We spent the night in North Battleford after doing N53° W108° yesterday. By 9:30 A.M. we were heading northwest on the Yellowhead Highway, a route that stretches from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The highway was busy with travelers getting an early start on their Thanksgiving weekend journeys. Thanksgiving Day in Canada is October 10th this year. It was a 75 kilometer drive out to Paynton, population 231. The welcome sign read, "Paynton - the friendly village on the Yellowhead". Just west of the friendly village we turned south onto a grid road. Usually in Saskatchewan a grid road is graveled. In this area all the grid roads were oiled which made for pleasant dust free driving.
On one grid road we determined that a 1.4 kilometer walk on a trail behind a locked gate would get us to the confluence. Since this was near a home, Alan checked to see if we could trespass on the property to get to the spot. No one was home. The next plan was to explore the area using the Saskatchewan grid layout of a road every one mile (the metric system did not start in Canada until the 1970s) when traveling east/west and a road every two miles when going north/south. There were several accesses to the confluence area but each one involved two or more kilometers of walking and "No Trespassing" signs were prevalent. We came upon a farm where a trail heading south was posted "No Through Road". Up that trail we could see a vehicle. Since the trail seemed promising and headed in the direction of the confluence, we drove that way to see if we could talk to someone about getting permission to go on that land. The two friendly guys in the truck told us that the landowner lives in Paynton. They said the farm was the old Sylvester homestead. Alan explained the Degree Confluence Project to them and they thought we should be fine walking into the confluence field.
At the end of the "No Through Road" we drove east a short distance and parked near the gate to the confluence field. The gate was open so it was easy to walk the 224 meters from our van through the harvested canola field to the exact spot. It was calm, overcast and about 8°C. Cows could be heard mooing from a ranch to the south and crows were cawing overhead as they gathered to sit in distant tree tops.
To the west of the confluence is the old truck shown in the first visit. The truck is now in a fenced area that was growing in a natural state. Alan crossed through the fence to look at the identification medallion on the front of the radiator. It read, "NASH - Kenosha Wisconsin". NASH was an American automobile manufacturer in Kenosha from 1916 - 1938.
There were sloughs in the confluence area that were overflowing with water. It has rained too much in this area of Saskatchewan during the late summer and autumn. Water was standing in many fields and ditches. In one place water overflowed the ditch and covered a grid road. A few swathed rows of canola were left lying on the ground around the sloughs at the confluence area. It was still muddy there and carpets of moss were actually growing between the rows. A few farmers were out today harvesting their deteriorating crops, hoping to get them in before the first snowfall. For the last few years farmers have been contending with drought. This year there has been too much rain, spoiling what was thought to be a bumper crop.
On our way we had seen huge flocks of birds migrating south. A pond near the farm north of the confluence, at the "No Though Road" entrance, was crowded with geese feeding and resting. While driving around Paynton we saw a group of robins feeding and preparing for their flight south. Most trees in the area were bare of leaves. In another month there will probably be snow on the ground that will not melt until next March or April.
This was a wonderful visit in crisp Autumn air to an area of our province we had not explored before. Driving a total of 1,068 kilometers in two days to visit two confluences was time well spent. We have now visited 39 confluences in Saskatchewan. Only 53 to go!! Too bad so many of those are in the far north and probably accessible only by float plane or helicopter.
We dedicate this visit to the Centennial of our province of Saskatchewan: 1905 - 2005.
We also dedicate this visit to our two canine team members who passed away within the last year. Max,
our Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, died November 8, 2004. Max accompanied us on 57 confluence visits. MacDuff, our daughter's Basset Hound, died December 22, 2004. MacDuff accompanied us on 12 visits. Both dogs loved the travel and the adventure of confluence hunting. We miss these beloved dogs so very much.