03-Jun-2004 -- 03-June-2004 In September 2003 we visited the Copper Creek campground just south of the border between Idaho and British Columbia. We toured many of the Idaho forestry roads in the area, enjoying the scenery and attempting to get within hiking distance of the confluence 49 N – 116 W.
June 2, 2004 once again found us in the vicinity - our entry to the U.S. delayed by 3 days as we had to eat the beef we’d packed in the R.V. forgetting that it would be confiscated at the border. “Mac” McArthur, the host of the campground, provided us with a map of the forestry roads we hoped would get us within range. A chance encounter with Senior Border Patrol Agent M. Jones was discouraging as although we had an informative visit, his maps and experience in the area indicated that we would have to hike over American Mountain and that until the snow melted at the higher elevations he would not recommend it even in his winch equipped Durango 4X4. With this cautionary advice, we continued up the mountain checking Idaho Trail #38 (wrong direction) and the road to Spruce Lake, which was snow covered.
Back at camp, we determined from the Backroads B.C. Map Book that the Yahk Meadow Road just east of the B.C. town of Yahk would take us to Americus Creek Road and bring us fairly close to the Canada – U.S. border. Using the British Columbia Yahk Provincial Park as home base, we started our approach from Canada this time.
The roads deteriorated to trails and eventually to grass, rock and log covered cuts though the forest eventually ending with a series of high/deep berms filled with rocks and logs – a supreme challenge- for even a HumVee. We had obviously arrived at the end of the road so left the vehicle behind and set out on the hike. The slash line of the international border is the 49th parallel; so we just had to walk less than a kilometre east to the confluence of 49 N, 116 W.
Yeah right! As Agent Jones had warned, walking in the tangle of trees and brush was very difficult, especially at an elevation of 1600 meters and the temperature near 80 degrees. We were up for the challenge- hiking down the slash line about 200 meters, crossing a fairly large, fast flowing Americus Creek (mostly crawling on logs) and then climb about 700 meters up a steep grade.
Progress was slow over the felled trees and rocky terrain. We had encountered a large pile of bear scat just before we reached the border and we knew there were both grizzly and black bears in the area. “Mac” had reminded us that the way to distinguish grizzly bear scat from black bear scat was the former sometimes contained ‘hiker’s bells’. Reflecting back to Agent Jones’ 9mm handgun it may have been slightly more comforting than the hiking whistle which was our only defence.
Just short of a rocky precipice, we achieved the goal. The many rest stops for water and to catch our breath revealed Calypso Orchids and Yellow Wood Violets. The hike down the mountain was much easier and the icy water of Americus Creek was refreshing. We did feel a sense of relief seeing the vehicle – mission accomplished.
As with our visit to a Confluence in Mexico we learn that once again we were second by only 2 days. Fortunately we consider this endeavour a challenge and not a race.