the Degree Confluence Project

Canada : Northwest Territories

294.0 km (182.6 miles) ENE of Reliance, NT, Canada
Approx. altitude: 198 m (649 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap topo topo250 ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 64°S 76°E

Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Facing north, with bugs. #3: Facing south. #4: Facing west. #5: Ron, Walter, and Emma.  Facing southeast. GPS insert. #6: Another GPS showing position, time, and altitude. #7: On the hike back to camp by the river in the distance.

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  64°N 104°W  

#1: The confluence and view facing east, with bugs.

(visited by Craig Walker, Emma, Walter Brisken and Ronald Thomas)

12-Aug-2004 -- During August of 2004, a group of 6 of us canoed the Thelon River in Canada's Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The river is located about 300 miles northeast of Yellowknife and is accessed by charter aircraft on floats. It runs through the Thelon Game Sanctuary, a haven for large herds of caribou and significant numbers of muskox. Along the river, there are pockets of trees in a region that is otherwise well north of the continental tree line. We ran the 160 mile section of the river between the confluence with the Hanbury River and the Thelon Bluffs over a period of 2 weeks. The group was Walter Brisken, Emma Goldberg, Ron Thomas, and I(Craig Walker) from Socorro, New Mexico, USA, and Jan and Rich Roenisch from near High River, Alberta, Canada.

We had heard of the confluence project before the trip and noticed that the river would come within about 3 miles of the 104W 64N confluence, so we thought we might try to reach it. A quick check of the web site showed it had not yet been visited - nor had any others for a large distance an any direction.

Our charter flights originated in Yellowknife. The flights to the Thelon are very long so, to save on charter costs, we rented canoes that were prepositioned at the river. Those canoes obviously lead a hard life, but this section of river is not difficult so that was not much of an issue. Our logistical arrangements were made through Great Canadian Ecoventures in Yellowknife. One has to be flexible on these northern trips. One of the two flights that it took to get all of us to the river was the day after planned and the pickup flight was also delayed by a day.

We planned to canoe on approximately 8 days and hike or rest on the others. Some of the best potential hiking is in the area were we started the trip so we spent an extra day there visiting Warden's Cabin and the hills behind. The cabin, or rather cabins, are left over from a short period when there actually was a resident warden in the Thelon Game Sanctuary. We had a rest day half way through the trip - preplanned, but also enforced by high winds. At the end of the trip, we got to the takeout location a day early as insurance against having an uncanoeable day at the end. We intended to hike from there but ended up not going far, partly because there was a grizzly bear wandering the area.

The hike to the confluence happened early in the trip. We arrived at the place where the river comes closest to the confluence about midday on Aug 12 in decent weather. There was a good campsite there so Walter, Emma, Ron, and I decided to go for it. Our maps (1:250,000) showed a lake wrapping part way around the point. We knew we could get close, but we weren't sure we could get across the lake without going a long way around, or taking a canoe. The hike started with a climb of a few hundred feet out of the river valley, and then a few miles of walking along a broad ridge and over tundra around some small lakes. The bugs were moderately intense, typical for this part of the world in the summer. Fortunately the lake near the confluence was really two lakes with a shallow stream between and we were able to cross and get to the point where our 3 GPS units indicated the magic location to be. There we took photos of the area and of the GPS receivers with most or all zeros.

In hindsight, it is clear that doing this trip earlier in the season would be much preferred. We saw some animals including 2 bear, a wolf, 3 moose, a wolverine (a first for most of us), an ermine, a few caribou and various birds including bald eagles, swans, cranes, geese and terns. We saw no muskox. Compared to what parties normally see earlier in the season, this is not much. In addition, after moderately warm weather for the first few days, the rest of the trip was cold, windy, and wet. If I were to do the trip again, I would try to do it in mid July. Unfortunately this year, other commitments made that impossible. The one flip side of going earlier is that the bugs can be intense in warmer weather, as we experienced early in the trip.

The photos start with the view facing east from the confluence and also showing the confluence. The next 3 photos are the views north, south, and west from a spot roughly 20 feet west of the confluence. These directions are close but might not be exact as we were not actually aware of the photo requirements. Ron happened to get almost exactly what was needed. Then there is a photo showing Ron, Walter, and Emma at the confluence, marked by where the packs were dropped. The inset photo of Walter's GPS shows "all zeros" and a 6m error indication. The next photo is of my GPS on a page with time and elevation in addition to position. The GPS's were on WGS84 for the confluence, although I used NAD27 Canada for the rest of the trip to match our maps. The final photo was taken on the walk back along broad ridges and past lakes to the river, seen in the distance, where our camp was located. It gives more of an idea of what the country is like.

For some more photos from the trip, see http://www.aoc.nrao.edu/~cwalker/photos/Thelon04/index.html/

 All pictures
#1: The confluence and view facing east, with bugs.
#2: Facing north, with bugs.
#3: Facing south.
#4: Facing west.
#5: Ron, Walter, and Emma. Facing southeast. GPS insert.
#6: Another GPS showing position, time, and altitude.
#7: On the hike back to camp by the river in the distance.
ALL: All pictures on one page
In the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary.