In 2001, while processing Brian Butler's visit to
I became aware of the
group, where people discuss political boundaries, and points where multiple
political divisions meet(e.g countries, states, provinces, counties, etc.).
In 2002, while planning a 'confluence hunting trip' I had noticed that
49°N 117°W was near the 'tripoint' where the boundary between
the states of Idaho(ID) and Washington(WA) meets the Canada/USA border at British Columbia(BC).
My visit to 49°N 117°W on that trip ended as
incomplete, and I didn't try to
find the BCIDWA tripoint.
In 2004, in preparation for another attempt to visit 49°N 117°W, I
did some further research on the location of the BCIDWA tripoint. My research,
and information provided by others, is documented in
this message thread
from the BoundaryPoint group.
On July 15, 2004 I left Vancouver, B.C. and drove East. 9 hours 20 minutes and 720
kilometers later, I was at the summit of Kootenay Pass(the highest year-round highway
pass in Canada), on highway 3, between
Salmo and Creston. The first visitors
mention initially trying a logging road that was blocked by snow, and on the
map from visit #3 you can see that
the skiing route initially followed this same road. The road is called Stagleap
Forest Service Road, and starts at highway 3, immediately to the West
of the maintenance yard, as shown in the Ripple
Ridge Cabins info I provided with the narrative for my prior attempt.
On the topographic map and
landsat image the start of this
road is marked by the "START" waypoint.
From highway 3, I drove up the Stagleap FSR. There are signs at the start
that the road has been deactivated, and is not maintained. I have a 4-wheel
drive truck, and didn't have any problems getting up the road, but of course there
was no snow. At the crest of the road is a sign for the boundary of
Park, as well as the sign for the Ripple Ridge Trail. A little further along the
road is the short trail to the Ripple Ridge Cabin. I parked there, and walked a
short distance to the new cabin - the old cabin has been demolished. The cabin is
quite nice, and has a nice view.
After walking back to my truck, I proceeded downhill from this point on the road.
There has been recent logging activity in the area, so this downhill road was in much
better condition than the uphill portion, and may in fact not even be considered to be
Stagleap FSR. I continued downhill,
passing a branch road to the East labelled Spur #15. Eventually, after passing through
numerous water bars, and shortly after passing under the power lines, I met up with a
'main' gravel road. The road I had just descended was labelled Spur #14. I believe this
'main' gravel road is Monk Creek FSR.
I turned right(to the West) on this main road, following it towards Ripple Mountain.
After passing under the power lines twice more, and heading uphill, I turned left
onto a rougher road that had signs indicating it had been deactivated. If you miss
this turnoff you will soon come to a crest on the 'main road', and start heading
downhill. A "deavtivated" forest service road is a gravel road where there is
usually no maintenance, and manmade structures such as bridges and culverts have
been removed. In their place are 'cross-ditches' or 'water bars' to allow water,
whether it be streams or runoff from rain or melting snow, to flow across the
road, rather than randomly along the road, which tends to washout the roads.
It was almost 7:30PM by this time, so I didn't have any plans to get to the
confluence today, but I wanted to check out the area before camping for the night.
I drove past one junction with a road that headed south, and continued towards the East.
Just before a fork in the road I came to a fairly deep dip in the road, where
there used to be a bridge over a stream. This is, I believe, the location of the
"raging mountain stream" mentioned by the first visitors. There wasn't much
water in the stream, so I was able to drive through the dip, using 4 wheel drive
in low range.
At the fork in the road, the branch to the left heads uphill and ends at
a clearing. The branch to the right heads slightly downhill, and then is
blocked by a tree that has fallen across the road. I walked down that road
until it also ended. I then drove back to the first junction on this deactivated
road system, and turned South. The road comes to a point where it becomes
overgrown. I parked my truck at this point, and made camp for the night.
After having breakfast and packing up my camping stuff into my truck, I hiked
south along the overgrown road. It curves around towards the east, crosses
a stream where there used to be a bridge, then heads south. Parts of this
road are very overgrown, while other parts are easy to walk on. A little ways
after crossing the stream, there is another overgrown section, and then the
road ends. I continued towards the border, following parts of old skidder
trails from when the area was logged many years ago.
After about 30 minutes, I arrived at the Canada/USA border vista(a 6 metre wide
swath that is maintained all along the border). Because I was using my GPS
to "goto" a waypoint that I had created that was supposed to be the location
of the British Columbia/Idaho/Washington(BCIDWA) tripoint, as I stepped out
of the bush into the vista, I immediately saw
the monument marking BCIDWA.
I spent some time looking at the monument, taking pictures, and recording
the information on the markers in case it didn't show up properly in my pictures.
The picture of the monument
is looking north, and shows the
US Geological Survey brass cap on top,
and at the base of the monument the
US General Land Office brass cap and the
LSAW Historical Society plaque.
The yellow plastic marker stake was lying on the ground, so I placed it next
to the monument. It dates from July 3, 1998, when Delores & Denny DeMeyer
found the monument as part of the planning by the Land Surveyors’ Association
of Washington(LSAW) to commemorate the
Washington-Idaho Boundary Survey
of 1873. The U.S. Geological Survey brass cap is dated 1909. The U.S. General
Land Office brass cap is dated 1925. The LSAW Historical Society plaque was placed
on September 13, 1998, and bears the coordinates of the center of the USGS brass
cap on top of the monument. I placed my GPS(Garmin etrex Venture),
using an external amplified re-radiating antenna, at the center of the USGS brass
cap, and recorded 43 trackpoints over 3 minutes 27 seconds. Averaging the trackpoint
positions gave a result that differred from the LSAW plaque latitude/longitude
coordinates by 4.4 meters, which is typical of the sort of accuracy found in
consumer-grade GPS receivers.
The Professional Surveyor Magazine article,
Washington-Idaho Boundary Survey of 1873 tells the interesting story of the
original boundary survey, and how it fell short of reaching the Canada/USA border.
The story of the 1998 commemoration of the 1873 survey also makes for interesting
From the top of the monument I took a picture
looking west along the boundary vista.
Although it can't be seen in the photo, i could see something bright on the top of
the ridge in the distance - likely Canada/USA boundary marker 194 shining in the sunlight.
The photo looking east from the BCIDWA
monument shows the boundary vista as well. I walked up the hill, where it levels
off before descending the other side of the ridge. At the top is Canada/USA boundary
marker 195, where I took pictures looking
looking west and
looking east. Although I couldn't
see it, Canada/USA boundary marker 196 should be located at the top of the ridge
seen in the distance to the east. The 49°N 117°W degree confluence
is located in the distance, to the left(north) of the boundary vista. The nearby lake
is hidden by a ridge.
After spending some time at the area of the monuments, I walked back to my truck.
I then drove north, then east, back to the area I had scouted the prior evening,
and after driving through the stream again, I took the fork to the left,
and parked at the clearing. The first visitors to this confluence stated that
they had parked at the stream, then headed south until they reached the border
vista, then followed the vista east towards the confluence area. My plan was to
head in a 'straight line' from my truck to the confluence.
For the benefit of future visitors, I'd suggest not using my planned approach.
The first part was quite easy, walking through an area that had been logged
many years ago. However, after that there was more vegetation, because the
area had not been logged, and it became steep. I needed to keep changing
directions to work my way up the slope, past various cliffs. One advantage
was that I ended up on a ridge, with a view over the valley to the west
and the mountains. I knew I was higher than the confluence, so I started
heading down the slope towards the confluence. I then discovered that I
was out of water. Despite being in the mountains, the temperatures had
been quite hot in BC lately, and it was probably close to 30°C. Shortly
after this discovery, my hiking pole broke, and I wasn't at the confluence
Getting from the ridge down to the confluence wasn't easy. It was quite
steep in places, and I had to be carefull not to slip and end up sliding
down the slope. I ended up at what I think is the top of the rock outcropping
that the first visitors refer to. As my GPS was reading
49°00'00"N 117°00'00.2"W I figured I was close enough. The photos
to the North and
West give some sense of
the steepness of the area.
The hike back to the truck wasn't easy. I tried to work my way around the
ridge, gradually losing elevation, but many times had to take a zig-zag
course. In addition, I was getting dehydrated. Eventually I got back to
the easier area, and then to the truck. It's probably much easier to
get to the confluence by making use of the boundary vista.
On the Toporama topographic map
the tracklogs for my hikes are shown in black. The blue tracklogs show the
roads. Although they do not always match the roads drawn on the Toporama
map images, my tracklogs show the actual road locations. The same tracks
are shown on the Landsat7
satellite image from the
year 2000. My recorded tracklogs line up exactly with
the roads shown on the satellite image. The cursor arrow shown on this
image is pointing to the lake shown in the photo looking SouthWest from