25-May-2003 -- It is not likely that anyone else will visit this confluence, since it is in Wood Buffalo National Park, in an area that is designated as special preservation with no access during the whooping crane breeding season.
The nature of our work is monitoring this crane population, which allows us to obtain permits to enter the area for research purposes. In addition landing permits are required to land an aircraft anywhere in the park.
On May 22, 2003 we unsuccessfully tried to visit this confluence. We were out reading water level gauges along Northwest Territories Highway 5 and decided to visit the confluence. We walked along the old winter road to Fort Smith, past a trapper’s cabin and along the trapline to a point about 2 kilometres north of the confluence. The bush was thick and wet and we decided that we would not be able to make our way to the confluence that day.
On May 25 we were conducting work in the area with a helicopter and would be about 300 metres from the confluence while checking whooping crane nests for the Canadian Wildlife Service. We had finished our observations of the cranes in the area and decided to take a lunch break. Our pilot Kim Hornsby landed the helicopter in an opening, just large enough for our helicopter about 340 metres south east of the confluence.
We donned waders and made our way through the water, sedge, willow and tamarack to dry land, then through a burned over jack pine stand, picking our way through the deadfall. Once we were through the deadfall walking was easy through the open forest to the confluence. Our GPS indicated that we were at 60 00 00.0 North and 113 00 00.0 West.
Mosquitoes were everywhere while we photographed the confluence. We were in the middle of a mature mixed wood forest dominated by aspen and white spruce with a few balsam poplars. Growing on the ground under the forest canopy we observed sphagnum, bunchberry, bearberry, an unknown grass and pink pyrola. The only birds that we heard calling were several Tennessee warblers.