02-Jul-2009 -- In August of 2008 I had made an attempt at 50N 126W, but now it was time for a more serious try.
On July 2nd I again drove north from Victoria to Campbell River. I stopped at the Dolphins Resort to make the reservations for an annual trip later this year with some friends (this will be the 10th year for the trip, the 7th in a row staying at the Dolphins Resort). After that I drove North on Highway 19, and turned of onto the Menzies Main Forest Service Road.
I drove past the "48 KM" sign, to get to where I was stopped last year by the fallen trees across the road. I had prepared by bringing a chainsaw, but someone has cut the fallen trees back enough that a vehicle can now drive through. Not long after those trees there was another tree across the road, but again someone had cut enough to allow me to drive through (although I did do a bit of minor body damage to my truck).
Although I was able to drive as far up the road as a vehicle can drive, the road is quite overgrown in many places, and you will get your vehicle's paint scratched. There are places where 4WD is required. I was able to drive to within about 2.5KM (straight line distance) from the confluence, but vehicles, even quads, can't drive any further due to a stream that no longer has a bridge over it. I drove back about 300 metres to a nice camp spot where I made dinner.
The next morning it was already hot by the time I started walking up the road, which heads in the general direction of the confluence. If I had made an earlier start the temperature would have been more pleasant, but I'm glad I left when I did, because part way up the road I saw a herd of Elk next to the road, including one male.
From the end of the road, near the pass, I headed up through the clearcut and into the forest. I used a mixture of compass bearings and readings from the GPS to navigate towards the confluence. The combination of the forest canopy cover, GPS receiver technology, and GPS satellite geometry meant that the GPS receiver sometimes wasn't producing 'good' results. At one point, as I stopped to check the GPS reciever's readout, I "moved" from about 450 meters away to almost 120 meters from the confluence, then back to almost 500 meters away. The overall progress was reliable, but any individual GPS receiver reading had to be taken with a grain of salt.
As I approached the confluence I ended up gaining a bit of elevation, to avoid some steep rocky areas. It turned out that I 'arrived' at the confluence a bit too high up. My closest approach was 70 meters above the confluence. I took my photos from that spot, and then moved around a bit to see whether I should try and get lower, and closer to the confluence. I ruled that out, because of the steepness of the area below where I had hiked to. It may be better to approach the confluence area from slightly below the confluence elevation.
I headed back in more or less the direction I had used to approach the confluence. As I ran out of water on the way back (2 liters gone - it was a hot day!), it was just as well that I hadn't spent extra energy and time trying a second approach to the confluence. On the way there was a grouse that cooperated in staying in one place long enough for me to get a nice photo.
I ended up losing a bit too much elevation on my return hike, so I came out into the clearcut below the road. I did find some game trails that helped make it a bit easier to cross the clearcut. There is a small stream that crosses just before the end of the road, with it's own waterfall, although I was looking forward more to the cool water than the view. I used the water to cool down, not to drink, and had an orange before heading back down the road.
Part way down the road I saw the back end of a fairly large black bear disappear around a bend in the road. The bear was walking, and I don't think it knew I was behind it, as I was downwind. I stopped, both to get my camera out, and to have my bear spray and a 'bear banger' right at hand, just in case. It turns out that the back end of the bear was the last I saw of that bear, however, I did find fresh evidence that the back end of the bear had indeed been in the area ;-)