24-May-2004 -- Thanks to a timely reminder from my brother Aaron Brumpton, my father Greg Brumpton and I decided to travel to the 49N90W confluence.
At 9:10 am EDT on Monday, May 24 2004, we left Thunder Bay. This date is a national holiday in Canada that honours Queen Victoria of England. As we left, the weather was 7 degrees Celsius with clear skies, which is cool for the time of year but great for hiking through the Boreal forest without a trail. The temperature rose to 13 degrees Celsius during our trip.
This was an optimum time of the year to visit this confluence for several reasons: the deciduous trees had just started to leaf out which made navigation much easier, the mosquitoes and black flies were still not out in full force, and the roads had dried from the spring thaw and were therefore quite passable.
We knew this confluence would be in a typical Boreal forest ecosystem but the specific details of the forest conditions were unknown. Most of the area has been logged at least once over the last century. The forest condition could have ranged from recently cut, to nearly impenetrable immature second growth, to old growth forest.
Geologically the Achean rocks of the largest Precambrian craton surround this confluence. It is located in the Arctic Watershed but very close to the boundary of the St. Lawrence Watershed. It is also on the boundary between the Eastern and Central Time Zones.
To reach this confluence we traveled west on the Trans Canada Highway through Kaministiquia to Shabaqua where the highway heads north before again swinging west. Approximately 6 km west past the small hamlet of Raith, we turned north again on the Dog River Road. We traveled for 11 km on this road and stayed left at main intersections. Along the way we encountered a red fox, a one-year old black bear cub as it darted across the road and passed the Wolf Tree ecological site with its display boards and trail signs. This major wood-hauling road with its large fast moving trucks carried us to the Hawkshaw Lake Road where we turned and proceeded west for approximately 4 km.
This area is heavily logged to supply wood to Thunder Bay forest product mills. It has been carefully replanted and a new crop of coniferous trees is growing in abundance. A large grove of mature white pine trees along the Hawkshaw Lake Road was a beautiful and pleasant surprise. These trees are never cut in this region because of a centuries old law that preserves them for the masts of sailing ships.
We parked on the road at 90:00:04 W. At first we proceeded through an open and recently replanted cutover area of smaller trees. We moved north and east to avoid the thickest vegetation and came to a boulder strewn gravel ridge. From the ridge we navigated through very dense natural second growth with numerous wind fallen trees. The wind fallen trees are probably the result of storms that moved across Muskeg Lake located just to the west of the confluence. At around 11:30 am CDT we found the site and took a series of photographs.
We returned more or less the way we came and after a short stop at Raith, we arrived back in Thunder Bay at 2:57 pm EDT.