Otter Mountain 12766'
Mount Wilcox 13408'
Argentine Peak 13738'
Mount Edwards 13850'
Silver Dollar Lake TH ~11200'
~12miles/4800' gain, class 2
The turnoff to the Silver Dollar Lake TH is at about 8.6 miles, measuring from the turn onto the Guanella Pass Road. I've never seen the road in better shape, and it was snow-free as well. It is another 0.7 miles to the TH - passable today with high clearance, as there is some snow.
Started at 6:50am and lost the trail fairly quickly, so I just aimed for Naylor Lake(1/2 mile from the TH) via GPS. I then skirted around the lake to the right and ascended bare slopes. As I climbed, I decided to change my plan a little. Originally, I had planned to do Arg/Ed/Arg/Wil/Otter. Now I decided to do Otter first, since it was relatively close, and I knew I'd be tempted to skip it at the end!
As I reached about 12000', I surprised 3 deer and a mountain goat. The deer retreated casually, but the goat sprinted for 1/2 mile until he was out of sight. Nearing the Wilcox/Otter saddle, I dropped my pack and walked up Otter's mostly bare slopes at 8:25am. The hike was great for views, as I could see the surrounding peaks from different vantage points.
Returning to my pack, I headed up Wilcox, which had enough snow to be bothersome. I brought my axe and snowshoes, but didn't use them all day. Hit Wilcox at 9:50am, taking a 20 minute break before departing.
The stretch between Wilcox and Argentine had more snow yet, but I still didn't find it necessary to break out the gear. Summitted Argentine at 11:30am, taking another 15 minutes to rest. Aside from the snow, this really didn't feel like late October. It was sunny most of the day, until some clouds floated in during the late afternoon. The continental divide was breezy, but strong winds were only sporadic. I was happy to leave my pack on Argentine, stuffing my camera, a Nalgene, and gummy bears into my coat for the trip to Edwards.
Portions of the Argentine-Edwards traverse had over a foot of snow, but there were still plenty of bare sections. I skirted a false summit below Argentine Peak. The ridge to Edwards has a few bumps, too, but they looked worse than they really were. The final slope to Edwards' summit was mostly bare, and I reached the day's high point at 1:20pm, 1hr 35min from Argentine.
I enjoyed the view of Torreys, wondering if I would be foolish to try Kelso ridge next month. When I returned to Argentine Pass, I saw fresh prints - human and canine. They seemed to go to Argentine Pk, but I never saw another hiker all day long. Re-summitted Argentine at 2:40pm, the return leg having gone a little quicker.
On portions of the descent I fought the willows, but they were snowfree and little challenge. I walked around the right side of Naylor Lake, thus completing a loop, while trying to heed the NO TRESPASSING signs. I met up with the caretaker of the Naylor fishing and boating club, who was very friendly and said that many folks have trouble finding the Silver Dollar Lake trail. I then availed myself of their road to return all the way to my car at 4:45pm.