Adventurer | 292 pts
I really enjoyed this trip even though we couldn't complete it. Summer of '05 was just after a particularly snowy winter down there so we were unable to complete the loop. Because of this the initial stream crossing was treacherous, borderline irresponsible. However, that did get us solitude. We didn't see more than 2 other groups of people the rest of the Fourth of July Weekend.
We spent the first night at Black Lake. This lake appears to be sourced from ground water. This made for a stagnant lake with tons of mosquitos and NO FISH. I'd recommend hiking down another 1/2 mile in the meadow. There is plenty of creek tributaries down there for sources of water and I'm guessing the bigger ones have fish. Views of the Rio Grand Pyramid and the "Window" are also possible down here.
Day 2 was where the snow became an issue. We had intended on making it all the way to middle Ute lake, via the La Garita trail, but the snow up to West Ute Lake was terrible. It made the trail invisible, and the last 1/2 to 1 mile up to West Ute Lake a long slog. We spent the night at West Ute lake (here's a sunrise photo I took the next morning: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/118/291275621_6eea075469_o.jpg)
Day 3 we hiked to the top of the ridge between West Ute Lake and Middle Ute lake. The snow looked just as bad in the other drainages and rather than risk the trip, we headed out the way we came in.
Wildlife was awesome. We saw lots of elk... probably a herd of over 100 in the meadow heading towards Mt. Nebo. We camped in this meadow on night 3 and had a long 11+ mile hike out on Day 4. I highly recommend this trip but check to see about snow fall from the previous winter. You may need to put your trip off until late July.