28-Jun-2003 -- It was the Canada Day long weekend and instead of watching fireworks, relaxing and going to the cottage, we chose the fun option: getting eaten alive by a variety of bloodthirsty insects, living off canned chili, and avoiding personal hygene of any sort . Of course we are talking about a Northern Quebec confluence hunt.
We headed out on Friday night and drove straight through until we reached the thriving metropolis of Pembroke, Ontario at around 2:30am. Thinking we were almost there, we headed down a small gravel road in Paul's 2002 Celica (a fine offroading vehicle). For the next hour we carefully (and sometimes unsuccessfully) navigated around boulders, ruts, puddles, and narrow land bridges before getting to within 5 km of the confluence. We lucked upon a small path that might have been the logging road mentioned in the last attempt. We rapidly set up the tent amidst a veritable cloud or ravenous mosquitoes. Jay advised a shot of vinegar to ward off the pests. It may or may not have worked because we jumped in the tent and slept until the sun broiled us awake in the morning.
We started out on the hike at around 8:30 on the 28th and were quite happy to find the trail led straight to the confluence... or so we thought. It ended at a trappers cabin still about 3.5 km away. With two GPS units going, we headed straight into the densest forest on earth. At points it felt like we were swimming because of the motion of our arms moving branches out of the way. Luckily after about a km of this we found another path running perpendicular to our prefered direction. Following this path slowly led us to within 1.5 km before it ended at a hunting blind. We were once again feeling good and were about 350m away when we happened upon a major swamp. Thanks to Canada's national animal, our friend the beaver, we had to veer drastically off course and traverse his crumbling creation in order to get to the other side, a few soakers adding to the fun. Once across, our spirits were again renewed until we broke through the forest to find a 60 foot drop. Some nimble footwork and a few risky jumps got us to the bottom of the cliff.
Now to narrow down the search. Even with two GPS units going, the bug presence was enough for us to mix up our east and west... literally. We knew we were close, but all agreed that we had to head west...back up the 60 foot cliff. We got to the top and realized that west was actually the other way, and once again descended the 60 foot cliff. We got our pictures and headed up the 60 foot cliff again and trekked it back to the car. All in all it was a hot, sweaty, bug bitten, knee scraping, tree cursing, 4 hour hike.
That night we camped in Pembroke and mingled with the locals meeting a few colorful characters. If anyone asks, those three yellow hat-toting city folk named Jaque, Jean-Paul and Jean-Claude were acually yours truly incognito. Anyone thinking of visiting Pembroke should stop by the Riverside Pub and give our regards to Kelly, Nicky, and Ashley.