We were almost to the trailhead when we finally picked Mike up on the CB. He managed to go to Steamboat Springs and find someone to rebuild his driveshaft, and then come back to meet us almost at the Wyoming border, all before mid-afternoon. Wow! Luckily, we saved lunch for when we found him and we took a spur not too far from the Elkhorn Mountain trailhead to stop for lunch. It wasn't the most scenic lunch, but the weather was nice and we were all together again.
We were on the very beginnings of the trail back in 2006 when we were there before, but the first hill turned us back. It was too snowy and we couldn't climb to the top. We didn't know what to expect from the rest of the trail at that point, so we turned back. It wasn't long before we realized that we had decided wisely years ago.
We went around the mine and climbed the hill that turned us away before. It was steep, and it looked like we had almost made it to the top. But soon after that there was another hill and we climbed our way to the top of Elkhorn Mountain. The views were nice, and we stopped to soak it in for a little while.
After that, we started down the long and large decent. If that had been covered in the same amount of snow when we were there before we would have been in trouble, most likely. There were very few flat and open spots to stop a slide.
We enjoyed our snow-free decent this time, though. We didn't see anyone else on their way up, so it was easy. We found lots of different and awesome scenery, including a spot covered in ferns like we've never seen in Colorado. It was different than anything we'd seen so far that weekend.
We saw a pond on the topo maps just off the trail, so we pulled to the side at the wide spot there. There was no pond, just a marshy hole. And we had apparently found the place where people dump their trash. It was a mess. There were also three holes arranged like a huge dinosaur print, and we had fun telling stories about that.
We moved on, and it wasn't long before we came out to the end of the trail. We saw an old cabin with ponds in front of it, and we realized that the whole area was groomed. It was absolutely beautiful, but it looked a little odd out in the middle of nowhere.
We came around the corner from there and saw the Three Forks Ranch and the beautiful valley it's in. We all talked about how perfect it would be to stay there, but we knew we couldn't afford it. Still, it's nice to dream.
Just after leaving the trail we saw a rainbow over Elkhorn Mountain and it seemed like something the Three Forks Ranch would have turned on every evening at that time. It was all just impossibly scenic.
This trail suddenly became one of our favorites because of the scenery, the isolation, and the fun climbs and descents. We'll definitely find our way there again. We headed south on highway 129.