Why Hike?

Mid summer hike up Golden Ears, in Lower Mainland, BC  Photo: Heather Ellis

Some hikers hit the trail to move blood and build muscle, to discover a new view, feel the rewards of a hard climb or challenge a fear. Some burn off stress, get away from daily life, or walk and visit with a friend. Some wear ear buds to push a compelling mantra into their brains, some go to exercise the dog, log new entries on their birding list, and others find magical photographic light or seek out neat rocks, and find feathers to bring home.

Another way to experience a hike is to slow down – a lot.

On a familiar trail to you, (less likely to get lost) pull out the ear buds, wear silent clothing, refrain from talking both to your self and others for just a while and move like smoke on a gentle breeze. Slowly, timelessly and breathing deeply follow a level path and a whole new energy enters the body and quiets the mind.

If you’re wound up it may take 15-20 minutes of this slow pace to really settle and feel it in your system, but once it does, just coast or sit for a while. Let your gaze shift to daydream. Listen to birds and plants and trees alive in their world. Lay down and watch the clouds drift, or branches sway. Roll over and smell the earth, the grasses or forest floor – you’ll be amazed at the perfume, especially at the base of fir or pine tree when the sun has shone on it for awhile.

Inhaling forest perfume – pure delight.

Why we hike doesn’t always have to fit the mold of exuberant movement. Being out there whether active or not brings balance to some of the nonsense of daily life.

If you feel energized and refreshed at the end of it all, then tick the box called, ” Food for body mind and soul ” as well done for today – yay you!

Mairi Budreau

Kamloops Backcountry Hikes


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.

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: http://www.mairibudreau.com/kbhikes

Al Budreau