| Tab/Shav from Browns Creek TH
Just to preface this report, I'm not normally the TR type, but there was not a lot of info out there about this route, so I thought I'd do my part for those who are interested. For the most part we followed Roach's description, but deviated when it made our day easier. This route follows the Browns Creek Trail to Browns Lake. Just past the lake, leave the trail and cross a meadow, on the other side of which is a log bridge across Browns Creek. If you skirt to the right of the two white rocks, the bridge is very easy to find. Near the creek there is a plethora of great camping.
On the other side of the bridge, you have a short bushwhack through the woods. From here you need to enter any of the large rock chutes near tree line. It doesn't matter which you choose as they all converge eventually and lead you to a gully between Tabeguache and Point 13,712. From here the route is obvious, but steep and in many places loose.
After spending the last week of June in a Colorado Academy of History seminar and the better part of the first week of July in Iowa, I was ready to end my mountain drought. While still in Iowa, I spoke with my buddy Jon who was planning a two day trip to summit Tabeguache and Shavano via the Browns Creek TH. Since I was weathered off these two peaks a few weeks ago, I was eager to get back to that area. So it was that I cut my Iowa trip short and set off Thursday morning, embarking on the Iowa-Colorado Traverse via the dreaded I-80 Nebraska Wasteland Route.
Jon and I left Greeley midmorning Friday and were on the trail early that afternoon. After two weeks of sloth and one week of gluttonous eating and drinking, my mind was trail ready, but my body was not. After the initial difficult minutes, my body and mind were in sync and we were blazing along the trail, quickly covering the roughly six miles and 2700 feet to Browns Lake.
The trail to Browns Lake is wide, well-maintained, and obvious all the way to the lake.
Believing that we could not have possibly been at the lake already, we kept going another 1/2 mile or so up the trail before checking the map. After realizing (or reaffirming) our idiocy, we hiked back to the lake and set off in search of the log bridge. We soon found it, scouted our route for the morning, and returned to set up camp.
If you leave the trail just past the lake and head just to the right of these rocks, the bridge is right in front of you.
Here is the log bridge (just in case you've never seen one before).
The following morning, I awoke to very chilly air and a sunrise unlike any I have ever seen.
After a quick breakfast, we made our way through the woods and into one of the chutes.
The chutes lead to the base of this gully on the NE side of Tabeguache.
We entered the gully and headed up the scree slopes to a grass shoulder and talus field that form Tabeguache's east ridge. The going here was slow, but steady and the views were very rewarding.
We gained the ridge and passed the false summit, summiting Tabeguache just before 8:00. We hung around for twenty minutes or so, took some pics, hurricane of course, and headed for Shavano shortly after 8:00.
Hurricane on the summit of Tabeguache.
We skirted the south slopes of Tabegauche and made our way to the saddle between it and Shavano. Shavano's north ridge was solid talus, making for quick and easy hiking. Once on the summit, we took a bit more time to enjoy the beautiful day and talk with some of the others on the summit. These were the first people we had seen since about three miles into the Browns Creek Trail the previous day.
Hurricane on Shavano's summit.
After 30 or 40 minutes on the summit, we headed back to the saddle, where a nice glissade down the east gully took us close to the grass shoulder. From here, we descended roughly the same route we ascended.
Once back at camp, we took a few minutes to relax and filter water before breaking camp and packing out to the TH. When all was said and done, we had hiked around 19 miles and gained nearly 6,000 feet. After hiking much of the standard route, I much prefer this one and highly recommend it if you have the time.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):