12-Jan-2000 -- Much of northern Alberta is covered in bush or muskeg (bog).
This winter, we had a prolonged cold spell and not much
snow. With some mild temperatures, this was nearly ideal
weather for venturing into the wilderness. I had never been
to Ft.McMurray before, so this was a chance to see the area.
I drove up the night of the 11th (listening to the
resignation of the separatist Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard
on the radio), and then drove the 1 hour trip south to the
nearest (I thought) approach to 56N-111W. According to
some 5 year old resource maps, a road would take me within
about 5km of the confluence where it approached a rail line.
At the point where the road met the rail line, there was a
logging camp, which was where I parked my truck (picture
included - little blue Ford Ranger).
On foot, I crossed the rail line and started west on a
cutline (which was on the map). Not too far into the hike,
I happened across a road which wasn't on my map. I
continued to follow the road until I got further north of
56 degrees then I wanted, and took a cutline to the west.
I then met up with a cleared area, served again by road.
The confluence is probably only a 2km hike from this area.
I followed a cutline heading west from this cleared area
towards the confluence. I came upon the Kettle River
valley, and proceeded to walk down to the river (now frozen
and looked to have been dammed by a beaver). The hill on
the west side was quite steep and was on the order of 35m
of elevation change (I was getting soaked from exertion).
I continued on the cutline until I reached 111W, and then
headed south into the bush to get to 56N. Just before I
reached 56N, the brush opened up into muskeg. This would
be a difficult site to get to in the summer.
I arrived at the confluence at about 11:44 am (500000E and
6206081N 603m Elevation according to my Garmin 12), took
some picture of the GPS unit laying on a map at the
confluence, a picture to magnetic N, E, W and S and then a
picture of the pack I was wearing.
After taking the pictures, I continued to go south to meet
up with another cutline I knew to be there, where I turned
east. The confluence is approximately half way between the
two cutlines. I descended down to the Kettle River again,
just below a beaver dam, and the hill on the other side was
even steeper than the first one was. Shortly before I met
up with the road again, I happened across a place where it
looked like a pack of wolves had attacked a moose, there was
bright red stains on the snow and lots of tracks. No sign
of the animals (or carcass).