I (Chris) was fortunate enough to spend a week up in Peace River to visit my brother Greg and his son. While the main goal was to help him finish building his fence, I was looking forward to completing some unfinished business of my own. Two years ago, on September 3rd 2006, only a week after Brad and Julie Emond attempted this confluence, my girlfriend and I also gave it a try. Since their visit was not submitted until after our attempt, we were foiled my the same gate as they were.
This confluence is in Greg's old stomping grounds as an operator for Husky. He had routinely driven this road to maintain and operate compressor stations off this road. He gave me a very interesting tour of one of these stations on the way back.
This confluence visit looked so easy on Google Earth, with a gravel logging road nearly running right through it. The gate forces you to use an alternative mode of transportation for the last 20 km though. Our transport of choice were bicycles. We budgeted a generous 2 hours each way, but we were hit hard by Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take Hofstadter's Law into account.
After record setting high temperatures in the high 20's in early October for the last few days, it had rained the night before our attempt. The gravel road turned to gluey mud. Our poor old bikes couldn't cope with the clogging mud, and we ended up walking our bikes through the grassy ditch for more than half the distance there. It took 4 hours to reach the confluence, which meant our average speed was that of a brisk walk!
The confluence itself was very easy to pinpoint. There was a convenient cutline that we used to get within 300 meters of the confluence. The cutline was named "B-Cable I Moose Camp" and is located just after the kilometer 78 marker. On the cutline we chatted with a hunter on a quad who wondered what we hoped to find out there. He was camping out there on a hunt. He had a GPS unit with him but fortunately for us, he was unaware of the degree confluence project. He routinely passed within 300 meters of the confluence. He also warned us of a mother bear and her two cubs he saw run off into the bush a couple kilometers down the road. We had come completely unprepared for an encounter unfortunately, so we made sure to keep talking to avoid surprising the bear.
My brother and I each used our GPS receivers to try to get to the all zeros, but we were confused when we were each there but 75 meters apart! It turns out that his was still set to the default NAD27 datum, and not the WGS84 as required by the project.
We talked about how were seemed like the first humans to stand here, even though there was plenty of block cutting and hunting nearby. We took pictures, exchanged high-fives and headed back to the cutline, cutting our legs on the thorny trees.
The sun was out most of the day, warming the air to a nice comfortable 10 degrees. A steady wind had helped dry the road, allowing us to bike nearly all the way back. Our return ride took only 3 hours. We saw around 100 white tailed deer and we passed 2 other pairs of guys on quads motoring down the road. Each gave us a courteous wave, but also a look of bewilderment to see two guys on old beat up bikes this far down a logging road.
It was a wonderful day and had quite a good time overall on this bike ride. We didn't let the fact that if we had taken quads across the creek to bypass the gate we could been there and back in 45 minutes. Our cognitive dissonance convinced us that we had more fun on the 7 hour bike ride anyway. We also were happy to not risk disobeying the ministerial authority for wildlife management that prohibited unauthorized motorized travel on that road.
Chris and Greg Shannon