maps no longer indicated trails, cutlines or access points. It appeared that the point was in the middle of a large tract of forest, with no access other than to walk.
GPS technology in personal, handheld, affordable units have improved greatly since 2008. The detail and clarity of the earth views, available in 2015, especially the area where we were attempting to go, has changed considerably since 2008.
A third attempt to visit this confluence was made by Mike and Kris, two members of our group in October 2015. Once again they were foiled but continued exploration of the possibilities of different routes and available trails. They came within approx. 7 kms of the point, again seemly the end of the trails.
On December 12, 2015 we, Mike, Kris, Ethan and myself set out on a fourth and this time successful attempt. We drove north of Swan Hills a few kilometers, then turned west on the Goose tower road for approx. 28 kilometers where we found a place to park our vehicles. We off loaded our ATV's, armed with plenty of spare gas and enthusiasm, set off to the confluence point 25 km or so to the north.
Within two hours we found ourselves at the same spot that Mike and Kris had ended their last attempt. Much to our amazement we were greeted by the sight of a large all terrain water truck and a newly cut logging road being iced/frozen in preparation for truck hauling logs. We stopped to chat with the gentlemen there, explained our goal and were assured the road should lead us near our destination.
Following this newly made road, now 44 kms by ATV since leaving the trucks, we soon found ourselves 800 meters east of the point as the sun broke out to enhance our pictures of this frosty quest. We picked our way west through the bush for another 500 meters and stopped to walk the remaining 300 meters to the point. Sunlight glistened off the snow covered ground and frosted tree branches as we did the GPS dance to lock onto the point. We took the required pictures, had something to eat and headed back to the trucks as the sun set on our quest.
Thank you to Mike, Kris and Ethan ( now 12, aged 2 at our last confluence success... "no I don’t remember that last one Uncle Al")