Sunburst to Summit

When the chairlift opens at Sun Peaks Resort, we hike from mid-station at the top of the Sunburst Express to the summit of Tod Mountain.  This is a steady uphill to Top of the World, then an up and down venture to the final hill that is the peak of Tod Mountain.   The return hike is about 9km.   Early in July there are some muddy and wet spots and some snow up near the summit, but overall this is a moderate hike to a nice viewpoint.

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The big wildflower show is later in July, but the earlier blooms include anemone, alpine buttercups, shooting stars, marsh marigold, chickweed, spring beauties, and violets.    

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If you go early in the season, you will see less flowers, wetter conditions, and more bugs, but there will less people too.   The flower show changes every 2 weeks so several visits (early July/later July/August) are recommended before the chairlift shuts down over Labor Day weekend.

More information:

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East Barriere Lake

The multi-year goal is to paddle all of the lakes in the area and East Barriere Lake was well overdue for a day in the kayak.   The road to the lake is an easy drive and the best launch spot is at the BC Recreation Site boat launch on the northwest corner of the lake.

East Barriere Lake

This is a fairly large lake best paddled on a day that is not too windy.   To paddle the entire shoreline is about 23km.   We went along the north shore to the "scout camp," crossed the lake, and then came back on the south shore, for a day of about 15km of paddling.   The setting is scenic, the water is warm, and the whole area has a wonderful ambience to it.   A number of large homes with large power boats were seen at docks, but this was a Monday and there wasn't much activity.   We assume that it is a busier lake on summer weekends.   We enjoyed lunch on a small beach and a swim afterward in the clear water.   East Barriere Lake is a gem up in the hills. 

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Kirkland Ranch Road Ride

Our friends Steve and Darcy took us on a drive and mountain bike ride from Ashcroft to Spences Bridge.   We took turns with one driving and two riding, switching every 5-10km along the 35 km route (I rode about half, happy to drive, take pictures, and explore).   The route starts at the junction of the the Highland Valley Road (to Logan Lake Road) and the Kirkland Ranch Road, 5.5km from Ashcroft.  

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The first 10km of the road is a good gravel road servicing a few homes in the community of Basque:

  • Basque once had vineyards (link to articles).   
  • Basque Siding was also the site for the Last Spike for the Northern Great Railway in 1915.  
  • The Basque Ranch is one of the oldest ranches in BC, going back to the opening of the Cariboo Wagon Road.
  • At the south end of Basque is a pumping station which sends water up tot he Highland Valley mines. 

Beyond Basque the road becomes narrow (one vehicle at a time) and rough.   Careful and slow driving is required.   For mountain bikers, the road goes up and down with some longer climbs and descents along the route.   We saw no other vehicles along the route and no people, but there were some isolated homes and ranches on the Indian Reserves (Munroe, Spatsum, Toketic, and Pemynoos) along the way.   The road bypasses these homes/ranches, but goes through the abandoned Village of Pokeist (see the previous article) with its scenic church.  

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We passed old fences, fenced graveyards, abandoned vehicles, some cattleguards, gates, and some minor sideroads, but on the whole the area is dry and sees little activity.   The hillsides are covered in sagebrush, grasses, and ponderosa pines.   In some of the larger gullies were small creeks and these narrow oases had a variety of trees and shrubs.   We found a pocket of saskatoons in fruit and stopped for a snack.   Few flowers do well exposed to the dry, hot summer conditions, but we spotted sagebrush mariposa lily and milkweed in bloom.

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Along the route, we spotted stellar jays, the usual crows and magpies, feral horses, and a clutch of young chukar.   Steve and Darcy have previously seen bighorn sheep along the route.  

At the Spences Bridge end of the road, we rode above a working ranch before we came down to Highway 8, the end of our 35km ride/relay.   We chose to drive through Merritt back to Kamloops to complete a large scenic loop.   On the way back, we scouted sections of the Merritt Subdivision track (from Merritt to Spences Bridge) for a future exploratory ride.

Pokeist on the Thompson

The abandoned Village of Pokeist stands on the bench above the Thompson River halfway between Ashcroft and Spences Bridge.   At one time, the village had about 800 people, but the smallpox epidemics decimated the population.   Apart from a few trailers, relics, and a residence or two, a small wooden church (St. Aidan's) still stands there and is visible from the Trans Canada Highway across the river.

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Although the exterior is run-down, the interior of the church shows that it is still used, though in need of some TLC.   A graveyard on the north side of the village also seems well cared for.

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The Anglican Church has still used for an occasional service.   The congregation ferries the minister across the river in a small boat when the river is low.   A number of old buildings and vehicles also surround the village, including the old company store up on the hill.

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On a sandy bench above the village, an ex-archeologist (Steve) showed me a spot where a camp had once stood and basalt flakes could be found.   Stone tools were shaped and tools were sharpened.   We spotted several shards nearby.   The basalt is found in the Arrowstone Hills, about 25 miles north of Pokeist.   A more detailed search would doubtless uncover more artifacts.  

Above the village is a large rock slope with hoodoos above.   A white pinnacle was said to hve been where Native doctors went to pray and fast and some young men would climb the "white stone" as they reached manhood.   The tower stands over the village.

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The road from Ashcroft to Spences Bridge on the east side of the Thompson River is a good one for a few miles, but it becomes a narrow, rough road winding across the sidehill above the canyon.   A 2WD vehicle could make it, but we were in low gear in 4WD for much of the distance.   The route is very scenic so we didn't mind the slow drive while we took turns mountain biking the 35km route.  

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To follow will be another story on the Kirkland Ranch Road Ride (July 19, 2014)

Mount Bowman

The Marble Range has a number of first-class hikes that are not well-known.   They are accessed off the Jesmond Road, a two hour+ drive from Kamloops.   We return to hike there in June-September each year, but we often choose an earlier date because the snow clears earlier there than in other ranges, even at the 7000 foot elevation.   Our favorite hike in the range is Mt. Bowman (link to a more detailed article on this trail). 

From the unmarked trailhead off unmarked sideroads, the hike is 12.5km out and back, climbing 848m (2782 feet).   The trail starts as a double track going into a valley between Mt. Bowman and Mad Dog Mountain, but soon turns to a single track that stays on the forested hillside above the creek.   The trail winds along the southern flank of Bowman to a stream valley coming down from the north.   There are blazes on the trees here.   A "B" marks the fork up the side valley.   The route follows a small stream up to a wet meadow, then above to alpine meadows below the summit.   The final section winds up between limestone outcrops, requiring some light scrambling.   The peak sits at 2243m (7359 feet).

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The trail is a satisfying gentle climb through the forest, followed by a steeper climb to the alpine, and finally a steeper yet scramble, but the views improve with each step.   Wide views are the reward on top.   The rugged wilderness of the Marble Range fills the landscape in three directions.  Wild Horse Ridge invites us to explore a more remote sector of the range.

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The upper ridge of Mt. Bowman has a number of limestone horns, a few caves, some snow pockets in sheltered alcoves, and a few plants that can survive in this exposed summit ridge for a couple of months in the growing season.

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Wildflowers line the trail for the whole route with paintbrush, arnica, false solomons seal, fairyslippers, columbine, penstemon, pussytoes, twinflower, and yarrow at the lower elevations and jacob's ladder, cut-leaf anemone, moss phlox, forget-me-nots, and paysons draba (a rarer sighting) at the upper elevations.

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Heading west from Kamloops, the Marble Range offers us fine rugged wilderness hiking, some of the best in the Interior of the province.