31-Dec-2002 -- I was first introduced to the Degree Confluence Project by friends who visited 56N/114W and provided the link to the project website and their associated confluence visit via e-mail. This intrigued me and I looked at the primary confluence points that had not been visited in the Province of Alberta. Fortunately there were 2 locations close to Slave Lake, where our friends Kim and Sean live. Sandy and I convinced them to join us on a little adventure and we decided to make it happen on December 31st. We hoped to have a successful confluence visit and then celebrate the New Year together.
I started researching topographical and resource access maps of the area. This particular confluence point appeared to be located within the boundaries of Randall Lake and thus thought it should probably be attempted in the winter time when the lake is frozen and the typically marshy terrain that exists in this area is frozen as well. This would allow for easier travel not to mention the lack of fly's and mosquito's that are abundant during the summer months.
Access to this confluence location appeared better than the other unvisited location south of Slave Lake. With sunrise around 9:00 am and sunset around 5:00 pm, this left only 8 hours of daylight to work with thus we chose to attempt this confluence point.
Sandy and I drove from Edmonton to Slave Lake, a distance of 230 kilometres, on the evening of December 30th. This would allow us to be a bit better prepared and get an earlier start on December 31st. Sean and Kim had arranged for a babysitter to look after their son for the day, the maps and planning was done, and the weather was cooperating as there was very little snow on the ground.
We finally got out the door at 9:30 am and started on our journey to find the confluence point. The temperature when we left was -18 degrees C but was expected to get to around -5 degrees C under a clear sky. The trip started with a drive north from Slave Lake on Highway 88 for approximately 80 kilometres (50 miles) until we reached the oil and gas access roads which were shown on the map. We were unsure whether these access roads would be gated, which would have required us to travel on foot for an additional 8 kilometres (5 miles) each way. Fortunately, we were able to drive to the end of these roads which made our journey to the confluence an 8 kilometre (5 mile) hike. The hike required us to bushwack through frost covered forest (Picture #2), along cutlines and then 3 kilometres across frozen Randall Lake (Picture #3)heading from the west edge of the lake to the east edge. With no snow cover on the lake, skates would have been the appropriate footwear to use, unfortunately we didn't plan for this. We slid our feet across the ice until reaching the confluence point. This trip across the ice was not without concern as the air was filled with noises of the ice moving with the changing temperature. We knew the ice was thick enough for our trip across it, as ATV and snowmobile tracks were abundent.
We made it to the confluence point at 2:08 pm and took the necessary photos. Having only 3 more hours of daylight we headed back to our vehicle following basically the same route we took to the confluence point. We drove back to Slave Lake, dined and celebrated our first confluence visit and then rang in 2003. Happy New Year!