Dewdrop Rugged Rambles

Much of the Dewdrop Range is rolling grassland hills separated by gullies, but the middle section has a number of rugged, rocky hills.   We can contour between the hills and climb ridges to viewpoints.

dewdrop routeWith the pine beetle and tussock moth invasions, dead trees have fallen on the double tracks and they are fading into faint trails and tracks so navigation is needed to connect sections of routes through the hills.   We enjoy going south out to the edge of the cliffs overlooking Kamloops Lake.   Bighorn Bluff juts out, providing views east up the lake toward Battle Bluff.

Over Hill and Dale 001rContouring around hills, we can minimize elevation gain.   Along the way, we see snags and stumps.

Over Hill and Dale 014r Over Hill and Dale 015r

Living trees are mostly found in gullies where moisture is retained in these predominantly south-facing hills.   A few hang on to the edges of slopes, but become targets for lightning strikes.

Over Hill and Dale 009rFrom the top of the highest hill of the area, we have wide views of the volcanic Red Plateau Escarpment to the north

Red Plateau PanorTo the south, beyond the hills above Frederick is Kamloops Lake.

Over Hill and Dale 016rRising above the Dewdrop Range, Castle Butte calls out an invitation for another challenging hike this spring, already scheduled for 2015.

Over Hill and Dale 017r  The Dewdrop Range has few trails.   Access roads are used by 4×4’s and mountain bikes.   Trails are few, but we can link up sections with a map and some navigation.   There are ticks in the grasslands, rattlesnakes appearing in late spring, bighorn sheep and deer, prickly pear cactus, and ankle-wrenching rock slopes.   But it is an area of rugged beauty too.   If you want to explore it, go past Tranquille and climb the Tranquille-Criss Creek Road up the gully.   At the hairpin turn on the bench, turn left.   The road is flat for about 2.5 km and the trailheads for Battle Bluff and the Dewdrop Trail are passed along the way.  The road splits into two.   The lower road goes through the map area provided in this post then winds down to Frederick, although there is a gate part way down.   The upper road winds through the Outer Dewdrop area, but the road is rough, best suited to high-clearance vehicles.

Raptor Ridge Route

The Upper Grasslands of Lac du Bois has a few old tracks, but no trails are needed in the mostly-treeless terrain.   When we reach the rolling hills past the 7km mark on the Lac du Bois Road, we can contour around hills or we can follow ridges to viewpoints.   Raptor Ridge is so named because hawks often perch on the snags and firs on the north end of the bluffs overlooking the grasslands.

The ridge is a gradual climb for 1.1 km.

Raptor Ridge RouteAlong the western side of the ridge is a chain of ponds.

Raptor Ridge 005rAspens grow in pockets wherever moisture is retained.   We enjoyed the reflections on this grey day.

Raptor Ridge 002rFrom the end of Raptor Ridge, we go down to the rolling grasslands working our way over to a viewpoint above Long Lake, still frozen in March.

Raptor Ridge 008rThe chain of ponds on the south end of the Long Lake Trench are the first to thaw.

Raptor Ridge 010rWe returned through the grasslands following old tracks to our vehicle, completing a 6.25km loop.   The brown grasses were starting to green up at the bases and a few wildflowers were already poking up.   The yellow bracts of lemonweed follow the sagebrush buttercups and yellow bells.

Raptor Ridge 004brWe enjoy hiking in the upper grasslands in all 4 seasons and we try to vary our route  so that we have less impact on the fragile grasslands ecosystem.   Go quietly leaving nothing but your footprints, enjoying the subtle beauties of this Protected Area.

Jag Hill from the Dewdrop

Jag Hill is the southeastern-most ridge of the Red Plateau Escarpment.   It is an easy hike out from the Red Plateau Forest Service Road (article), but it is a hard scramble up from the Dewdrop Range.

We started at the Dewdrop Trail parking area, but went off-trail right away, climbing grassy slopes up to a view over the Dewdrop Range.

Jag Hill 001rOur route wound through a forested area up to the Garden of the Trolls (article).   The strange rock formations are a good destination for a hike, but we were heading higher up.   Everywhere above is steep on a loose-rock surface.   We scrambled up to the base of the cliffs then traversed east to a steep chute which allowed access up past the cliffs.

Jag Hill 012rAt the top of Jag Hill is a flat area with wide views in every direction, a good stop for lunch.

Jag Hill 015rThe climb up is a slow one, covering about 2.5 km and 1600 vertical feet in elevation.   From the top, we continued north out to a double track using our GPS and map for navigation.   From the old track, we set a bearing and came onto the Dewdrop Trail at the edge of the escarpment.   The route down from this spot is 3km.  The loop is a scramble up and an easy hike down, suited for those with a sense of adventure, strong ankles, and a sense of humor.

Coordinates:

  • Start – N50 44.706 W120 33.278
  • Trolls (area)- N50 45.076 W120 32.878
  • Chute (area) – N50 45.195 W120 32.485
  • Top of Jag Hill – N50 45.455 W120 32.623
  • Start of double track – N50  45.585 W120 32.443
  • Dewdrop Trail – N50 45.947 W120 33.598 (est.)

North of Two Rivers Junction

A good early-season paddle is to launch at Pioneer Park and paddle down to the Confluence of the two rivers, then take a sharp right turn right to go up the North Thompson River.   It is never an easy paddle upstream, but we look for the slowest water on the river, crossing back and forth, sometimes progressing quite slowly.   This is a good early-season workout.

Mt. Paul stands above the Kamloops Indian Reserve on the eastern shore.

North Thompson River 009rCottonwood-lined Schubert Drive and the Rivers Trail in North Kamloops follows the western shore to Halston.

North Thompson River 005rIt takes about an hour to paddle up to the Halston Bridge and beyond to the CN Bridge.   A train was crossing the bridge as I paddled underneath and around the pylons.

There are extensive sandbars and shallows along the North Thompson River.   Along the eastern banks are signs of beaver activity, including a lodge, several belly slides, and chewed off willows and red ossier dogwood.  Great blue herons stood on the shoreline and bald eagles watched from the cottonwoods.

This is a hard workout paddling upstream on the North Thompson, but it is an easy paddle back down to the confluence.   The hard work starts again, paddling back upriver to the Black Bridge, then the Red Bridge on the way to Pioneer Park.

North Thompson River 016rEarly in the season there is no one else on the river.   It is a good workout to paddle the 10.6 km route, half of it upstream into the current, but it is part of developing a base of paddling endurance for the year, running this year from February to November.