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Opal Lake and Fish Creek Trails, CO
mini location map2021-09-26
37 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Opal Lake and Fish Creek Trails, CO 
Opal Lake and Fish Creek Trails, CO
Hiking7.30 Miles 1,215 AEG
Hiking7.30 Miles   4 Hrs   7 Mns   1.89 mph
1,215 ft AEG      15 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
1st trip
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Pagosa Springs, CO - September 2021 - Hike #8
The last of our Colorado hikes this trip would be the most enjoyable. It was a steady but easy climb with plenty of scenic views over a wide variety of terrain.

Although the drive was a longer distance than to Quartz Ridge, we'd been out here two days ago and the road was it great shape. There were a few vehicles at the trailhead which appeared to have been there overnight, so we didn't expect to see many hikers today.

The hike was easy enough to Opal Lake with just a minor challenge was crossing the creek without getting wet. We took the obligatory photos at the lake then on the short jaunt back to Fish Creek Trail we heard the first of what will be a hoard of hikers. (It turns out the huge majority just hike the 2.5-mile roundtrip to the lake and back.) Not wishing to meet a gaggle of hikers at the creek crossing we took the equestrian route, which presented a bit tougher challenge to stay dry but with a little ingenuity we both made it across just fine.

From there we continued on the Fish Creek Trail heading for Lake 9747, which was our planned lunch-break/turn-around point. At one point we encountered a bad smell, initially thinking it was a dead animal but due to a slight breeze coming up from a marshy area it seemed that was more likely the cause. We had the trail to ourselves until about halfway back, when we encountered a couple with a dog, immediately followed by group of three equestrians with two dogs, followed another couple with a dog. Between the four dogs there would be some uneasiness, with more than one person saying "oh don't worry they won't bite". Thankfully neither Tracey nor I have any issues with well-behaved dogs (not that any of these were) so we pretty much ignored them all and kept going.

Once back on the Opal Lake Trail we will encounter groups of hikers going in both directions... meeting those on the way TO the lake and catching/passing those on the return trip. Of course most hikers we caught on the return trip appeared to be the least prepared... dragging along out-of-breath, out of water, urging their panting/tongue-hanging out dogs, one carrying their dog, etc. We encountered at least 60 hikers on the day along with well over a dozen dogs.

Back at the trailhead we found out it must be a popular Sunday hike as it was a disaster area... vehicles parked at all angles, some blocking others, one so tight behind us I couldn't open the rear hatch so we just tossed everything into the back seat as quickly as possible and took off before a few vehicles which were about to leave. Having been behind bog-slow drivers on dirt roads a number of times in the last week, we weren't taking any chances. Good thing I had parked at the trailhead parking entrance facing out for just such an event.

As far as being the most enjoyable of our hikes, I mean only meant physically and scenic-wise, not by the amount of people and dogs we encountered as we would have done just fine without any of them. Yup, we're pretty much anti-social when it comes to hikes... scenery is so much more enjoyable without people jabbering and dogs barking.
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