We were off of the day's plan, exploring the area by heading off down roads that looked interesting. We took off down one road that pointed the way to Black Mountain Lake, but unfortunately it ended up being a mellow dirt road and not a real trail. Fortunately, the views at the lake were nice and we found a great place there to stop for lunch.
After lunch, we headed back out to the main road and continued along to Heart Lake. The signs pointed the way, and there were people camping in RVs at the trailhead. We were already aired down so we headed off to explore the trail. Mike had already been on the trail once with Roger, and he was looking forward to doing it again. We made the end of Wager Gulch our goal and we were on our way.
We found another vehicle headed our way almost immediately, and passing was challenging but we got by each other. We weaved our way around rocks and across streams, and it was a fun and weird time. At times it seemed almost unearthly, and the views were pretty cool. The view of the residential areas around Pearl Lakes was also a sight to see. It would be an amazing place to live.
We started climbing and the climb was fun. It was dry, so nothing was too much of a challenge. We went into stands of trees and back out of them as we climbed.
There were only a few intersections and they were all marked. We kept following signs to Heart Lake, and route finding was easy. We found the hiking trail without any issues, and continued past it to find the trail pretty much ended. The legal part of the trail ends at the hiking trail, so we turned around.
The overlook fit all of us easily, and the views were awesome. The lake was pretty far below us, and no one was up for the hike down the steep hill. We took pictures instead, which was enough. You could really see for miles.
We followed signs to Lake City after viewing Heart Lake. The trail took us above timberline and the scenery became more "Alpine," which we always enjoy. It's the reason we come to the San Juan Mountains, and it was gorgeous.
We came across a rental Jeep on one of our hill climbs across the tundra, and they had come from the Cinnamon Pass trail at the end of the Wager Gulch trail. We chatted a bit and then headed up higher.
We stopped for a bit at the very top, enjoying the views. We all pointed out areas below us where we had been the day before, on the Wager Gulch trail. We also noted the hiking trail that intersected with our trail in spots.
We ran down the hill to the intersection where Bob decided to take Wager Gulch back to town. The rest of us headed back the way we came in. We took another spur to loop back to the trailhead, but it was pretty narrow in places and seemed designed for ATVs. It wasn't marked, though. Next time we'd probably just stay on the main road.
Just before getting to the valley, Monica heard an odd noise. Everyone stopped and her front track bar bolt was found missing. It explained the previously nerve-wracking experience on the highway earlier in the day, and the bolt had probably been missing since Jarosa Mesa. Luckily, the bolt had wandered off before so she carried a spare. We enjoyed the cool temperatures in the sunshine and it was a quick fix to get rolling again.
When we got to the trailhead we had a meeting to discuss the rest of the evening. It was late in the afternoon, and there was probably time to do another trail. But it was getting chilly as the sun went down and the thought of dinner in Lake City at a decent time was calling to us. We decided to call it a night and we headed back for town.
It ended up being a great day even though things didn't go anything like we planned them. It makes for an adventurous day, and we were happy to find trails we'd definitely do again.