Distance: 11 km
Elevation gain: 745 m View map Download GPS track
Third time’s a charm! For quite a while now I’ve wanted to get a good view of the southern High Rock Range, but the past two times I’ve gone, despite forecasts of nothing but sunny skies, the range has been obscured by cloud. This time, on a hike up diminutive Cyclamen Ridge, I wasn’t denied the view I’d been hoping for!
After an early wakeup and a very long drive down from Calgary, we started our hike just after sunrise at the southern end of Cyclamen Ridge, about 16 km northwest along the Oldman River Road. A cutblock at this point offered easy access to the lower ridge and in the cool of the morning we quickly climbed steeply to the forested ridgecrest. The ascent grade relaxed considerably at this point and we easily wandered north along the ridge, generally following a good animal trail and only occasionally needing to detour around deadfall or thick brush.
A few open areas along the ridge, including a large meadow just south of the summit, provided unobstructed and very nice views to the west (finally!). The Cache Creek Elevators and Beehive Mountain were particularly impressive. Just 90 minutes after leaving the truck we arrived at the western highpoint of the ridge, a forested bump marked with a cairn sporting a large stake.
We didn’t linger at this highpoint for very long, but instead continued a short distance further north where we picked up another animal trail heading towards the eastern highpoint of the ridge. We had to lose a small amount of elevation on this traverse, but travel and navigation were overall very easy.
The eastern ridge was much rockier than the western ridge and deadfall and brush made travelling north along it quite annoying, at least in comparison to the wonderfully open forest we’d enjoyed on the western ridge. The hike was, however, broken up by a long-tailed weasel that played hide-and-seek under a rock on the ridge! With the exception of its black-tipped tail, it was completely white. It’s just the third time I’ve seen one.
Near the northern end of the eastern ridge we reached another highpoint that my GPS indicated was exactly the same height as the western highpoint, and shortly afterwards we turned to the west and started our descent back to the Oldman River Road. I’d assumed this would be easy, but the forest through here was incredibly thick and travel was incredibly tedious. A turn to follow a north-south branch of the ridge improved travel a bit, and when we reached the end of it we found a mysterious cutline or trail of some sort that we eagerly followed nearly all the way back to the road.
The cutline was probably 20 years old and had been well cleared by a chainsaw through otherwise impenetrable forest. The route didn’t make much sense, however, as it unnecessarily went up and down several times, sidehilled when better routes were just 10 m away, and while nearly straight, it wasn’t straight enough to be a survey line. Regardless, it got us through the thickest of the forest and back to the road much quicker than my random bushwhacking route would have. A quick walk later and we were back at our truck. It wasn’t the most exciting of hikes, but it was a wonderful fall day in an area I’m eager to explore more!