07-Jan-2001 -- Well, this is our latest confluence hunt, and in
our opinion, we believe that this is the most
effort ever put into finding a confluence point in the history of this
project. We had prepared maps for several confluence points in the
state, and we knew that this weekend was going to be a confluence
hunting weekend. We were leaning towards a double shot - we were
going to go this confluence, and after we had found it, we were going
to travel east to Phelps and hit another confluence as long as we
were so far up North. Well, that plan didn't happen unfortunately.
We knew from looking at topographical maps and street maps of
the area that the confluence point was going to be about 1.5km from
the nearest road. It ended up being 2km from where we parked,
because the road I planned on using to get us a little closer was not
plowed, and we couldn't drive on it. So back to the story. We decided
to make a weekend out of this. We borrowed snowshoes from a
sport shop, because we knew it was going to be
a long hike through deep snow. We got the tent ready, packed plenty
of warm clothes, food, a tent, and a small single burner stove. A healthy
supply of antifreeze was also packed with care (Irish Cream,
Spiced Rum) to stay warm by the fire.
We left on Saturday, a bit late in the afternoon. After a pretty
entertaining drive north towards Lac Du Flambeau (road trips are always
fun with friends, it seems) we reached Lac Du Flambeau, and continued
northwest on WI-47. The road we were going to turn off on was a really
small road, and it didn't have a sign on it either. We passed it the first
time, and had to turn around to hit it. This is where the adventure starts.
As you can see from the pictures, it wasn't really recommended to travel
this road in a conventional vehicle. But hey, we had four wheel drive so
we took it anyway. We didn't see any other vehicles on the road, except
for a few snowmobiles. And lots of caution tape.
We were trying to find another small side road off of this road that
would take us a little closer to the confluence, but it was completely
unplowed and we couldn't go on it. We were 2km from the confluence,
and we decided to go for it. We piled out of the truck, and strapped
ourselves into the snowshoes. We packed the food into our bags and
tied the sleeping bags on. I decided to use the advantage of a clear road
to get a reading with the GPS. I knew that we would be moving too slow
through the woods most of the time for it to be of any real use except to
tell us how far away we were. Thank god I did this, and thanks very
much to Silva for building such a high quality compass. I dialed the
bearing into my compass, and we hit the woods at around 4:30PM.
As you can imagine, it was already dusk, and complete darkness
fell pretty quickly. We were in the densest forest I have ever seen.
We used our flashlights, and had to check our compass' every
step or two to make sure we were still on course. It was very tough
hike, and our jackets were being vented within 20 minutes. After an
hour and half of hiking, we had covered a whole .66km of terrain.
We had wanted to camp on the confluence, but we knew that was
going to be impossible for the night. There was heavy cloud cover,
and the forest was so thick that we decided to make camp in a
clearing we found and hike to it the next day. I set up the
tent, and Noah got a roaring fire going in no time. We made dinner
over the fire, and quickly settled down into the aforementioned antifreeze
and entertaining conversation. We finally went to bed around
10:00PM, buried into our sleeping bags.
We woke up around 9:00AM the next day, our bodies having
made a nice impression in the snow underneath our tent. You think
getting out of a tent in the morning is a hassle in the summer? Try
15°F sometime. It wakes you up pretty quick. We got dressed,
warmed up, and started out towards the confluence using the
compass to keep on course and the GPS to tell us the distance.
This hike was tough! It took us almost two hours to hike the rest of
the distance to the confluence (about 1.5km). The terrain changed
often, from marsh and redbrush so thick you could barely move, to
fallen pine trees so big we almost needed climbing gear, to small
pines so thick that you could jump into them and not hit the ground.
Not one of us made the hike without falling over at least three or
four times, and we changed positions often as the snow was really,
really deep and the trailbreaker really had a lot of work to do. Finally,
when we were just about ready to drop over from exhaustion, we hit the
confluence. We all fell over into the snow to take a breather for
about 15 minutes. We took a few pictures, all too tired to really
smile much. Now we had to head back.
Although the trail was already broken, it didn't make it easy.
It was still really rough terrain, and took about 1.5 hours to get back
to camp. There, we made a quick lunch and broke camp. We sat
around for awhile, because none of us wanted to make the hike
back we were so tired (and we remembered how hard the hike was
the night before). But, we soon took off, and we made it a pretty
good pace. The food and the rest had helped, and this terrain was
a lot easier during the day time. After we made it to the truck, we
quickly headed off to the nearest place that would serve us warm
drinks and greasy hamburgers. We were planning on heading to
Phelps that day to find another confluence, but we were so tired we
decided to save it for another weekend. All in all, this adventure was
awesome! Camping in the snow, miles from the nearest city in the
middle of the forest in an Indian reservation, was one of the most
peaceful, serene, and beautiful things I have ever done in my life.
Although the hiking was hard, the sights and experiences that we
had are something we will treasure forever, and something that very
few people get to do.
You can check out more pictures of this hunt at