13-Feb-2001 -- We approached our second confluence with a little more confidence (see
N50 W99). We still did not know what to expect in terms of
terrain. We also were not sure how far the point would be from a plowed road. When we studied
the Mapquest.com map of the immediate area we realized that there were location names in a
straight line that intersected the confluence point -- names like: Justice, Brandon North, Knox,
Smart, Levine and Daly Beach. We were encouraged by the thought of having a mile-road lead us
directly to the point. We assumed these location names in a line meant mile-road.
On the previous day's visit to N50 W99, my sister-in-law's feet got very cold. Her old boots
were not holding up to the arctic Canadian cold. On our way to the confluence we stopped in
Glenboro, MB to pick her up some new winter SOREL boots.
After heading north and passing through Brandon (Manitoba’s second largest city), we
continued further north on Highway 10. Continuing to monitor the GPS unit we noticed that
immediately after we passed under a railroad trestle we obtained a reading of N50. A sign for
"Brandon North" helped us realize that the line of location names was not a mile-road
but a freight railway line.
About one half-kilometer north of the railway underpass, we came across a mile-road. Turning
west we could still see the tree line which marked the north side of the freight railway line. At
one point we headed south toward the railway line. Near the railroad crossing and standing
outside in the cold we took a reading showing that we were still 1.3 kilometers east of the
confluence. After about a 12-point "k-turn" on the narrow dirt road, we retraced our
tracks north to continue on west to the next mile road. Even though the snow transition between
the road and field appears flat, the ditch that usually lines the road can be several feet deep -- getting
stuck in a ditch would not move us closer to documenting the confluence!
The next mile-road was actually past the W100 line, but we were closing in on our target. As
we drove south we noticed large plow piles of snow in the fields. It seemed almost as if the farmers
had plowed dirt bike racing tracks in their fields. I learned from my father-in-law (a Manitoba potato
grower) that this is done by the farmers to stop the wind and snowdrifts from eroding the soil and
blocking access on the roads. The desired effect is similar to that of a snow fence.
Right before we reached the railroad crossing we noticed that we had again crossed the N50
line. We were pleased to find a plowed driveway running parallel the railway line back toward the
east. At the end of the driveway we saw an old aqua-colored pickup truck submerged halfway in
snow. As we inched down the driveway we looked for signs of someone being home. I turned the
car around in the drive and showed my mother-in-law where our copy of the
Landowner Letter was located. If someone where to return home, we wanted to be able to explain
what we were doing in their driveway.
As we were getting out of the car to put our snowshoes on, we heard the sound of the train
whistle coming from the east. We rushed to get our cameras to take some pictures (see picture #5).
In seconds a large Canadian National freight train whistled by carrying mostly double stacked
TOFCs (Trailers on Flatcar).
In our snowshoes, my sister-in-law and I headed out toward the railroad tracks to find the
confluence (see picture #4). We turned east before the tracks and joked about how the powerline
poles sank into the ground. At one point my right snowshoe hit an "anmana" -- an Inuit
word to describe the "space formed between [a snow] drift and [the] obstruction causing it*" --
and I almost lost my footing. We were walking between a snowdrift and the embankment of the
After taking another reading we realized that we were south of the confluence point, so we
marched up the snowdrift, beyond the tree line and onto a field. The field was actually in the
backyard of the folk's house on whose driveway we had parked our car. Back in the car my
wife, who stayed with our 16-month-old daughter, was radioing us joking about lost keys
(see N50 W99).
We finally found the confluence. To the west was a small house with a large fuel tank and
snow covered pickup truck in its yard. To the south was the freight railway line. To the north was
a stand of brush and trees. To the east was a snow-covered field. After taking the necessary
pictures we headed back to the car.
We thought it would be good to leave a copy of the Landowner Letter with a note as an
explanation of the snowshoe tracks... In our search for the confluence, we had managed to
leave quite a few on their property.
*Pruitt, W. O., Jr., "Snow and Living Things."