05-Nov-2001 -- Whenever I go on a trip now, I check the area for confluences before leaving. I had to go to the Terrace/Prince Rupert area for work, so I checked the confluence website, MapQuest, and another mapping website before leaving work. They showed that this confluence is within a few hundred feet from one of BC’s newest (and most remote) highways; the one which connects the Nass Valley to Hwy 16 at Terrace. The confluence is near the
Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park.
I decided to give it a shot. The only problem was that I couldn’t make the trip during the day, as daylight is scarce this time of year. I hope that the viewer will forgive the rather limited scope of the photographs that result.
I hopped in my rental car after landing in Terrace around 8PM and headed out on the highway towards New Aiyansh. I propped up the GPS on the dash, but paid more attention to the odometer; I knew I had at least 60km to cover before I got close. The miles flew by, and I experienced every form of precipitation alternately as I drove along; snow, sleet, showers, torrential rain, and everything in between. Fortunately, as I got nearer the point, the precipitation tapered off and even stopped. I had to stop the car a few times to check the GPS, and compare with the odometer. After crawling down the road with the interior light on for the last few hundred meters, I came to a point where the GPS indicated the confluence was about 175m east of the road.
I stopped the car and got out to look around. I didn’t see very much, as it was absolutely and completely pitch black; no stars, no moon, no streetlights, nothing. I probed the darkness with my flashlight, and tried to take a few pictures, but they did not turn out; the flash has a very limited range (picture 5). I am certain that the area is very attractive, but I have no evidence to support this position at this time.
I geared up with my GPS in one hand, flashlight in the other, and camera hanging around my neck. I scrambled up the rather steep bank at the roadside and made my way through dead roadside vegetation for a little while – some sort of tall grass planted for slope stability. I looked up and saw two huge electrical transmission towers, and walked through the nicely cleared right-of way to the edge of the woods (picture 2). My GPS was reading less than 100m to the confluence, so I considered calling it a success and going back to the car, and to my nice warm hotel room, but something urged me on (stupidity, I guess).
I did up my jacket and started thrashing through the rather dense foliage, checking the GPS every few seconds to try to determine if I was going the right way. I scrambled over dead trees, under the densely interconnecting branches of live ones, jumped over little creeks, and just about broke my neck a few times trying to scramble along slippery logs. I used some of the local flora to assist me in climbing over trees and up steep slopes (picture 4). Some of the plants were more friendly than others; the willow trees were very nice, but the pine tends to scratch at the eyeballs, and the thorn bushes are not kind enough to advertise the fact that they are pointy until such time as you have a few hundred tiny thorns embedded in your hand.
I finally got to the point where I was only 8m away from the confluence. I stumbled around for a few more minutes, but every direction seemed to lead away from the confluence, so I left well enough alone, and took a few pictures of my very immediate surroundings (picture 1) and the GPS clutched in my cold pink hands (picture 3). The confluence is right next to a little creek, which I could hear, but not see. As the euphoria of success wore off, I came to realize that I was surrounded by a very dark, very wet, rather cold forest with an unknown quantity of ferocious animals lurking in it. I also realized that I had not told anyone where I was going, and also that I had neglected to program a waypoint into the GPS telling me how to get to my car.
After bumbling randomly through the woods for a while, it occurred to me that I had come from downhill, and also that water flows downhill, and that you can hear water even when you can’t see anything. I followed a creek back to the transmission line right-of-way, and walked straight back to my car. I hopped into my car, somewhat muddied and bloodied, but happy to know that I had made the most northerly successful confluence visit in BC – so far.