14-Jul-2002 -- Confluences north of 51 degrees on the coast of British Columbia tend to be very remote and difficult to access. This confluence was no exception and is difficult to locate, but well worth the trip.
The minimum time required to get to the location and back is 6-7 days as there are no roads on the northern coast of British Columbia. The expedition left from Vancouver via a 25-foot powerboat for a journey up the Georgia Straight between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The trip up the coast turned out to be 3 days, due to some bad weather in Johnson Straight and difficulty in locating fuel in these remote areas. Late in the afternoon on the third day we departed from Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island to cross Queen Charlotte Sound on the final leg of the marine portion of the journey. It was late on Saturday afternoon and there were several cruise ships passing on their return trip from Alaska.
Several miles out we encountered Humpback Whales passing through the area. A pod of porpoises playfully swam along side the boat for several minutes. The wind was blowing hard from the north and the trip was slow and uncomfortable as we were heading for the mainland side of the Queen Charlotte Sound and searching for the entrance to Wells Passage that would lead to Drury Inlet, a long narrow inlet that would take us 20 miles inland and within 10 miles of the confluence. We were running out of daylight as we were nearing the head of the inlet and were forced to drop anchor a few miles short of our destination. It was too dark and difficult to navigate the narrow Inlet that is riddled with marine hazards.
Arriving Sunday morning at the head of the inlet to our great surprise was an abandoned floating logging camp that is submerged on the bunkhouse side. The group started out with hiking gear for the trek into the forest in search of the confluence. It was unknown how far the old logging roads would take us through the thick forest. The ground was littered with bear droppings creating a feeling of uneasiness while walking through the remote area wondering where the bears were. Armed with air horns and a can of bear mace we put thoughts of the bears out of our minds and forged on to the confluence. After a 4-hour hike following the old road, which we carefully marked for the return trip, we were finally near the confluence. To our dismay the logging road veered off in the opposite direction. Our only choice to find the confluence is down a steep embankment through the thick forest and underbrush. At the bottom of the embankment was a large lake.
We were within 8 seconds of the confluence and determined to get to 51 North 127 West. We abandoned our gear at the edge of the lake for what we thought must be the final leg of the journey. We took the GPS and camera and swam to a small island not too far off shore. Once on the island, however, we were still 5 seconds from the confluence. Not close enough for this group to say they conquered the confluence.
The next challenge was how to navigate the GPS onto the lake without equipment. A small raft was constructed of sticks and string and the GPS was enclosed inside a waterproof food packet in order to float it onto the lake. Straws were drawn by each member of the group, Dave and Jeremy won the task of swimming out into the lake with the GPS raft to locate the exact point of the confluence.
While Dave and Jeremy were searching for the confluence in the lake, a rustling in the bush surprised Don and Michael. A large black bear rambled towards them only to be scared off with several loud blasts from one of the air horns.
Once the party was back together, the weary group made the long walk back to the boat at the head of Acteon Inlet.
We returned back to Vancouver after a fun filled expedition that spread out over 6 days, involved 33 hours boating that consumed over 1,290 liters of gas. We would highly recommend this trip for any one looking to explore a very remote area abundant in wild life and oozing with adventure.