| Southern Sawatch Sunrise
Southern Sawatch Sunrise
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
- Lao Tzu
There are a lot of things that draw me to the mountains, but nothing is quite as satisfying as the change experienced in the mountains. The change of the temperature throughout the day, the change of the position of the sun, or even the change of your odor throughout the day; whatever your thing is, the mountains are constantly changing. The change breaks the monotony of the repetitive lifestyle that I tend to catch myself living in the "real world"
Not only are changes happening on the mountain during the day, but my life is changing from being in the mountains; for the better I like to think.
In 2011, I attempted the Shavano and Tabeguache Traverse with my good friend Loren. We knew absolutely nothing about mountains and made the summit of Shavano by 1PM. A storm cloud was shrouding our summit, but we decided to enjoy the moment; it was only my 3rd 14er at the time. We decided not to try Tabeguache not because the storm over our head, but because our legs were too tired from the ascent to possibly go any further. I remember Shavano being the hardest thing I had ever physically done in my life
2011 - Lol.
Fast-Forward 2 years, 26 14ers, and some questionable facial hair, I finally get the chance to go back to Shavano and Tabeguache. I had been planning on doing a peak on the night of the 22nd because I knew the Moon would be near "Super" status so we could hike at night, and Brandon wanted to get back to the 14er Checklist, so we decided the Shav/Tab combo would be a good choice for the Moon hike.
We ended up bringing a group of about a dozen to the trailhead the night before. That's a lotta people. One of which was one of my trusty Summit Partners, Jake. We had a "blast" doing the Columbia/Harvard Traverse in the Fall of 2012, and we're looking forward to another Sawatch twofer. We stormed up from Golden at about 5, and made it to the trailhead camping area about 8.
Moonrise on our way to the campsite
Aspen Grove Campsite
Planning for the next day kind of put us in a pickle. I became a bit selfish and wanted to hike with a big group, hike under the full moon, catch the sunrise, not sit on the summit waiting for the sun to rise, and to get a good nights sleep. I knew I had to sacrifice one.. The sleep had to go.
Jake and I hit the hay at 10:30 with the alarm set for a 2AM wakeup
Moonrise after Sunset
Our party of 12 or so made it to the trailhead to start our hike at 2:30. Jake had told me had done a 30 mile hike earlier this Summer, so I knew he would be keeping a quick pace for the day. After nearly missing the Shav/Tab Fork from the Colorado Trail, we began the the steep ascent through the dark forest with our headlamps and the help of the Moon.
Slogging through the forest took Jake and I about an hour and a half until we broke treeline. The Moon lit up the slopes of Shavano and illuminated our long, rocky trail to the saddle beneath Shavano.
Once we reached the saddle, the winds picked up and the temperature was a droppin! I had to throw on the long underwear before we made our way up and beyond Shavano. Jake and I had broken away from the group quite a bit earlier in the hike, and were surprised to see 2 dark silhouettes appear behind us coming up from the saddle. Jen and Hank were part of the big group, but had broken away from the group like Jake and I, and were storming their way up to the summit of Shavano. Jake and I wheezed our way up the slopes to catch up with them on the summit to catch the sun rise
We topped out at 5:10AM, and I was chilly to say to the least. Jake, Jen, Hank and I decided to make our way over to Tabeguache to heat us back up while we waited for the Sun to pop out
Early Crew on Shavano
It was pretty amazing to see the Moonset to the West and the Sunrise to the East as we made our way from Shavano to Tabeguache
Descending towards Tabeguache
Moonset and Tabeguache
Almost Super.. Almost
The hike over to Tabeguache was not only beautiful, but extremely satisfying to cross after having to turn back from it 2 years ago. The descent from Shavano was quick, and the ascent of Tabeguache was pretty fun. The snow field that is left near the summit had the same consistency as cement, and made these hand-held sized flute holds that I played along on my way to the Summit. We made it to Tabeguache by 6:00 AM. My 30th 14er
Tabeguache's first visitors of the day
Going back to Shavano was fun part of the hike for me because this was the point I was starting to get loopy from the lack of sleep, so I let my mind wander as I pushed myself up the 500 feet back to the summit of Shavano. I was greeted by the 8 or so other members of our party who were willing to participate in the biggest summit group photo I've ever taken
At this point in the day, I was feeling surprisingly chipper. I munched on some of my classic cold pizza and decided to join the rest of the group on their way over to Tabeguache. I was in absolutely no rush, and figured, hey, I could use the workout if I ever want to get on Dillon Sarnelli's level
Back over to Tabeguache
Pikes Peak in the last layer
We made it to the summit of Tab at sometime between 8 and 12.. I kinda lost track of time at this point. We enjoyed the summit we had to ourselves, took our Which-Which pictures, and took plenty of other dumb photos. It was probably 65 degrees and windless. The Sawatch has been very friendly to me this year
The rest of the day was spent enjoying the sun, the good company, the good views, and the wonderful wildflowers that were strewn about the hillsides
Big Ol' Bumbler
Shavano from the Saddle
Last of the Angel
Back To Camp
And after enjoying our adventure in the Sawatch, I started to realize and appreciate the change that I've gone through since starting this lofty goal of climbing The 58 Colorado 14ers. And even though I've changed as a climber, hiker, photographer, or student, I'm still lucky enough to have the same sense of adventure as I did when I was young. My love for the 14ers isn't for the satisfaction to complete them all, but more to feed that adventure hungry soul that I've had my whole life living in Colorado. With only 1 more Sawatch 14er to go, I know there are going to be a lot of amazing climbs coming in my near future
On the next to climb list:
Castle & Conundrum
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):