After completing a very pleasant scramble / hike on Etherington-Baril Ridge I stupidly decided that I should cap off a perfect day with a jaunt up something named, "Hell's Ridge". What was I thinking?! It could be convincingly argued that I was so overcome with the powerful elixirs of Spring that I wasn't thinking at all...
Right off the bat I have to point out that I may not have actually made the highest point on Hell's Ridge. Ooops. After coming home and reading Bob Spirko's south end of Hell's Ridge trip report, I think I should have traversed the ridge further south - which he claims is 35 meters higher. The reason I didn't is due to the Gaia map, which indicates the summit being exactly where I hiked up to and is why I stopped there. I believe this is largely due to Cornelius Rott's trip report and GPS track which is the one used on the Gaia maps. Such is the life of non-official summits and ridges, I suppose. I'm still claiming the summit, despite the fact that I likely wasn't on the high point and I didn't even traverse the "ridge". Sue me.
[It looked so dry from the Etherington Provincial Recreation Area...]
There's really not much to say about Hell's Ridge other than it wasn't as bad as I expected, even though it was pretty much the opposite of everything that made Etherington Baril Ridge awesome. Whereas E-B Ridge was a snow free ascent with kick butt views the entire way up, Hell's ridge was an isothermal snow slog up to knee deep in thick matchstick forest until the very top. I left the forestry service road right near the entrance to the Etherington Creek Provincial Recreation Area near the bridge over Etherington Creek and immediately followed the wrong path for about 200 meters before noticing my error. Basically if you're not bushwhacking up a shallow gully within 5 minutes of the road, you're off route on this one.
[Turn near the rocks, uphill to the right. Into the bush.]
[I followed this obvious path for 100m or so before realizing I wasn't on route.]
Once I figured out my error, I was happy to note fresh snowshoe tracks that I could take advantage of. I strapped on the 'shoes and proceeded up through reasonable forest. Eventually the forest became somewhat unreasonable in the delightful form of very tight matchstick trees, but I followed the 'shoe tracks and stubbornly decided I was doing this hike no matter what. Part of the reason for my stubbornness was the fact that the morning hike on Etherington - Baril Ridge hadn't closed the exercise ring on my iWatch yet... Damn Tim Cook - making me work out more than reasonable on a gorgeous Saturday when I could be at home on the deck by now!!
[On route now, following pretty fresh 'shoe tracks. I know they're fresh because I parked behind their vehicle...]
[If this doesn't look appealing to you, maybe do the ridge route on Hell's Ridge or avoid it altogether. ++]
Finally after an hour or so of easy Type 1.5 "fun" I finally broke my snowshoe while ascending dirt (don't ask) and had to walk the rest of the way, which included wading through shin deep slushy snow which was a lot easier than expected. I ascended an open patch of dirt with decent views before arriving at the "summit" that apparently isn't really the "summit" afterall. I enjoyed much better-than-expected views before plunging back down through the forest and snow again - this time without the 'shoes.
[It's not all horrible. The trees were nice and cool as was the slurpee quality snow.]
[Some surprising views over the Forestry Trunk Road towards Coyote Hill, and Mount Armstrong and MacLaren.]
[Finally some dirt!]
[Mist Mountain and Eagle Ridge in the far distance up a still closed hwy 40.]
[Some decent views from the "summit" include Raspberry Ridge and Etherington Baril Ridge in the foreground with the High Rock Range in the distance. ++]
[The High Rock Range stretches along the Continental Divide to the west and includes (L to R), Bolton, Armstrong, MacLaren, Strachan, Muir, McPhail, Horned and Mount Bishop. ++]
[Mount Muir with McPhail rising to its right in the background.]
[One more view towards the Highwood Pass area and Mist Mountain over Junction Hill.]
Descent was quick and soon I was back at the truck. To be honest, the Hell's Ridge traverse looks pretty decent from the road - and looked pretty dry on its west side already. Perhaps someday I'll go back for it, but likely not until I'm at least 87 and have lost any sanity I might have had before then.