07-Aug-2004 -- I’m not going to pretend this was an easy confluence to get to. It doesn’t
help that I’m not in peak shape (far from it!) or that my adventure racing shoes
I will say this, we had a great time and have walked away with a memory that
will never be forgotten. Ok onto our trip …
Sometime around Mid-April – Here’s a snip-it of the conversation that
took place that day.
TJ - “Hey, Nick saw this cool article on the web about how people are hiking to
confluences and taking pictures of them and then uploading them on the web. What
do you think?”
Nick – “Oh ya? Cool, let’s do it”
Well that pretty much highlights about as much thinking as we put into it
before we left.
Sometime in Mid-June
Nick – “Hey we probably should get out for a hike or something, you know for
that confluence thing?”
TJ – “Ya, we probably should.”
Our true desire to be in great shape for this trip.
August 4th, 2004 – Two days before departure.
We met at Nicks house today to go over the route and discuss what we needed to
bring. After careful review of the maps and potential ways to attack this
confluence we came to a quick conclusion that we were going to try and utilize
as much of the existing trail system as possible and bushwhack the last bit.
I will say that we have had some experience in adventure racing. Enough to
know two things:
• We will never remember what declination is and will have to figure it out each
time we head off for one of these things.
• Don’t trust any map no matter how good it looks. Rivers can be streams and
those busy beavers can change a dry area into a swamp in no time at all.
So the final route is to take an old logging road to what looks like an ATV
trail under a Power line, hike that for 10km and then bushwhack the last 4 km to
the Confluence and camp there for the night. The next day we were going to hike
the route out.
August 5th 2004 – One day before Departure
Nick and I met at his place and went over our gear. Light light light was the
motto. Don’t take anything you don’t need. We made sure our safety gear; bear
spray, bear bells, mirror whistle, emergency radio, light sticks, first aid kit
and emergency blanket were all packed. I already did the shopping for food and
so we split the food into the packs. Nick graciously offered his VW Westfalia
for the trip so we threw all the stuff into the Van.
I headed off home to program the GPS waypoints and do the final route planning.
I put together the full route plan, GPS points and sent them to two friends that
will know what to do if we don’t come back in time. Nick decided that he should
get some extra training in by heading to the pub. The plan, get some good sleep
tonight; we’re leaving at 5:00 am for a five hour drive.
August 6th, 2004 – Departure
5:00 am – Nick picked me up at my place. So far everything going well except
neither of us slept that much. Oh well. Grab a couple of coffee’s and off we go.
We have 500 km to drive today and want to do the hike into the confluence in
this same day. After about 350 km I asked Nick, “Hey what’s the mileage on this
van?”, Nick said “Not sure”. 15 km later we found out when we ran out of gas on
the highway. Good thing Nick is a planner because he had already brought a spare
filled gas can. We got going again, found a gas station and filled up the Van
and our two spare gas cans.
11:00 am – We’ve reached Sudbury, nice city. The beginning point of our hike
is about another hour North so after a brief stop we continue. Our first
problem, no maps for this part, not a problem we know how to navigate don’t we?
Well an hour later we managed to find the right direction and finally hit the
logging road that was going to take us close the beginning of the hike. Now the
plan was that we would take a logging road to another road that was about 6 km
to the beginning of the hike.
12:30 pm – We turn onto the final road, only 6km to go! 200 meters in the
road is a washout with deep groove and rocks.
TJ – “Too bad, I was hoping to not have to hike this part. Oh well let’s park
and hike it”
Nick – “Forget that, we’re going for it.”
So I learned that the VW Van is more than just a cool camper and that Nick is a
much better driver that me. In any event, we ended up working our way over a
number of washouts and rock fields until even Nick had to concede he couldn’t
get any further. 4 km of the 6 km was done. We park the Van and started the hike
2 km further away then we wanted to start. No problem only 16 km to go.
1:30 pm – Leave the van and off we go, 2 km of road to go. After about 1.5 km
we reach another washout that’s under water and wow what a surprise, beavers did
it. Nick takes one look and just walks straight through it. I decide to be the
clever one, bushwhack around it, I refuse to start this thing with soaker. Two
minutes later I find myself in bush so thick it takes me forever to get out and
guess what, I’m forced to walk through the water.
2:00 pm – Our official beginning point. We’ve got about a 8 km to hike up a
ATV trail that’s cut under a power line. It’s wide, it’s open, no bugs, so far
so were pretty happy and we start put the kilometers on. We had already decided
on cut-off times for our check points. If we weren’t at certain points by a
given time then we would halt and camp for the night. After the first 10 km we
reached our bushwhack entry point.
4:30 pm – Time to start the bushwhack.
Nick – “Hey it looks pretty thick, think we should enter the bush here?”
TJ – “Ya for sure, it will open up after 100 meters or so”
Famous last words. I will safely say that after 2 adventure races and much
training I have never experienced bush so thick. Oh and now would be a good time
to mention that the bugs found us at this point and they were hungry! Our plan
is that we have 4 km to go, so at the worst it’s 1km per hour in this stuff so
no problem we’ll make it.
5:30 pm – We’ve made 1 km and I’m tired, this bush is thick. We happen to
stumble on what looks like an old trail. Not marked on any map. It seems to be
heading in the general direction that we want to go. It didn’t take long to
realize though that it was slowly turning away from the confluence. But who
cares, it’s not bushwhacking!
6:30 pm – We’re not going to make it today and the last thing we want to do
is hike at night in this. We decided to hike along the trail a little further
until we ended up at a lake and a great spot for camping. We set up camp, made
dinner and decided to get some sleep. Camp resided on Beresford lake, actually a
very serene spot … except for the two loons that felt they owned the place. Nick
got them all territorial when he made his loon call to them. In 2 minutes they
had come to where we were camping and were making a racket. In addition we
seemed to have encroached on a squirrels lair as he made it quite clear we
should leave, guess he missed sharing in kindergarten. Nick had brought a
collapsible fishing rod so he went down the lake put a lure on it and bang
snagged a bass in the first cast! Catch and release. Wish we had a couple more
9:00 pm – Our plan is get up a 5:00 am and get going. I put my head down and
seem to remember Nick saying something but I was out like a light. Nick told me
in the morning I was snoring, I guess he was trying to tell me I was snoring.
August 7th – Confluence day
8:00 am – So much for getting up at 5:00 am. A very cold night. We brew up some
coffee, breakfast, strike camp and head off. Great place to stay a night, not a
single human sound the whole time and I mean nothing, no planes, no cars, no
other hikers, it’s actually quite an odd and fantastic experience.
9:00 am – On the trail again, back tracking our route from yesterday so we
can get a little closer to the entry point to bushwhacking again. We decide to
leave as much gear as we can and just hike the last 2 km as light as possible.
9:15 am – Back into the bush, same as yesterday, very thick and lots of bugs.
Got to keep moving. We find another trail, cant really use it for long but maybe
we can hook up with it to get out.
11:30 am – We arrive at the confluence we’re tired. We’ve made it! Oh hey,
look the confluence it points to wait a sec … it’s in the bog on the lake. So
our plan was to stop get some lunch enjoy our achievement but what actually
happened was that we dropped our packs ran out on the floating bog, shot our
pictures and ran back to our packs and left. You can blame our 10 minute visit
on the bugs.
The confluence 47N 81W resides at the edge of a small lake, bordering a
shoreline bog. The lake is surrounded by rugged terrain and mature mixed forest,
with a steep rise of rock overlooking the setting from the southwest. The
remoteness and rising terrain around the perimeter of the area left us with the
impression we were the 1st to experience the gentle pleasures the lake had to
11:40 back into the bush, we’re heading back to our packs. We find that trail
and decide to follow to see where it’s going. Well again we had to abandon it
after a while as we were getting further away from our gear that we had left on
another trail. Back into the bush .. getting tired of this.
2:00 pm – Ok we found our gear. Brief break. Now at this point we decided to
follow the trail. It has to lead us back to the main power line ATV trail, it
just has to … I don’t know if was merely the strength our wills but some how it
eventually did pop us out to the ATV Power line trail. Just as we exited our
found trail, (Nick dubbed it “Fat Toad Trail” due the Fat Toad we nearly stepped
on.) we looked back and see a sign “Danger – Traps and Snares”. We’ve been
hiking this thing for two hours and didn’t know it was a trappers trail!
4:00 pm – Back to the ATV Power line trail. It’s about this time that Nick
starts to suggest that we stop for a swim at a lake about an hour down the trail
and he makes it pretty clear that it’s time that I freshen up, even Nick has his
limits and apparently that was when he decided I needed a shower
5:00 pm – 2 km down the trail and 8 km more to go to get back to the van. We
stop for a great swim and I get a chance to change clothes.
5:30 pm – Back on the trail, my feet are starting to hurt and I’m slowing
down. We keep moving, I know if I stop I won’t want to get up and we’ll end up
camping another night.
7:00 pm – Ok we made it to the original start point and now we only have 2 km
left to the Van. The longest 2 km of the trip in my opinion because of two
reasons; my legs and feet had had it and being dusk we got the worst dose of
7:45 pm – We’re back to the Van. We made it! We get in and surprise Nick had
hidden two icy cold beers for our arrival back. The best beer I’ve had in a long
8:00 pm – We drove out of the of the washout road and back to the logging
road. About 20 minutes later we’ve found a nice camp spot near the river to stop
for the night. I’m in full lock up and can hardly move. Nicks in much better
shape so he sets up pretty much most of the camp, cooks dinner and we settle
down for the night.
August 8th, 2004 – Going home
8:00 am – We’re up and we waste no time heading out to Sudbury for breakfast,
call our wives, safety watchers. A drive home, Confluence complete.
Day 1 Tally – 13 km
Day 2 Tally – 19 km