10-Aug-2001 -- After a fairly successful "hunt" yesterday we had plans to do a further three confluences in northern Saskatchewan today - this one,
N54° W108° and
N53° W107°. We headed north from Lloydminster along Highway 17, the highway that follows along W110°, then veered off to the northeast towards Loon Lake. This town takes its name from the black and white water bird with its legendary white necklace and plaintive cry - the quintessential symbol of northern wilderness. The welcoming sign at the edge of Loon Lake, featuring a loon, refers to the town as the "playground of the north". Nearby is Makwa Lake Provincial Park with its campgrounds, resorts, beaches, hiking trails, golfing and fishing, surrounded by hills and boreal forests.
We passed a herd of privately owned bison on the way to Loon Lake. On several occasions throughout our travels in Saskatchewan we'd passed herds of bison. This time the bison were close to the fence along highway so we took the opportunity to take some pictures. At one time 60 million bison roamed free in North America. The Native Americans used bison as a source of food, clothing, shelter and religious worship. By the late 1800's the white man arrived and the slaughter began. Thousands were killed for only their hides (to wear) or tongues (to eat) then left to rot in the hot prairie sun. Bison were on the brink of extinction. Thanks to private individuals who raise bison and some public herds there now approximately 350,000 head throughout North America.
We left Loon Lake to find the confluence. A short drive on Highway 304 brought us near the spot. A farm looked like the best approach so we drove into the farmyard and Alan went to the door. Despite a dog there to greet him and a light on in the porch, no one answered the front or back door. Plan "B" went into effect. This plan involved parking along the grid road just west of the farm and approaching the spot from behind the farm. We set out only to be stopped by a stand of very tangled trees with a muddy swampy stream running through it. Back to the farm! Still no one seemed to be home - only the friendly little dog to greet us again. Our only chance was to trespass through the big farm yard and head out into the field. We left the van in the shade of some trees at the entrance to the farm with the letter of permission as well as a hand written note on the windshield. Off we headed through the farm yard out past the chicken coop and out buildings into the field. We followed tractor tracks and the fence line until we reached the confluence 652 meters from our vehicle. We quickly took pictures expecting at any time to see the farm owners looking for us. They did not appear. We got back to our van and quickly drove off. They'll never know we were there, unless of course they read this and recognize their farm!
Years ago, homesteaders cleared the land of some of the boreal forest to create farmland, so despite being in the north and hoping for forested regions, this confluence was in the middle of a big grain field like so many others in Saskatchewan. Time to move on to