The visit to 50N 117W began with a preliminary investigation of the area using Google Earth. Noting that the previous visit had been in late spring when there was still snow at that location, I felt that it now might be possible to drive to a point above the CP and hike down through a clearcut. That would depend on the condition of the road as I feared there could be washouts, missing bridges, or fallen trees blocking the way. It turned out that I need not have worried.
Under clear blue skies and with the temperature about 15 Celsius, we left Castlegar shortly after 10:00 A.M. and drove to Kaslo where we stopped at The Rosewood Cafe for a delicious lunch. After the meal, we proceeded west on Highway 31A for a distance of 11.1 km and then turned off on the Blue Ridge Forest Service Road. There was a sign there indicating this was the route to the old Buchanan Lookout, so I knew we were at the correct starting point.
Setting the trip odometer to zero and using a checklist of distances and geographic points that I had created from Google Earth, we were easily able to determine which way to go whenever the road branched. Though the surface was gravel, it was in fairly good condition. I selected four-wheel drive as the road steepened and we slowed to a crawl whenever it was crossed by water bars, or ditches designed to prevent erosion. Finally, at km 11.2 on Spur 200 we arrived at the clearcut I had seen on Google Earth. We stopped for a brief look then carried on to another re-planted clearcut at the end of the road. After taking a few photos there, we turned around and returned to park above the CP.
My wife decided not to accompany me to the actual confluence point, but took the opportunity to relax and do a bit of knitting instead. Shouldering my pack, and with my Magellan GPS in hand, over the bank I went and started to pick my way through the huckleberry bushes, fireweed, and young trees that dotted the clearcut. It took just under a half hour from the time I started down until I finally reached the CP on a fairly steep hillside about 100 metres into the forest. It was here that I lost my footing and crashed down on my back. While trying to sit up and get my feet under me, I leaned forward and my pack twirled over my head. The next thing I knew I found myself sliding face first down the slope through the underbrush. Slithering around trying to locate my glasses which had went flying, I could hear the sound of an elk bugling somewhere below me in the woods – probably wondering what all the noise was about.
It was only a short distance from where I fell to where my GPS indicated I was right at the CP. Just to make sure, I removed the Garmin 255 from my pocket and noted that it displayed essentially the same information. After taking a few photos of the forest surrounding the CP, I drank some of the juice I had brought and then started climbing back up the hillside.
Breaking out of the forest into the clearcut, I could hear my wife calling though I couldn’t make out what she was saying as she was well over 300 metres away. She later told me she had just been yelling, “Yoo-hoo!” as she wasn’t able to see me in the shadows of the forest behind me. It took another half hour to slowly zig-zag my way back up the slope to where she was waiting. After a short break to enjoy some dried fruit and another bottle of juice, we retraced our route back to the highway.
On the way home, we stopped for supper at Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort and then spent an enjoyable hour or so relaxing in the pool under the starry night sky. It was a fitting end to a wonderful day.
Coordinator's Note: Visit is marked as Incomplete due to lack of photos.