Fat Dog Ridge

June 2014 with Bev & Bill R and Janet & Bryan K.

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On this Bird Blitz weekend I got to hike two trails I’d never done before in Manning. We hiked this on the Sunday, having ventured maybe halfway up the Memaloose Creek trail the day before.

This is not generally known as a summer hike but it’s popular among snowshoers and cross-country skiers, giving access to the Three Brothers area from the Cambie Creek winter camping area on the eastern edge of Allison Pass. The route follows an old logging road (1960s or so) up Cambie Creek and then Fat Dog Creek before turning into a trail higher up. Being a deactivated logging road and not a maintained trail, there are no bridges. In June, with spring runoff at its peak, that means crossing creeks the hard way. A few of them were small enough to rockhop across with (mostly) dry boots, but this one was more of a challenge.

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It was rocky, with cold and fast-flowing water, and a small willow-choked gravel bar in the middle to get in the way and slow us down. Bill R with his trusty quarterstaff guided us through and we continued on our way, after Bryan and Janet took time to fire up their camp stove and have tea.

After the crossing we soon came to a semi-clearing which appeared to be the old log sorting area. Several overgrown roads branch off from this area, and luckily my companions knew which way to go from there. At the edge of the clearing we picked up a road which gradually turned into a trail, with one more rough creek crossing. The trail then turned up onto the ridge itself and climbed out of the trees. 

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We started getting good views south toward Hozameen, Frosty and other peaks to the south, and west toward Outram and other peaks. The Blackwall, the usual hikers access to the meadows, appeared as a small hump way off in the distance. 

We had lunch (and Bryan and Janet made more tea) and watched some bluebirds halfway up the ridge, and then Bev, Bill and I continued up to the top. Easy hiking with no exposure, a few snow patches but no trouble.

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The ridge ends in a steep drop-off, looking directly across a high valley toward the Second and Third Brothers (with the First lurking mostly out of sight behind the Second). You can go down the south side of the ridge into the valley and back up onto the Heather Trail but you need an overnight or a very long day to do that.

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We took our time when we eventually started back down, wading the creek again, and stopping with Bryan and Janet for tea again. Starting at 8 am, we got back to the cars about 6:30 pm. Yes we could have done it a lot faster but we were enjoying it too much.

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 It was the Bird Blitz, and yes there were birds. Lots of good subalpine and alpine species. In addition to the usuals, we found three Dusky Grouse (1 male in a tree which we spent some time walking around trying to get a good look at it). Other highlights were Hairy Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, several Red-breasted Nuthatch, lots of Swainson’s and Hermit Thrush, a couple of Varied Thrush, family of Mountain Bluebirds, Warbling Vireo, Pine Grosbeak and Red Crossbill. Also two snowshoe hare.

 

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