| Bond, James Bond
I attempted the Shav/Tab duo on Saturday. Here's how it went:
I gotta start by mentioning Patti's in Fairplay. I stopped there for dinner on the way down and had the pepperoni calzone. Oh, man, was it fantastic!! Fresh, buttery dough, heaps of good mozzarella and ricotta cheese, good marinara sauce. Oh, yeah!
Anywho, I arrived at the trailhead at 10:30pm with a good, steady rain falling. I drove to one of the many available campsites past the trailhead to turn in for the night. Given my previous experiences trying to sleep in my Sentra, I wasn't too keen on the idea. But I also didn't want to set up the tent in the rain if I didn't have to. So I slept in the car again. But this time, I found a good position and actually got some good REM sleep.
I woke up and found that I had forgotten my spoon and ceramic cup - so no hot oatmeal breakfast for me. Luckily, I had bought some bagels in Buena Vista the night before.
Since I hadn't seen more than two or three cars of campers as I drove up, I was surprised to see that the trailhead parking lot was nearly full at 6:45am. I think I got the last legit parking spot.
I set out at 7:10am in the cool, cloudy morning. I expected the clouds to burn off during the morning, but that didn't happen until I was well on my way back to the car.
The Colorado Trail section was short, but nice. And there were good signs to mark the first two junctions. After, I think, the second junction, you head up a trail of loose rocks - it's almost like a dry stream bed.
After that, there are a few spots where the trail becomes indistinct in the forest - even though the Colorado 14ers Initiative (I suspect) has done a pretty good job of blocking off some potential alternatives with tree trunks and branches. I mention this because I passed at least a couple of people who didn't seem to recognize the non-randomness of the placement of the tree trunks; some intelligent life-form had placed them there for a reason. Also, a number of people (cumulatively across time) don't seem to realize that tree trunks are often placed as boundaries to direct people to walk through the main part of the trail and not along the outer fringes - even if it's a bit rocky and harder on the feet - so as not to widen the footprint left on the land. All in all, the trail was quite good through the forest. Landmarks from Bill's route description - like the big rock with water flowing next to it - are easy to spot.
At treeline, you get a good view of what lies ahead - to Shavano, at least. The trail flattens out a bit until you get up closer to the Angel of Shavano snowfield. There wasn't much of it left.
The Angel of Shavano snowfield and the upper slopes to the saddle
As you get close to the saddle, the trail becomes indistinct again and continues to be that way about half-way across the saddle.
The last pitch is steep and across some talus, but relatively short. Still, as I typically do, I probably stopped about every 40 or 50 feet to catch my breath. I reached the summit at 11:50.
The Home Stretch
"He climbed cathedral mountains; He saw silver clouds below" - JD
The Money Shot
Once up on Shavano and seeing the significance of the saddle to Tabeguache, I decided not to try it. I wasn't worried about the clouds; it was pretty obvious to this non-meteorologist that they were just rain clouds from the night before and the cool morning - not the typical summer afternoon thunderstorm clouds. And I had no doubts that I could make it to Tabeguache; I just wasn't sure I would make it back up that saddle to Shavano a second time. As my dad always says, Know your limits. Unfortunately, this route seems to be the only way to get to Tab, since they closed the Jennings Creek trail. I guess I'll have to find new limits for the next trip. (Edit: Actually, it looks like Roach lists a route from the Browns Creek trailhead that looks like it could be a good backpack trip.)
A leisurely 2.5 hours later, I was back at the car.
I met several people along the way - including two guys (independently) from 14ers.com - LouMan and Spontaneous Weekends. Nice to meet you guys! Also, the main guy from High Mountains Merchandise (Pete) was up there doing some marketing for his site. He got me. I have had the site bookmarked for a while now - I've been meaning to get one of his summit markers, and finally made the purchase this morning.
I stopped at K's burger stand in Buena Vista on the way back. The burger and shake were pretty good but over-priced. Still, I cut them some slack because they mistook me for Sean Connery. (Because it's flattering to be mistaken for a septugenarian Scotsman.) Actually, they have this gimmick where, instead of asking for your name to call out when your order is ready, they just give you the name of a famous person. I guess it's a good way to ensure you have a top-tier clientele.
Music for the trip home: "The Mountain Wins Again" by Blues Traveler
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):