04-Aug-2003 -- This confluence is located near the middle of Williston Lake. Normally, a confluence being in the middle of a lake wouldn’t be much of an issue. However, in this case, Williston Lake is only the largest lake in British Columbia, being created by the construction of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam. The distance from the south end of the lake to the confluence is over 100 Km.
It took 2 attempts to get to this confluence, largely because of the lack of access to the lake in the vicinity of the confluence.
On our first attempt we drove the 1.5 hours from Prince George, north along the Hart Hwy (Hwy 97) until we came to the Findlay Forest Service Road. This FSR is located only a few miles south of the turn off to Hwy 39, which is the road to Mackenzie. The first 20 km of the Findlay FSR are no longer maintained due to the new shorter access road which had now been constructed between the FSR and Mackenzie. However, after that the road is well maintained, largely due to the fact that it is the main access road into the area, including the Kemess Mine.
Our trip up the Findlay was fairly quiet, except for the wrong turn I made at the 100 Km mark. Instead of taking the right fork, I took the left one, and ended up on the road heading west to Manson Creek. It took more than a few miles to notice we had made the wrong turn. We thus managed to spend a good hour touring the bush instead of making our way to the confluence.
The maps showed there were some possible side road in which to access the lake, around the 130 Km mark. However none of the roads seemed to be still in service, so we proceeded up the road until we came to the Omineca Arm. From there we drove east along the shore for a short distance before the road came to an end.
The GPS showed that we were still 12 miles west and 1.5 miles north of the confluence. We decided to put the boats in here and travel by water the rest of the way. Putting in at this location was a challenge due to the large amount of driftwood and stumps along the shoreline. Once in the water we had to be very cautious due to the large amount of deadheads and floating debris. Williston being a Human made reservoir means there is a lot of “junk” in the water. As usual BC Hydro doesn’t look at the Human use aspect and impact of what they are doing.
Top speed with our race boat is under 7 miles per hour, if the wind is at our back so we knew we had a good 4 to 5 hour trip ahead of us. However, about 1.5 miles into the trip the we noted that even though we were more than 1000 feet from shore, the lake was only a foot or so deep in this area. We discovered how shallow the water was when the prop started to make funny grinding noises. This discovery made us stop and re-evaluate our situation. We decided to try the trip another day when we had more time.
There was however a golden lining. We found a great beach, with lots of sand and shallow, warm water. We played on the beach for almost a hour before heading back. Before leaving, the crew christened the beach,
“Star Wars Beach” because of the way the stumps were standing. Most stumps in the area were still in place but the gravel had been washed away from their roots.
On the way back down the road we checked out a side trail which we hadn’t seen driving up. This trail actually wasn’t that bad to drive on as it seemed to have missed the yearly wash out most logging roads get each spring. We followed the road for about 13 Km, ending on the shore of the lake. This time the GPS was being kinder, and from this point we were about 1.5 miles south and 6 miles west of the confluence. However it was now after 6 PM so we would have to return another day.
We made our 2nd attempt the next weekend. This time we drove up through Ft St. James and then made our way to Manson Creek. Manson Creek has a population of 29 people and has been in existence for 100 years. The main draw?? Gold.
We overnighted on Uslika lake and then made our way to Williston lake via the Findlay FSR. Only this time we came from the north. We noted the lack of animals, figuring they were all on holidays somewhere back east.
We again made our way to the newly found launch site and set off for the confluence. This time we made sure we had the spare prop with us, in case we again found shallow water. Of course we didn’t, and made the return trip in about 4 hours, including a stop along the way to check out another beach.
Of note was the fact that we never did see another person (or boat) on the lake.
Elevation of the lake at that time was 2218 feet.