10-Nov-2021 -- In the past few days I'd noticed that the first snowfall of the year was likely coming at some point in the next week. I planned to go for this confluence at some point in that time span, but I made drastic changes to my schedule when I woke up today and saw snow in the forecast for both tomorrow and the day after.
The drive was just under 3 hours, and a lot of it was spent thinking about the swampy bushwhack and biting my nails from anxiety. I eventually turned onto Gemmell Ridge Forest Road and was pleasantly surprised by the condition -- definitely on the higher end of forest roads.
13:00 // 1:00 PM - Set off into the forest. It wasn't too bad at the very beginning, but the compacted dirt eventually turned into squishy moss. I've navigated swamps similar to this and have a general idea of where to avoid stepping to keep my feet dry, and it pretty much held. It didn't get really bad until about halfway in. The already branch-dense cedar trees got denser and denser until I was regularly having to power my way through walls of branches. Not only that, sometimes branches would come swinging back at you and pelt you right in the face (at one point took a really bad one that drew blood above my eye). I was constantly checking my GPS and thus constantly disappointed by just how much energy I was expending to move pitifully slow.
14:10 // 2:10 PM - I eventually broke through the final tree line and found myself at the confluence. The last 200 feet or so had my GPS bouncing and I was essentially zigzagging until I finally got there. The tree at the confluence was evident from the trail marking ribbons wrapped around it. I took a number of pictures and replaced the geocache present at the location, then sat for a while dreading the bushwhack back.
14:29 // 2:29 PM - Set off back into the thick stuff. Since I wasn't staring at the GPS as much this time, the going seemed better this time. I'd heard that humans naturally walk in circles without navigation, and I honestly didn't believe it... until about a quarter-mile back when I looked at my GPS and saw that I had somehow done a complete circle and was walking back northeast again. I have no idea how. I decided to look more at my GPS after that. The forest got less dense when I was halfway back to the road, but I was so exhausted I could hardly care. I'd been in there so long, I just desperately wanted to be out again. It seriously felt like it took forever -- all to go 1.2 miles in total.
15:27 // 3:27 PM - I managed to make out my car through the trees in the last 200 feet or so and totally tunnel-visioned on it until I finally made it back. I wouldn't be surprised if I subconsciously shed a tear in that moment. In total the journey was 2 hours, 27 minutes. It was only at this point after it all that the physical pain took over. My back, shoes, and hair were completely full of pines, my face was bleeding, and I had a massive gash on my left leg from what I imagine was a very sharp downed cedar.
To tell you the truth, I'm still mentally exhausted as I write all this out 5 hours later. It was definitely the hardest I've pushed my body in a long time. Definitely an adventure not soon forgotten -- that all being said, I can safely say "never again!"