31-Jul-2002 -- On Tuesday, July 30th, 2002 at 12:30PM I departed Vancouver on a confluence hunting trip
to southeastern British Columbia. My general plan was to try and visit some confluences
in the "corner of BC" near Cranbrook.
I drove east on Highway 3, and stopped near Manning
Park, where there had been a forest fire last year. Earlier this year I had been to this
burnt area looking for Morel mushrooms, but didn't have much luck. I wanted to see if I
could find some more Morels, but some people in the area told me that, probably due to
a lack of rainfall, that burnt area never did produce many Morels. After taking a quick
look for myself, I continued on my way.
After stopping for dinner in Princeton, at 8:44PM I found a spot to camp
next to Johnstone Creek West road, off of the road to Conkle Lake Provincial Park,
between Bridesville and Rock Creek.
The next morning I drove to the Rock Creek County Store(which also has a PetroCan
gas station), and made a phone call to see if I could reach Bill Harpur, the ranch
owner mentioned in visit #2.
There was no answer, so armed with directions from the helpfull people in the store,
I drove to the Harpur ranch, which is at the end of Myncaster road.
Beside the road there were some people working in a field, so I asked where I
could find Bill Harpur, and was told he was working somewhere near the farm buildings.
As I drove further, a tractor was coming the other way on the road, so I stopped to
ask where Bill might be. It turned out that it was him driving the tractor!
I spoke to Bill about the project, and asked for permission to cross his land.
He said that if I drove right to the end of the road I would come to a locked gate
in a fence that runs along the Canada/USA border, and I could park there. He explained
that it was actually on his neighbor's property, and they were not around that day, but
he was sure they wouldn't mind. He also gave me permission to cross his property.
Bill suggested that I stay on the Canadian side of the fence along the border to
avoid any trouble. It seems that the area sometimes gets used by people trying to
smuggle drugs across the border, so it is 'monitored' by both Canadian and US officials.
From my parking spot at the "border gate" I took the same route to the confluence
as the people in visit #2. There
were a couple of barbed-wire fences to cross. I believe the first is the boundary of
Bill's neighbor's property, and the second separates some of Bill's cropland from land
used for cattle grazing.
Right near the border monument there were a
couple of cows in the pasture on the US side of the border fence. At least I think
they were "just cows". A bit further on, as I started to hike up the slope of the hill,
a bird(eagle/osprey?) started circling directly above me, making erie cries. At least I
think it was "a bird". Shortly after that I came across the bones of an animal
that had died just on the US side of the border fence. At least I think they were
"animal bones". As I arrived at the confluence a helicopter flew by overhead. Was it
possible that the "cows" and the "bird" were actually high-tech 'gadgets' being used by
the US to patrol their border? Were those really the bones of an animal, or maybe those
of an unlucky smuggler caught on the US side of the border fence? Was that helicopter
just a coincidence?
Knowing I hadn't done anything wrong, I proceeded to try and get "all zeros" on the
GPS, but that would have entailed crossing the border fence into the USA, so I settled
for getting as close as I could while still remaining in Canada. It wasn't hard, as the
border at 119°W is 7.4 meters North of the confluence.
I took some pictures from the confluence, and on the way back to the car took pictures
of the border monument and the view.
On the way back through Bill's ranch I stopped my car to thank him for allowing me
to cross his land. We talked for a bit, and I pointed out where the confluence was
located. Bill told me that they sometimes get foreign tourists coming to the ranch
asking how they can get into the USA. Apparently some maps still show
a border crossing at this location! There once was a border crossing at the end of the
road where the gate in the fence is now, but it was closed when the second world war
Due to the nature of cattle ranching, sometimes cattle get into places they shouldn't,
and have to be "rounded up" by the rancher. Bill told me that in the past the RCMP
(Royal Canadian Mounted Police) had told them that if they ever wanted to use the gate
in the border fence to get into the pasture on the US side, that they should call the
poice first to let them know, because there was a camera that monitored the border.
One time there was a bull that wandered into the US, so Bill and his daughter rode
horses into the US side to get the bull back. Apparently the bull had decided it
liked being in the USA, because it put up quite a struggle. About 20 minutes after
arriving back at the ranch, the phone rang, and it was the RCMP. The officer was
reminding the Harpurs that they should have called first before crossing through
the gate, but they weren't too upset - it seems they had a good laugh watching the
struggle to get the bull back across the border!
In the view picture, in the lower third,
the buildings of the Harpur ranch are on the right hand side, and in the center
you can see an old railway trestle. There used to be a railway that came through
the picture from right to left, looping down a few hundred yards into the US, where
there was a grain elevator, and then looping back up into Canada along the old railbed
just visible on the hillside beyond the Harpur ranch.
Thanks again to Bill Harpur for the permission to cross his land, and also for
the interesting stories about the area.