30Jul2017  This is the first out of 13 reports reaching confluence points in Finland. On our 4day trip to Finland, we agreed to devote one day for confluencing – but this day we would spend entirely on visiting the maximal number of confluence points. We had reached 10 points in 2005 and 12 points in 2015. Would it be possible to beat our record?
In order to optimize our route through Finland, I calculated all driving times between neighbouring confluence points using Google Maps. I also estimated the hiking times to the confluences including the return to the car, considering the minimal parking distance, the terrain, the existence of footpaths and the vegetation. The result was an inscrutable graph with nodes and edges between them. It soon became obvious that southern Finland offered shorter travel times compared to the arctic north due to higher network density of roads in southern Finland. But how could I find the optimal route?
In order to find the quickest route, I wrote a simple MATLAB program based on a randomized global optimizer, also called Monte Carlo method, that cannot guarantee to deliver the quickest route, but a very quick route in reasonable computation time. This way, I minimized the sum of travel times between 15 confluence points. The output of this program was a route that was obviously a very good route and we prepared for it.
Critical was the daylight time. We had to arrive at the first CP with the first daylight and reach the last point before nightfall. At such high latitudes of more than 60°, the summer daylight is long and the beeline travel distances of around 50 km are less than half between longitude lines compared to the distances at the equator. However, the distances between longitudes remain at 110 km and the infrastructure of roads is significantly less dense compared to central Europe. Also critical were the pauses. To minimise them, we changed drivers, and the one who was not driving was eating our prepared food consisting of two loaves of bread, cheese, tomatoes etc.
We already arrived at Lappeenranta the day before, spending the night in town. At the hotel reception, we wanted to cancel our breakfast, arguing that we would leave the hotel too early. But the breakfast was included and offered “anytime”. But when we said that we would like to take breakfast at 3 AM, the receptionist asked us twice if he had understood correctly.
The next morning, our alarmclock woke us at 2:50 AM. After having our specially arranged early breakfast buffet, we left our hotel at 3:30 AM expecting a 14minute drive to this confluence point (according to Google Maps). But sometimes there is a gap between prediction and reality – such in this case. Road no.6 had been upgraded to a motorway with the drawback that the exits near the confluence had been removed. Our navigation system however had an old data set such that it told us nonsense. At the end, 14 minutes became 40 minutes until we were able to park the rental car at our planned spot in 200 m distance from the confluence point.
We walked along the edge of a wheat field and a forest up to a distance of 30 m. We then had to jump over a waterfilled ditch. Finally we found the confluence point in a young birch forest with a lot of undergrowth. The plants were covered with dew which made us totally wet.
Altogether it took us 17 hours 48 minutes to visit all 13 points, taking the picture of the first confluence at 4:34 AM and the last at 10:22 PM. On average it took us 1 hour 29 minutes to get from one point to another (75 minutes driving and 14 minutes hiking). The driving distance was 1013 km (thus we covered 84 km on average between two CPs) which is 40% more compared to the geometric distance of 732 km. The following table gives some more detailed statistics about the trip.
Number 
1 
2 
3 
4 
5 
6 
7 
8 
9 
10 
11 
12 
13 
Latitude 
61°N 
61°N 
61°N 
62°N 
62°N 
62°N 
62°N 
63°N 
63°N 
63°N 
63°N 
63°N 
63°N 
Longitude 
28°E 
27°E 
26°E 
26°E 
25°E 
24°E 
23°E 
22°E 
23°E 
24°E 
25°E 
26°E 
27°E 
Car
Parking [hh:min] 
04:28 
05:46 
06:59 
08:42 
10:51 
12:12 
13:31 
15:19 
16:35 
17:45 
19:05 
20:39 
22:03 
Picture
at CP [hh:min] 
04:34 
05:48 
07:01 
08:48 
10:55 
12:22 
13:34 
15:33 
16:41 
17:53 
19:12 
20:40 
22:14 
Time to CP
[hh:min] 
01:04 
01:12 
01:13 
01:47 
02:07 
01:27 
01:12 
01:59 
01:08 
01:12 
01:18 
01:28 
01:34 
Driving
Time [hh:min] 
00:58 
01:05 
01:08 
01:38 
01:59 
01:11 
01:00 
01:43 
00:49 
00:56 
01:01 
01:17 
01:18 
Hiking
Time [min] 
20 
5 
5 
10 
10 
19 
2 
27 
14 
19 
17 
6 
24 
Driving
distance [km] 
45 
76 
72 
127 
99 
73 
74 
134 
57 
60 
67 
88 
86 
Parking
distance [m] 
200 
106 
49 
122 
388 
412 
15 
555 
331 
458 
331 
130 
374 
Minimal
distance [m] 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
0 
GPS
accuracy [m] 
4 
3 
3 
4 
4 
3 
3 
4 
4 
3 
3 
3 
4 
Altitude 
74 
112 
111 
172 
108 
124 
145 
16 
41 
114 
180 
106 
107 














Here is an overview over all 13 confluences, including a snapshot the of confluence hunters as they appeared at the sites.
CP Visit Details:
 Distance of car parking: 200 m
 Time to reach the CP from the road: 12 min
 Time at the CP: 4:34 AM
 Measured height: 74 m
 Minimal distance according to GPS: 0 m
 Position accuracy: 4 m
 Topography: slightly hilly
 Vegetation: birch forest, ferns and bluebottles
 Weather: mostly clear, 14° C (felt temperature)
 Given Name: The Wetfield Wrongdrive Confluence
The story continues at 61°N 27°E.