Two o' Clock Ridge
David Thompson Country
Time: 6 hours
Distance: 11 km (return)
Elevation Gain: 1,128 m
How To Get There: From Turner Valley, turn on AB-546 W and stay on that road for 29.5 km. Turn right on George Creek Road (dirt road) and keep going for about 4-5 km to the barricade and then turn left to park at the George Creek day use area.
It was a beautiful sunny week day so I decided to hit the road and find out what David Thompson Country had to offer. I wanted something difficult with great views but the early season limited me. Two o' clock ridge seemed like my best bet. The trail starts at Two O'Clock Creek campground, close to the bathrooms.
The trail was obvious and easy to follow, starting off flat among open bush filled with poplar, spruce and pine trees.
Prairie Crocus were everywhere, as if to agree with the clear sunny sky that spring was finally here.
The trail begins to meander up rolling hills before crossing over Two O'Clock Creek and moving higher up, providing adequate views of Rhine Peak and Stan Waters Peak.
The path nestles itself in a grove of spruce tree saplings before continuing onto an exposed and stony knoll, gradually making it's way past old burnt timber.
Finally the trail turns upwards into the trees, staying on the west side of the ridge and allowing a rare glimpse of the creek below.
Elevation gain becomes severe at this point and the looser ground provides an additional challenge.
I passed a few small hoodoos before the trail moves in and out of the trees.
The biggest benefit of the trail moving upwards at an unrelenting pace is the fact that as I took several glances behind me, the views only got better and better.
I got my first glimpse of the top of the ridge as I found my way onto a short-grass clearing. There, I was greeted with several spruce grouse. The male grouse's plumage was especially impressive.
Two O'Clock Ridge is a great objective for an early season hike but that doesn't mean you won't find yourself knee deep in snow at certain parts. As the elevation increased and the pine trees remained, the snow began to pile up.
The pine needle covered trail climbed and climbed, twisting in and out of coniferous trees, remaining the entire time on the west side.
At times, it was difficult to keep track of the trail as it hid behind trees and more piles of snow.
After what seemed like a never-ending path up a series of smaller rises, the trees very slowly began to clear and the ground once again began to loosen.
I picked my way through the shale and found my way to the top of the smaller ridge. A little cairn greeted me, along with a sudden gale of wind.
Once I set my sights on the second, much larger ridge, the path faded away to alpine grass and wildflowers.
My companions (besides the brisk wind) on my climb up consisted of a bunch of boulders and a beautiful pair of white-tailed ptarmigan. It was fascinating getting such an up close look at the birds as I had never seen their species before.
Both the trail and the snow returned as I got closer to the summit and I ended up having to traverse around the south end of the final climb in order to avoid sinking to my waist.
The scree turned to talus before I finally reached the summit of the ridge, marked by another cairn.
The views surrounding Two o'Clock Ridge are nothing short of amazing, the best I had seen in David Thompson Country thus far in my travels.
I found a small rock wall that shielded me from the wind, sat down and enjoyed my lunch. The entire time I was on the ridge, there wasn't another soul in sight and the world seemed to belong entirely to myself. Snow capped many of the surrounding ranges and the air still had that cold nip that only the remnants of winter can bring.
I finished eating, took one last look around me and then begrudgingly began to head back down, being careful as I hopped from one large boulder to the next. The views are just as great as you move back towards the trail-head and I took a quick video to capture what I had to look at almost the entire return.
It's often hard to find a good shoulder season hike after a long winter and this one is absolutely perfect. It scratches that hard to reach spring itch to safely reach a summit and gain beautiful views along the way. It's definitely not easy and my legs were feeling it for a few days after, but that's just part of the fun!