Sacred Places

All hikes travel through sacred places because the earth, no matter how man has desecrated it, is sacred. The word “sacred” as I’m using it here, has everything to do with universal laws, the energy that prevails and having respect for all.
Sacred places where marks are left behind by ancestors from long ago hold energy on stone.

hunting picto

Archeologists try to surmise how ancient peoples used sacred places based on knowledge of religions from another continent and it comes across as inaccurate. It seems to me they have not connected the right dots.
I can’t blame North American Shamans for keeping quiet how to work with energy, how to talk with trees, water, rocks and each other without opening their mouths.
Archeologists and shamans rarely talk to each other so a genuine understanding of  sacred sites is still unknown to most. Until there is full understanding of the responsibility that goes along with having this knowledge – the wisdom to use it – there will not not be possession of it.

sm cave in mtn marked

Al and I hiked to a sacred site this past weekend. It’s a cave a thousand feet up from the trail head, a slit on the side of a mountain. It’s hard work to get up there. There are 5 pictographs in the cave and as an artist I think the images were painted with finger tips not brushes. The lines are solid and endings rounded and the width of the lines are right. The pressure of a finger could push the pigment into the rock better than a brush, explaining how sharp and clear they appear today. They are red ochre and one is faded.

One has been marked in white by a disrespectful person.

There were two girls there with a insect whining drone. They were taking pictures of themselves at this ‘cool’ place and it felt rude to me, but I am sensitive that way.

Someone left an offering at the most faded pictograph, that was good to see. I smudged the cave with local sage. Strong emotions rose in me.
I was thankful to be there, to be with the residue of people made 8,000 years ago.

The trails we walk upon are sacred and when we are quiet, introspective and open we make way for deeper connections and understanding.

Mairi Budreau

me photoing IMG_9782

MB taking photos of the pictos on the ceiling. Just beyond my feet the floor of the cave drops off.

Even If I Don’t Go Far

We need wilderness


The term ‘Wilderness’ has been defined as “a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings”, and “an area, together with its naturally-developed life community, that is undisturbed by human activity” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary).

For me, real wilderness is more than this. Yes, it has its physical elements – forest, clean water, space, virgin flora and wildlife, but its essence is something else. Wilderness for me is an abstract, intangible thing – a mood, an impression of solitude and remoteness,
of having left far behind the familiar artificialities of the modern human world. And I believe we need wilderness. We need to be able to get into it, to wrap ourselves in it and to shed ourselves, just for awhile, of the cares and reminders of the workaday world which enslaves us at all other times. And one of the best ways of reaching this wilderness is by hiking.

Budreau AL in woods

Hiking is a recreational activity where we walk because we want to, not because we have to, and the journey is just as important as the destination. However, as distinct from trekking, it usually implies a single-day outing and because of this we must confine our broad picture of wilderness to those areas of it that we can conveniently reach. But hiking is a wonderful way of exploring nature, and for me it is about more than just recreation. Hikers have long known of the connections between nature, themselves and good health, and modern research is making those connections too.

Perhaps some day we will be thoroughly urbanized creatures happily adapted to a hemmed-in life, surrounded by hordes of other people, but we are not that kind of creature yet. Today, in this crowded age we need wilderness more than ever, and hiking gives us a way to experience the real world, directly and without a filter. Being out in nature, wrapped in the wilderness and away from the business of everyday life, allows me to connect with myself and with nature in a way that brings peace and a sense of well-being. Even if I don’t go very far.

Al Budreau

French Fry Hill

When lava cools into geometric columns…

The Kamloops area is hiking country. Much of it is open terrain with large hills, providing sweeping vistas from many vantage points, but there is much more to see than just the big, post-card views. We live in an area with a long volcanic history and the evidence of that violent, hostile past remains on bold display throughout the region to this day.

Northwest of the city lies the Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area, a large (15712 hectare) tract of public land made up largely of grassland and (other) open, rolling countryside. But it also has spectacular cliffs and canyons which display a wide variety of rock formations (and features), and almost all of this fascinating geology is composed of one rock type – basalt.

Basalt is (an igneous) volcanic rock (which is) formed when lava erupts onto the surface, then cools rapidly (to forming a hard, dark-coloured rock with a fine-grained mineral texture).

When the lava cools it contracts and its surface will often crack. Sometimes the contraction occurs around evenly-spaced centers, and when this happens a hexagonal fracture pattern will develop. (The fracture pattern forms at the exposed surface of the lava and propagates downward into it as the flow cools, ) forming long geometric columns. This phenomenon is called columnar jointing.

columnar basalt

The best example of basaltic columnar jointing in our area is located on the south side of the Dew Drop Flats, directly north of Battle Bluff. To reach it, follow the Tranquille-Criss Creek Road to the switch-back turn and continue straight on Frederick Road to the Battle Bluff trailhead. Follow the Battle Bluff Trail to the bottom of the hill where the final ascent begins, then turn east up the wooded valley as it rises gently between the two hills. The basalt columns appear on the north side as a nearly vertical, 25- meter-high cliff (atop a talus slope, forming the lower section of a multi-tiered hill) known locally as Bighorn Bluff and referred to by my wife as French Fry Hill.

French Frys IMG_7972

The basalt face of French Fry Hill

Al Budreau

A Natural Rock Arch

Rock arches are rare in the world and they are around Kamloops BC

Castle Butte is an imposing precipice that towers over the Dew Drop Flats north of Kamloops Lake. It projects forward from the line of cliffs that make up the Red Plateau Escarpment, and was formed by a succession of lava flows from an ancient volcanic cone which once existed a short distance to the west.

Castle Butte

The flows have given the south face of Castle Butte a layered appearance, and at the top of one of these layers is a natural rock arch. The location of this arch is not well known despite its considerable size, as it can’t be easily seen from the flats below and is not visible at all from above.

The structure has an elongated, oval-shaped entrance about 12 feet wide and 35 feet high, and an upward-curving top which is generally wider than it is thick, giving it a roof-like appearance. Its other opening is much smaller, and is situated at the top of the 25-foot-high nearly-vertical back wall.

There are several different types of arches, each named for the manner in which they are thought to have formed. This one may be a Cave Natural Arch, formed when part of the roof of a cave collapses leaving a portion suspended by the walls of the cave. When
I come to this arch I do feel as if I am actually inside a cave, and I always experience a sense of shelter and protection when there.

On geologic time scales, all arches are short-lived. The rock they are composed of may be very old, but they are not. Any arches in our area only came into existence after the retreat of the glaciers less than 9,000 years ago, and all will one day succumb to the same erosional forces that created them.

To see the Castle Butte Natural Rock Arch for yourself, follow the Tranquille-Criss Creek to the Frederick Road intersection, then follow Frederick Road for 3.3 km. Castle Butte is in plain view to the north. Follow a rough grade west for 0.55 km, then head north on foot toward a large hill on the east side of the butte – the arch is at the top of this hill. There is no actual trail to follow, but a shallow ravine leads straight toward it, and the final section requires a scramble up the side of a chute. It takes effort to get there, but the place is well worth visiting – big arches are rare in the world.

corr IMG_9150

In this view the arch is about 20 feet straight up.


The Rock Arch is a GPS mapped hike in the new guide book, Kamloops Backcountry Hikes available at retailers listed here:

Al Budreau



BIG Trees

Kamloops has a climate of mild winters, hot summers and light precipitation, and at lower elevations grasslands are the dominant vegetation type.

However, as elevation increases the annual precipitation rises, and at about 975 meters the grasslands give way to dry forests dominated by interior Douglas fir. These firs are not the towering giants that we know on the west coast, but they are a related variety and are themselves capable of attaining very impressive sizes. All of the biggest living trees I’ve found in my forest wanderings around Kamloops are Douglas firs.

nesbitt fir

Big trees are beautiful and majestic. Their strength, long lifespans and regal stature give them a monument-like quality which makes me feel more in tune with my surroundings, and I always experience a pleasant, relaxed, comfortable feeling when in their presence.

If you are looking for big trees, search for isolated individuals in open country, or look along forest edges. These ‘open grown’ trees do not have to share resources as forest trees do, and as a result can sometimes reach much greater size than ‘stand grown’ trees of the same species and age. They also tend to develop a characteristic shape, having thick bases and tapered trunks, which can make them appear to be even more massive.

Some of the biggest trees in our area can be found along the upper edge of the Lac du Bois Grasslands near McQueen Lake. One outstanding individual is located near the southeast corner of the McQueen Lake Environmental Education Centre property, just north of the Grasslands Community Trail. It is the largest in a scattered group of several old firs and has a circumference of 16’- 4” measured three feet above the ground.


To find this tree, drive past McQueen Lake to the northwest trailhead of the Grasslands Community Trail, then follow the trail south along a fence until reaching the fence corner at the edge of a meadow. Cross the fence at this corner and follow the trail west for 70 meters: the tree will then be beside you on the north side of the trail. Alternately, park just south of McQueen Lake at Day Center Road and walk that road east to the Day Center, then pass between two ponds and follow the north side of a wire fence through an aspen grove until reaching the same spot.   – Al Budreau

Long Lake

When you go quietly into nature she meets you more than half way – at least that’s my experience.

Right now winged creatures are busy courting, making nests, and sitting on eggs and their activity is remarkable considering the heat. This spring is about 10 degrees C warmer than usual.

long lake

On Saturday Al and I went to Long Lake, and on Monday I went solo taking time to record sights and sounds. Both days were warm, 26 and 30 degrees C.

The area of the Lac du Bois Grasslands I travelled through is mostly treeless. The distance was about 10 km round trip. I began at 7am capturing most of the photos and videos by noon. By then the heat was on. The hike back took a lot longer because I lay under several of the fir trees that sparsely dot the hills to lower my body temp on the cool and still-moist ground. What a treat that was to just lay there and look up into the branches, and the blue, blue sky.  Travelling this way slowed down the urge to return to the a/c in the car and instead I just soaked up the land even though it was a hot day. Earth energy going directly into the spine is wonderful – so energizing.

Wildflowers are everywhere right now, indigo delphinium’s (saw this white one – is that rare?)

white delphinium delphinium

Some highlights of the day:

As I watched some coots through the binos, they mated.
While eating a red apple a hummingbird buzzed me within less than meter.
I’m getting better at anticipating what ducks will do, which helps get a decent coverage.

Sparrows were popping out of the ground and I came upon this Savannah or Song sparrow nest.
Click this link to see a video of her, plus a coyote and some of the sights and sounds of courtship!

eggs savannah sparrow

savannah sparrow

Above: Savanna sparrow

The chain of lakes above and below Long Lake were dotted with ducks and birds….

cinnamon teal male

Above: Cinnamon teal – male

ruddy duck male

Above: Ruddy duck – male

ruddy duck 3 females

Above: Ruddy ducks – females

northern shoveller

Above: A northern shoveler  – although his head isn’t the right colour so he may be another type – if you know,  please contact me.

A. Coot

Above: American Coot

marsh wren

Above: Marsh wren – male

marsh wren nest

Above: …and the wren’s condo – quite the feat of engineering – how did he bend those reeds and get them to stay in place? Note to self, next year – go earlier and observe this!

yellow headed black bird

Above: Yellow headed blackbird – male – he looked kinda old and tired compared to the others.

yell head bb female

Above: Female yellow headed blackbird

coopers hawk

Above: Several hawks soared and circled me, this one appears to be a Coopers Hawk


and these two insects appeared to be doing some mating dance.

lunch spot

This is the view where I ate my lunch.

The mosquitos were pretty thick and we were chewed on the first day because we didn’t bring any bug dope. But the second day I smartened up!

MB filming at long lake

Above: Filming from an esker

Aspen eye

Above: nature observes…

Video of these amazing friends.

Long Lake trail:  find it in Kamloops Backcountry Hikes

There’s always something

Roaming in the woods usually starts on a trail. I visit the same places often and know the shape of the land well, so when an impulse to go off the trail comes, I just go with it.

It’s a green world in the forests of BC’s interior even though large fires are still burning not too far away. The temperatures have been up to 38C in the last week.

So the impulse hits and I slip off the trail in a slow roam up a hillside, soaking up the life, loving it and hugging it with my heart, mind, and soul. A couple of grouse burst out of high limbs and rounded the top of the hill and over to the side exposed to afternoon sun which had not swung around yet. A small bird more less exploded out of the ground beside me and in an erratic flight landed on the ground 20 feet away.
Oh no, it’s injured.
I approached it and before raising my camera, I knew.
I, for a moment had swallowed the bait, hook line and sinker!  This was a mother bird pretending to be injured to lure me away from her young.

I stepped back to where she popped up and among the grey rocks and needles nestled in a shallow depression among rocks blending in very well were two gawky looking little chicks.
This Common Nighthawk was well camouflaged too, remaining in her broken wing position.
I felt it was a gift to be so close and see this new life and be so close to her.

I was recording the chicks when a hornet started nibbling on my thigh reminding me not to stay too long. So I quickly covered them from all angles and let Mom lead me away. I wanted her to know she had done her job of protecting them and could return to them.

e nighthawk mom

e nighthawk mom2

e nighthawk chicks 2

e nighthawk chicksTo stay longer than a few minutes could put those little lives in peril without her around to guard them. I was not a real threat but she didn’t know that and wasting her energy and theirs was not my intention, so my visit with them was short; trying for her and meaningful to me.

These ground nesting birds choose the best spot, hers would have been in full sun on that 38 degree day. These small creatures are so resilient.

As I left her behind, I thanked her for teaching more about motherhood.
Whenever that impulse to go off the trail comes, there’s always something.
From out in the Spiritual Wilderness – Quiet Walker


Flight School

EAGLE MOUTH OPENOut walking “cleeking” from a bald eagle draws me to a dead tree where two adults and one fledgling perch.

eagle family

What is this “cleeking talk” about I wonder?







My eyes sweep of the area and see much nearer to me is a structure of sticks erupting out of the crotch of a cottonwood that could probably support both the weight and length of an adult human.

Eagle nest

eagle puppet in nestA second young eagle peers over the rim. His head looking much like a hand puppet turning side to side. He watches me, perhaps responding to the “cleeking” from his mother who I assume is warning me, or the young ones, that its time to be wary, a stranger is near.

I spend hours with this family listening to their talk, observing their posturing and flights from one dead tree to another, circling out over the water returning with empty talons.

Scree eagle flight Mairi Budreau

Is the nestling supposed to connect this routine to satisfying his hunger? He’s a big boy, adult in size, but prefers to sit at home rather than get out like his sibling, and test his wings or develop hunting skill.

young eagle from rear

The youth perched with his parents reveals just how inexperienced he is.

These fledglings are teachers, messengers. I too am learning to trust that the air I fly through will support me. Learning to soar on invisible thermals and coordinate my body to do unearthly things as I explore and respond to the spirit world then come back down to a branch, to children, to my mate, to the earth.

With my soul full of sunlight, body sticky with sweat, and heart glowing with the message imparted by these revered flight masters I head home assured once again about the path before me.
Take flight girl, everything you need is right in front of you – now step off the edge of your comfort zone.

click the link then scroll down a bit to watch   eagle video

Photos: Mairi Budreau

Akashic Solo Walk

In preparation for the Meditation Walk coming up soon, I roamed the Akashic Ranch to connect with this land and it’s inhabitants.

After some quiet in the tipi I walked out into the great wide open responding to a single impulse, to be there and nowhere else.

Moving from rocky outcrop to salty lake, to beds of river-worn stones pushed in by the great ice sheet then across the meadow to the cool shady forest sharing her secrets, fringed by a forgotten wagon trail, a reminder that we too are part of this wildness.

A naturally formed hoop appeared leading me to a bear den, a raw and tender nursery in the woods. Multitudes of sparrows sprung like arrows from hidden homes on the ground and flitted with nuthatches and chickadees, delighting in their findings that dangled in bear hair lichen then lighting on limbs to wash, preen and sort out their moult.

Deer trails led to sunning beds and places of shelter and insight into deer life. Then a great spirit appeared looming dark and upright pulling me in close, inspiring awe and wonder, looking me in the eye. We ‘spoke’ awhile in ancient terms and I moved on. Later I circled back and he was still there.

owl facing cropped

My eyes were windows without glass. I could feel, hear, sense and absorb the perfumed land in timeless sequence.

sm yellow field and salt lake Akashic Ranch M. Budreau

A profoundly flowered meadow surrounded me and I sat for a long while in “the all” of
a dome sky overhead. It altered my consciousness, the ‘real world’ fell away. This was all there was to experience, the grasses waving and nodding in the summer breezes kissing the earth.

In Movement with Nature, A Walking Meditation will take place July 30th, 2016 at the Akashic Ranch. (click link for event details)

Join me at the tipi to prepare for a deep cleansing, insightful rejuvenating connection. The ranch is a natural, gorgeous retreat.


Overcoming Violence in This World

Every human being wants peace, it’s in the make up of every soul.

Clearly killing is not bringing peace, nor is it changing anyone’s beliefs or putting an end to anything.

Stop the cycle of hatred and killing.

Stop killing.

Accept the losses. Yes there is pain, by all means feel it, release it, but do not act out of it.

Let go of the history. It is behind you not in front of you.

Forgive the killers, dig deep.

You ask how can anyone unleash violence such as this? By being lost and not knowing their true selves, that’s how. Do not wish killers more ill, they are already there. That’s how they came to be killers. Wish them love to wake them up. Be vigilant.

Forgive yourself for hating them, for hating you.

It only stops when it stops.


Be compassionate with yourself.

Be compassionate with the enemy.

Each person you encounter is your teacher.

Those who cause you pain teach a lesson in compassion, look for it, use it and be grateful.


The path to peace is to love the self and extend it out to all life.

When you love your self you can do no harm.

When each of us does this, see where it leads….

By doing we teach


Peace is power that is real

Hate has force that is unreal


We live in a world of duality, hatred and peace, but there is space between the two – in the middle there is balance, it is neutral, go there.

Each of us is responsible for what we think and what we do. It’s not necessary to burden ourselves with changing the world, or to feel hopeless in view of the violence flooding the media.

Simply be the change you wish to see and mentor your children in kind.