| Beautiful hike
We climbed Shavano on Monday, July 29. We had a hard time deciding on this one. The trip length and elevation gain were daunting. We had only done some easy ones like Quandary, Democrat, Bross, Huron and Belford. We come from sea level (NC, VA and KS) and do a family reunion in CO every two years.
But we were staying in the valley just north of Poncha Springs, and it was literally staring us in the face! I climbed with my boyfriend, my 19 year old niece, and my 72 year old father Ron – this was to be his last Fourteener.
We left for the trailhead at 5:20, and got there just as the sun rose. The first part of the hike was really nice. We were amazed at all of the large fallen trees that had been cut to clear the trail; there must have been some serious destruction here at some point. Seemed like it took a long time to reach treeline, but the aspen forest was incredible on the way.
From there, the route was clear and the trail could not have been better.
Once on the saddle, the strong wind from the West was unexpected and difficult. At this point my niece and boyfriend were well ahead of us, while I was hanging back with my Dad. I stopped to put on some more clothes, and put away my trekking poles since my hands were numb.
The excellent trail continued almost to the summit; then the route up through the talus was difficult for me. There was a trail, but I found it hard to follow. Excellent cairns were there at strategic places, and I honestly believe that without these cairns, I would not have made the summit. THANK YOU to the folks who have left those cairns!
At about this point my boyfriend was peering at me from the summit, which was encouraging. And I made it the rest of the way, Dad close behind me.
We met some folks who were hightailing it over to Tabeguache. Two of them asked if we planned to summit it as well, but I was just happy to make it to the top of Shavano.
I met an interesting guy having a celebratory beer, who was doing his 6th Fourteener – one every Monday for the past 6 weeks. Kudos to him! I always like to ask more experienced folks which was their favorite summit. His was LaPlata.
The way down off the summit was much easier, as I could now actually see the well-worn trail. The hike over the saddle and across the side of the mountain to treeline was heavenly. Then came the hike through the forest on what I called “the river of rock.” Seemed interminable, and was hard on the knees. Happily I had the best company and good conversation to make it easier.
Then came an interesting complication. We had two-way radios. My niece called up to us – we were assuming she was already back at the car. She said, “Remember the bridge we crossed? There is a problem.” (We didn't remember said bridge, but indulged her … thinking maybe our vehicle was stranded. Turns out she meant cattle guard.) Silence for some time. Then, “There are baby calves,, and momma cows and some bulls, and they have charged at me twice. They are pissed off.” Still thinking she was at the trailhead lot, we encouraged her to get into the back of someone's truck, the bathroom, climb a tree, etc. Some tense moments passed and then she radioed “I chased them off. Let me know if you have problems and I'll come help.”
Everything else was uneventful and we had a happy reunion at the car.
I am sooooo proud of my father. I will never forget the day we were at a ranger station many years ago, looking at hikes. He said, "How about doing one of these 14ers?" Since we only get to CO every two years, each one has been carefully planned and incredible. I am happy and proud that I got to do this last one with him. Shavano was good to us.
Also, this was my boyfriend's first. We are talking/planning/saving for more. I want to do LaPlata, and the view of Bierstadt from Guanella Pass is calling to me.
GPS showed 9.2 miles round trip, and 5,200 ft elevation gain.
This was a beautiful hike, with an exciting summit. I highly recommend this one.
The trailhead is easily reached by any passenger car, and there is a good trail almost all the way to the summit.
Also if you are in the Salida/Poncha Springs area you should check out Mt. Ouray. Trailhead from the East is possible for a passenger car as well, and we saw no one that whole day. Very cool hike.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):