Today was our weekend day, and we went on a hike to Opal Lake in the nearby San Juan National Forrest. It turns out the lake is only 1.5 miles from the trailhead where we parked, but we didn’t know that setting out. We were told by those who had been there before that “they didn’t think there was a fork in the trail, but if there was, it would be obvious. Just follow the trail.”
So we did. We started as a group, but some quickly forged ahead, others kept a more moderate pace, and the Smith family (with three kids under four, soon to be four kids under four) and a few others helping them brought up the rear. Unfortunately, it turned out everyone who had been there before was in the last group, so those plunging ahead through the trees didn’t really know where they were going. Neither did I, as my group was following pretty closely behind them.
We kept hiking, going further and further, expecting the lake to appear just beyond this ridge. Or the one after this one or the one after the tenth one. Finally we hear voices coming through the quiet serenity of the aspen grove we’re walking through, and we assume it must be just ahead. Then we turn around and realize the voices are coming from behind us, from Eric and Jonathan. They had run to catch us after having arrived at the lake and not finding everyone there, as those that were far ahead should be.
It turns out we hiked about an extra three miles. All in all, it was worth it, despite being tired and sore at the time. We got to see two beautiful meadows and the aspen groves we went through were awesome, much cooler than the lake, the object of our searching actually was.
When we made it back to the fork and found the sign flat on the ground by the pile of rocks, Rosie and I who were hiking together both commented we hadn’t even noticed it going up. We were so focused on getting up that hill that we didn’t pause to see where the trail turned off. It seems the little things not quickly noticed can sometimes have great impact…