13-Jun-2014 -- This is a surprisingly easy confluence visit, provided you have the right modes of transportation. This was the Shannon brothers’ third successful visit on the 57th northern parallel.
We left Peace River for the town of Red Earth Creek, 160 km away. The turnoff for the confluence was 60.0km north of Red Earth along highway 88. We opted to take the bridge across Loon River near the highway 88 north of the confluence other than the Peerless lake route. There didn't seem to be a promising way to cross the creeks, not to mention the longer gravel route. Highway 88, which follows the Loon River, was freshly paved from being a gravel road a few years ago so we thought we'd enjoy the smooth road. The turnoff had a sign for Pengrowth South Senex Facility 05-17-93-05 W5M, 20 km. We were surprised to see a second bridge over the Loon River just 50 metres from the first. We turned south at what looked like a 5 way intersection from the satellite photo onto Renegade Petroleum's Red Fish Road. We exited this road onto a closed winter road.
We unloaded our Rhino from the truck when we reached a log and board bridge over a 10 metre wide creek at 57.035746, -115.010826. The boards and logs bent and creaked under just my body weight while I carefully picked my way across. It was kind of sketchy. Greg bravely drove the Rhino across it while I got the camera ready on the other side. If he’s going to fall in, I might as well get it on video! What a good brother I am. This turned out to be the trickiest part of the drive there. There were steel piles for a much more robust bridge just 30 metres away, but it hasn't been there for a few winters. There was a hunter's blind platform and bear bait at one end of the bridge.
The Rhino made short work of the muskeg for the remaining 5.5 kilometres. For the most part the track was excellent being elevated out of the muskeg. A few creek crossings that suddenly dropped the road 2 metres straight down limited our speed to 25 km/h. The density of mosquitoes also kept our speed down. If we drove any faster, we wouldn’t be able to breath! We worked our way to a point due west of the confluence, and took a convenient cut to the ESE that just missed the confluence by 200 metres to the south. When I told Greg to stop the Rhino so we could get out and walk the 200 metres, he said, "Why don't we turn right here?!"
It was like a practical joke how easy this confluence had become. Another elevated road ran right to the confluence, missing it by only 20 metres!
We got out, did the confluence dance in the muskeg in our rubber boots and kept walking to keep the mosquitoes from swarming our heads. The nice sunny 22 C day kept the mosquitoes from being too energetic. We saw some thunderstorms off on the horizon so we decided not to doddle since we could get seriously stuck if the road got soaked and muddy.
The point itself was located in very spongy muskeg. Waterproof rubber boots were absolutely necessary to walk to it in the summer. There were some ant hills nearby. As for large animals, we saw a black bear mom and her two cubs when we got back on the highway, as well as a few herds of deer.
Since it was hardly noon, we detoured our route home to swing by the secondary confluence to the west, 57°N 116°W, but the road ended 4.5 km short at Sawn Lake. The road to Bison Lake north of Haig Lake was too muddy. Both these confluence should not be attempted in the summer if the ground is wet.