The Ups and Downs of Wind

What does it mean to be up wind or down wind? Wind comes at us from all sides so it can be a bit confusing.

MB on trail

Your position in an up or down wind situation is relative to something else, for example  lets say its a fox.

So you’re on the trail, notice where you feel the wind is coming from, say it’s felt on your face as you walk forward. If the fox is behind you, you are up wind of him and he is down wind from you. The wind passes you first carrying your scent and any sounds you make, slight as they be, to the alert ears and keen nose of our little red friend. As you walk ahead and further away from the fox, the information about you decreases. This fox knows you are there and you will most likely never even know about it.

Fox den by simply Appalachian
Fox Den    Photo by Simply Appalachian

Now let’s look at it the other way. The wind stays on your face, but now the fox is ahead of you, you are now down wind of the fox and he is up wind of you. If he is out of sight you have little or no sense that he is there because your senses are not as sharp as his are. And with the wind blowing your scent behind you and away from the fox he is not getting the information that you are approaching and both of you might have a surprise encounter, or you catch a glimpse of his tail disappearing in some underbrush, or if you’re lucky capture a photo if he locks into his tracks and you’re fast and ready with a camera.

Being up wind and down wind is important to be aware of as you hike, particularly in transition zones between forests and fields, climbing up onto clearings and along the edges of creeks, ponds, and swamps; the borders between these different habitats are often frequented by wildlife. Paying attention to air movement tunes you more closely to the location and can help you avoid a sudden meeting with a more powerful four-legged than a fox.

Mairi Budreau

Kamloops Backcountry Hikes

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