the Degree Confluence Project

Canada : Ontario

16.7 km (10.4 miles) N of Sellwood, ON, Canada
Approx. altitude: 441 m (1446 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreetMap topo topo250 ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 47°S 99°E

Accuracy: 10 m (32 ft)
Quality: good

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

#2: Cardinal North #3: Cardinal East #4: Cardinal South #5: Cardinal West #6: Sorry, underwater camera focal length stinks #7: Nick's Van #8: Nick Campsite #9: Time to freshen up

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  47°N 81°W  

#1: General Shot

(visited by TJ Parass and Nick Kalman)

07-Aug-2004 -- I’m not going to pretend this was an easy confluence to get to. It doesn’t help that I’m not in peak shape (far from it!) or that my adventure racing shoes completely failed.

I will say this, we had a great time and have walked away with a memory that will never be forgotten. Ok onto our trip …

Sometime around Mid-April – Here’s a snip-it of the conversation that took place that day.
TJ - “Hey, Nick saw this cool article on the web about how people are hiking to confluences and taking pictures of them and then uploading them on the web. What do you think?”
Nick – “Oh ya? Cool, let’s do it”

Well that pretty much highlights about as much thinking as we put into it before we left.

Sometime in Mid-June
Nick – “Hey we probably should get out for a hike or something, you know for that confluence thing?”
TJ – “Ya, we probably should.”

Our true desire to be in great shape for this trip.

August 4th, 2004 – Two days before departure.
We met at Nicks house today to go over the route and discuss what we needed to bring. After careful review of the maps and potential ways to attack this confluence we came to a quick conclusion that we were going to try and utilize as much of the existing trail system as possible and bushwhack the last bit.

I will say that we have had some experience in adventure racing. Enough to know two things:
• We will never remember what declination is and will have to figure it out each time we head off for one of these things.
• Don’t trust any map no matter how good it looks. Rivers can be streams and those busy beavers can change a dry area into a swamp in no time at all.

So the final route is to take an old logging road to what looks like an ATV trail under a Power line, hike that for 10km and then bushwhack the last 4 km to the Confluence and camp there for the night. The next day we were going to hike the route out.

August 5th 2004 – One day before Departure
Nick and I met at his place and went over our gear. Light light light was the motto. Don’t take anything you don’t need. We made sure our safety gear; bear spray, bear bells, mirror whistle, emergency radio, light sticks, first aid kit and emergency blanket were all packed. I already did the shopping for food and so we split the food into the packs. Nick graciously offered his VW Westfalia for the trip so we threw all the stuff into the Van.
I headed off home to program the GPS waypoints and do the final route planning. I put together the full route plan, GPS points and sent them to two friends that will know what to do if we don’t come back in time. Nick decided that he should get some extra training in by heading to the pub. The plan, get some good sleep tonight; we’re leaving at 5:00 am for a five hour drive.

August 6th, 2004 – Departure
5:00 am – Nick picked me up at my place. So far everything going well except neither of us slept that much. Oh well. Grab a couple of coffee’s and off we go. We have 500 km to drive today and want to do the hike into the confluence in this same day. After about 350 km I asked Nick, “Hey what’s the mileage on this van?”, Nick said “Not sure”. 15 km later we found out when we ran out of gas on the highway. Good thing Nick is a planner because he had already brought a spare filled gas can. We got going again, found a gas station and filled up the Van and our two spare gas cans.

11:00 am – We’ve reached Sudbury, nice city. The beginning point of our hike is about another hour North so after a brief stop we continue. Our first problem, no maps for this part, not a problem we know how to navigate don’t we? Well an hour later we managed to find the right direction and finally hit the logging road that was going to take us close the beginning of the hike. Now the plan was that we would take a logging road to another road that was about 6 km to the beginning of the hike.

12:30 pm – We turn onto the final road, only 6km to go! 200 meters in the road is a washout with deep groove and rocks.
TJ – “Too bad, I was hoping to not have to hike this part. Oh well let’s park and hike it”
Nick – “Forget that, we’re going for it.”
So I learned that the VW Van is more than just a cool camper and that Nick is a much better driver that me. In any event, we ended up working our way over a number of washouts and rock fields until even Nick had to concede he couldn’t get any further. 4 km of the 6 km was done. We park the Van and started the hike 2 km further away then we wanted to start. No problem only 16 km to go.

1:30 pm – Leave the van and off we go, 2 km of road to go. After about 1.5 km we reach another washout that’s under water and wow what a surprise, beavers did it. Nick takes one look and just walks straight through it. I decide to be the clever one, bushwhack around it, I refuse to start this thing with soaker. Two minutes later I find myself in bush so thick it takes me forever to get out and guess what, I’m forced to walk through the water.

2:00 pm – Our official beginning point. We’ve got about a 8 km to hike up a ATV trail that’s cut under a power line. It’s wide, it’s open, no bugs, so far so were pretty happy and we start put the kilometers on. We had already decided on cut-off times for our check points. If we weren’t at certain points by a given time then we would halt and camp for the night. After the first 10 km we reached our bushwhack entry point.

4:30 pm – Time to start the bushwhack.
Nick – “Hey it looks pretty thick, think we should enter the bush here?”
TJ – “Ya for sure, it will open up after 100 meters or so”
Famous last words. I will safely say that after 2 adventure races and much training I have never experienced bush so thick. Oh and now would be a good time to mention that the bugs found us at this point and they were hungry! Our plan is that we have 4 km to go, so at the worst it’s 1km per hour in this stuff so no problem we’ll make it.

5:30 pm – We’ve made 1 km and I’m tired, this bush is thick. We happen to stumble on what looks like an old trail. Not marked on any map. It seems to be heading in the general direction that we want to go. It didn’t take long to realize though that it was slowly turning away from the confluence. But who cares, it’s not bushwhacking!

6:30 pm – We’re not going to make it today and the last thing we want to do is hike at night in this. We decided to hike along the trail a little further until we ended up at a lake and a great spot for camping. We set up camp, made dinner and decided to get some sleep. Camp resided on Beresford lake, actually a very serene spot … except for the two loons that felt they owned the place. Nick got them all territorial when he made his loon call to them. In 2 minutes they had come to where we were camping and were making a racket. In addition we seemed to have encroached on a squirrels lair as he made it quite clear we should leave, guess he missed sharing in kindergarten. Nick had brought a collapsible fishing rod so he went down the lake put a lure on it and bang snagged a bass in the first cast! Catch and release. Wish we had a couple more days here.

9:00 pm – Our plan is get up a 5:00 am and get going. I put my head down and seem to remember Nick saying something but I was out like a light. Nick told me in the morning I was snoring, I guess he was trying to tell me I was snoring.

August 7th – Confluence day
8:00 am – So much for getting up at 5:00 am. A very cold night. We brew up some coffee, breakfast, strike camp and head off. Great place to stay a night, not a single human sound the whole time and I mean nothing, no planes, no cars, no other hikers, it’s actually quite an odd and fantastic experience.

9:00 am – On the trail again, back tracking our route from yesterday so we can get a little closer to the entry point to bushwhacking again. We decide to leave as much gear as we can and just hike the last 2 km as light as possible.

9:15 am – Back into the bush, same as yesterday, very thick and lots of bugs. Got to keep moving. We find another trail, cant really use it for long but maybe we can hook up with it to get out.

11:30 am – We arrive at the confluence we’re tired. We’ve made it! Oh hey, look the confluence it points to wait a sec … it’s in the bog on the lake. So our plan was to stop get some lunch enjoy our achievement but what actually happened was that we dropped our packs ran out on the floating bog, shot our pictures and ran back to our packs and left. You can blame our 10 minute visit on the bugs.

Confluence Description
The confluence 47N 81W resides at the edge of a small lake, bordering a shoreline bog. The lake is surrounded by rugged terrain and mature mixed forest, with a steep rise of rock overlooking the setting from the southwest. The remoteness and rising terrain around the perimeter of the area left us with the impression we were the 1st to experience the gentle pleasures the lake had to offer.

11:40 back into the bush, we’re heading back to our packs. We find that trail and decide to follow to see where it’s going. Well again we had to abandon it after a while as we were getting further away from our gear that we had left on another trail. Back into the bush .. getting tired of this.

2:00 pm – Ok we found our gear. Brief break. Now at this point we decided to follow the trail. It has to lead us back to the main power line ATV trail, it just has to … I don’t know if was merely the strength our wills but some how it eventually did pop us out to the ATV Power line trail. Just as we exited our found trail, (Nick dubbed it “Fat Toad Trail” due the Fat Toad we nearly stepped on.) we looked back and see a sign “Danger – Traps and Snares”. We’ve been hiking this thing for two hours and didn’t know it was a trappers trail!

4:00 pm – Back to the ATV Power line trail. It’s about this time that Nick starts to suggest that we stop for a swim at a lake about an hour down the trail and he makes it pretty clear that it’s time that I freshen up, even Nick has his limits and apparently that was when he decided I needed a shower

5:00 pm – 2 km down the trail and 8 km more to go to get back to the van. We stop for a great swim and I get a chance to change clothes.

5:30 pm – Back on the trail, my feet are starting to hurt and I’m slowing down. We keep moving, I know if I stop I won’t want to get up and we’ll end up camping another night.

7:00 pm – Ok we made it to the original start point and now we only have 2 km left to the Van. The longest 2 km of the trip in my opinion because of two reasons; my legs and feet had had it and being dusk we got the worst dose of bugs yet.

7:45 pm – We’re back to the Van. We made it! We get in and surprise Nick had hidden two icy cold beers for our arrival back. The best beer I’ve had in a long time!

8:00 pm – We drove out of the of the washout road and back to the logging road. About 20 minutes later we’ve found a nice camp spot near the river to stop for the night. I’m in full lock up and can hardly move. Nicks in much better shape so he sets up pretty much most of the camp, cooks dinner and we settle down for the night.

August 8th, 2004 – Going home
8:00 am – We’re up and we waste no time heading out to Sudbury for breakfast, call our wives, safety watchers. A drive home, Confluence complete.

Day 1 Tally – 13 km
Day 2 Tally – 19 km

 All pictures
#1: General Shot
#2: Cardinal North
#3: Cardinal East
#4: Cardinal South
#5: Cardinal West
#6: Sorry, underwater camera focal length stinks
#7: Nick's Van
#8: Nick Campsite
#9: Time to freshen up
ALL: All pictures on one page