There are many reasons why we no longer try to plan more than about a week ahead of time. We find the locals have much better knowledge than our maps. We had a couple trails in mind to head towards Lake Vallecito, but when we got advice from Ed who knew the area, plans changed once again. He made a phone call to verify his ideas with a friend that in summary went like this:
Ed- “This is the most direct trail- have you been on it lately?”
Ed- “How about this trail instead?”
Friend- “Well, if you know the way, you can find it….”
Ed ended up directing us on a trail that was less than direct, but wouldn’t be much different in miles than taking the road. It was the only “good” trail option. He helped us find the entrance to the trail since it was a little tricky and not marked, then we wound our way up and up the mountain.
I love how well trails are marked. (dripping with sarcasm) We zig-zagged up the mountainside, came to a “Y” with another post with missing sign, and had to guess. We chose the uphill route. It fizzled into nothing after a while. We could see the trail a ways up the steep hill, didn’t want to go all that ways back just to do more switchbacks to get to where we could see right above us…… so we bushwhacked straight up! Richard and I led the horses and scrambled up- all of us totally out of breath by the top. I think Chance is wondering “who are these people and what have they done with my easy life?!”
Then the trail was really nice for a while with lots more views of colorful aspen as well as glimpses of all 4 states in the 4 corners area. We came to another sketchy section of dropoff- the trail was literally carved out of a rock ledge- but at least it was short. Then came the roadblocks.
The whole area looked like a blackened toothpick forest- no branches or leaves- just burnt trunks. And some had fallen in the trail. We were able to get around or over most of them. Then we came to one huge one about three and a half feet in diameter. It was getting late in the afternoon and we knew it would take us hours to cut through it- so we either had to go back our get around somehow. We scoped out the steep hillside below and decided to make a go for it. It was difficult for the horses to maneuver through and the bottom end of the tree was still really big, but we had to get over it if we were to get around. So we decided to see if the horses could do it. They all did fine until short little Tiska. She got her front legs over and got stuck on her belly! But she has a big heart- so she leaned back, felt the ground with her back feet, and gave a mighty lunge and managed to get over. We all had a couple scratches from the ordeal, but nothing too major. If this was the “good” trail- I’m glad we didn’t try the bad one!