During August 2003 I drove through British Columbia and into the
Northwest Territories on a combined confluence hunting and sightseeing trip.
I started close to 49°N and went as far North as 61°N, covered
6,200 kilometers (3,850 miles), did 7 successful confluence visits, and
had another 12 confluences that are incomplete. I made
a map that shows the route,
and the confluences in the order they were done, with the successful ones
shown with black markers. The incomplete visits are a mix of actual attempts
and situations where I drove somewhat close to the confluence, and included
a 'visit' as a way to document the confluence location for future visitors.
The first confluence on the trip was
15-Aug-2003 -- After my incomplete visit to
58°N 122°W I continued north along
the Alaska Highway (Highway 97) to Fort Nelson. I went to the Fort Nelson vistor
center to ask about the roads, as the forestry map showed two possible roads
leading where I wanted to go. I was informed that I had only one choice, as
one of the roads was a winter road, and it can't be accessed until the Fort Nelson
River freezes over.
I drove back down the highway, and south of Fort Nelson turned east
onto Clarke Lake Road. The turnoff is near the Kal Tire store, and there was a sign
for the Helmut Oil Field, which is one of the largest gas and oil fields in northern Canada.
From this point on, all roads are gravel.
After the road goes downhill for a while, it crosses the Fort Nelson River via a
shared use bridge that carries both vehicle
and rail traffic. I had to wait for oncoming traffic before I could cross, and the
last pickup truck stopped and told me that if I hurried, I would see the bear that
was swimming across the river. By the time I was far enough onto the bridge to get
a view, the bear had reached the riverbank, and once out of the water, it shook off
the water, and proceeded up into the bush. I wasn't able to get any photos.
The road continues, and I don't know exactly where, but it becomes the "Sierra Highgrade".
The road heads generally east, then to the northeast, and services the Sierra, Yoyo, and
Helmut oilfields. According to a
fact sheet, "The Sierra
Yoyo Desan (SYD) Road is a 188 kilometre multi-user resource road located northeast of
Fort Nelson. Although the road is open to the public, it is primarily used by resource
companies for industrial activities. The SYD Road is currently operating under a partnership,
established in 1998, between industry and government, with companies paying for the use of
the road.". Part of an
upgrade project will add
a bridge across the Fort Nelson River, to be used instead of the shared use bridge.
About 155 kilometers from the turnoff at the Alaska Highway, the SYD Road crosses 59°N
(Waypoint 046), 4.72km from the confluence. I drove until the road crossed 121°W
(Waypoint 047), 2.14km from the confluence. I turned around and went back a bit, and parked
on the side of the road at its closest approach, 2 kilometers from the confluence.
Where the forest started, there was a
cutline that was in the exact direction of the
confluence. I started out by following this cutline, which made the walking fairly easy,
along with the fact that the muskeg was fairly dry, meaning that each step only sank into
the mossy groundcover by about 4-5 inches.
After intersecting with a couple of other cutlines, the one I was following ended. From there
I headed in the general direction of the confluence, making adjustments as required, such
as going around areas of denser bush, or following
The tracklog on the
satellite image shows my closest approach to the
confluence, at 743 meters. It had taken about 40 minutes to reach that point, but I was now
at the edge of a swamp, with no obvious path. In addition, the bugs were bad, and it was
after 5PM. I didn't know if there was a practical way to get through or around the swamp,
and I also knew that there was nowhere along the SYD road that I wanted to camp for the
night, so I decided to turn around, and call this visit incomplete.
Once back at the car, I left just after 6PM, and was back at the Alaska Highway at about
8:30PM. Along the way I stopped to take a picture of a
drilling rig. One of these was being constructed
just off the SYD road, about 1 kilometer west of where I parked by the cutline. Because the
road is gravel, and it was dry, with the amount of traffic on the road, including large
trucks, it can be extremely difficult to see due to the dust. It is almost impossible
to pass slow trucks, because not only can you not safely get close enough to pass, the
trucks cannot see you behind them so they can slow down to let you pass. I also took a
the reason why there is a small bridge along
the road called "Beaver Bridge".
I got back to Fort Nelson just before 9PM, and as I hadn't had dinner, I decided to
get a motel room for the night, have a shower, get some pizza, and relax.
The next confluence on this trip was