We were in Eagle, hanging out at picnic tables next to a gas station, talking about what to do next. It was too early to head back to the campground at Sylvan Lake, but too late to tackle something big. We had always wanted to check out the Dotsero Crater, so we got on our smartphones to figure out where it was. Then we headed off.
We found the road after a bit of trial and error, but it was tucked behind some houses and businesses. We headed up, and the trail was interesting from the start. We were on gray dirt that gave way to gray, little rocks. It made the trail soft, the kind of trail that would be a nightmare on a bicycle.
We saw some smoke from what appeared to be a pretty big fire near us, and then we smelled it. We decided it wasn't close enough to force us to turn back. It was probably the Lost Solar Fire, but we couldn't be sure. It made it pretty smoky for the rest of the afternoon.
We went up a few switchbacks with interesting colors, and then found ourselves at a long fence. There was a big hole to the side of the fence, and trails all over the place. Was this the crater? A quick check with GPS units and we found out that was it. It's basically a big hole with a flat bottom. It's definitely interesting.
We could really tell the difference between the land managed by the forest service and this open land. There were paths all over the place where people were just driving around. Every hillside had tracks going up and down it. We had to guess in a couple of places about which was the actual trail. In the end, we just chose the one that had the major tracks on it.
We came around a corner and found trails all over the place at a huge hill. Monica drove up the main trail up it and obviously didn't have enough momentum. A few yards from the top, the little rocks were very deep and she sunk in like she was on snow. She wasn't going to make it to the top, so she backed down. Then she gave it a lot of gas and powered up, still having to fly up and over the top in order to not get stuck again. Fun!
Matt tried it next, and he got sucked into the same place. He decided to keep working on it, though, and eventually, slowly worked his way through it. It was definitely a tough challenge.
Walt sat at the bottom and decided he wouldn't make it up that particular path. Monica and Matt walked around the top, and found a path that didn't look so deep. Walt gave it a try and cruised right up it, not getting stuck. We were all up!
After the deep quarry hill, the trail immediately changed. The trail became a dirt track with rocks in it, red like the trails we see all the time around Moab. Even the trees looked like Utah trees. It was a sudden and strange change, but we enjoyed the quick, imaginary trip to Utah.
We went through some switchbacks and hills, and then the trail leveled off in a large, open area. There were low bushes, and the air was filled with smoke. We seemed to be right in the path of the smoke from the fire. Our eyes would be burning from it the rest of the weekend, and everyone would cough until we left.
The rest of the trail was nice, and we took the main route through the area. When we finished, we came out to a parking area filled with buggies getting back up on trailers. There must be a tough trail in the area. When we got home, we researched it and found out that the Castle Peak Recreation Area has some pretty serious trails in it. They seem too big for our road vehicles, but we'd like to check them out someday.
The whole area is filled with trails, and we've just scratched the surface. We'd need to come back and see the rest of it some other time. What a great and accidental discovery!
We took the main road back to Gypsum and then headed back to Sylvan Lake and camp. We had a nice time, eating dinner and chatting around the campfire. It was going to be the coldest night during our time there, so we were bundling up and getting ready. It was a great day.