Pathfinder | 130 pts
I took the Black Bear trail, starting at Ralston Roost Trailhead 1/4 mile from Visitor's Center. Original plan was: Black Bear to Mule Deer to Horseshow to Ralston Roost Trailhead, for a total of 5 miles. The trail climbs at a decent rate, gaining 1100' in about 2 miles. All of the trail is beautifully forested, pine and groves of aspen, except for the rocks on top of Ralston Roost (9334'). The ascent gets tricky with some hands-on scrambling and easy climbing when the trail goes over a rocky area below the summit. The descent on the North side of the top has numerous switchbacks, and, being not too well-trodden, is not quite well-enough marked and hard to follow. So it's understandable that I switched and failed to back - I lost the trail and had to bushwack with compass & topo down the side about a half-mile to get to the eventual descent trail (Horseshoe trail) in a drainage bottom. A throughly enjoyable and invigorating hike. On a balmy November weekday, I didn't see another soul on the trail. Solitude at its best! Next time it's overnite.