| Two A Days For Two Days
First, thanks to everyone at 14ers.com for their feedback for this hike:
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find anyone to hike with me on Thursday and the lady-boss said no hiking alone for this trip which is good advice.
Fortunately, I was able to round up some friends for Friday and Saturday. Because of this, my plans changed quite a bit but it turned out to be a good thing. I originally wrote down times, distances and elevation for some of the pairings we'd come up with and it looked pretty brutal. Long story short: Shav/Tab on Friday - Columbia/Harvard on Saturday.
Drove up with two of my buddies Thursday evening. Favorite joint in Buena Vista, Pizza Works, hit the spot once again along with the necessary PBR.
Drove to the Shav/Tab trailhead and set up camp in the dark. Ended up camping right in the parking lot, close to the "Do not camp here" signs. I still have some leftover teen angst against the man (aka - was too lazy to hike in and find a spot). I have never slept in complete silence like this. Pretty amazing until we heard a chainsaw in the distance background around 2am. Interesting time to be chopping trees/stalking hikers with a mask on.
My friend made it in with no issues in his Pontiac Vibe. His Vibe is standard - no AWD or Eddie Bauer editions available.
Got up at 5am and some more friends met up after driving in from Evergreen. On the trail around 5:45, up to Shavano, over to Tabeguache and back. Beautiful day, no snow. Only note is that the ridge up to Shav had some of the most heavy winds I've been in. I was knocked off balance a few times but my ninja skills kept me on my feet. On the way back it calmed down quite a bit so didn't have to deal with any more wind drama.
Back to the trailhead by 3pm. I would say we were hiking and breaking a bit more than normal so this time estimate could be a little slow for some people. Our group would probably fall in the "average" category for this one.
We made our way back to Buena Vista for some burgers from a diner like setup on Main St. Good stuff and delicious chocolate milk shake.
Two of us stuck around while everyone else headed home. My buddy went to take a cheap shower and I made my way to the Columbia/Harvard trailhead (I never stink).
Oh, something I forgot to mention - I had cell service at the Shav/Tab trailhead (Verizon) but didn't have it at Col/Harv. I don't call all my girlfriends while in the wilderness, but it's nice to know in case something goes wrong.
Built a fire and talked over our route for the next day. He had Roach's book that suggested doing Harvard then Columbia. My route (suggested by someone on this site) suggested the other direction. We decided to go the way I had printed out from SummitPost and it was the right decision for us.
Heard some of our other friends drive in around 11pm. The Vibe would have not made it to this traihead as there are some sections that require some clearance. If you have crazy skillz, I‘m sure you could get a passenger car all the way up. Woke up at 4am and on the trail by 4:45am. Up the steep, loose rock/scree of Columbia which took a few solid breaks to catch our breath. This is why it was good to go this way, going down would have been worse. Had the summit of Columbia to ourselves (just like the summits the past two days - only saw two other hikers all day yesterday).
Here, on the summit of Columbia, you can tell my buddy works out:
Off the summit, you can see where you need to go as everyone strongly advises not to do the ridge connecting the two summits. We could see where we should go up on the shoulder of Harvard so we started making our way down into the valley to avoid any risky situations. Although it's depressing dropping so much elevation when you know you're high already, it was a really nice hike through some grassy meadows. There really wasn't much of a path but it's pretty obvious where to go.
We made it over to Harvard and started heading up. This was fairly steep as well, but we hiked in mostly grass so it was a nice change. Kept heading for the ridge until we noticed the first person of the day coming down from Harvard. We made our way to the well defined ridgeline and found a path. Headed up the path to the summit where we ran in to about 6 people at the summit. No one else was doing both that day that we ran in to.
Beautiful weather again but clouds were starting to form so we decided to get rolling. After the first few miles, the trail is excellent and nice on the ankles and knees (especially compared to the hike out from yesterday).
Back to the car at 2:30pm with a faster than average crew.
There were only a few traces of snow but after the storm on Sunday, I'm guessing there is a bit more up there now.
I think the Harvard/Columbia summits were some of my favorites so far when it comes to views. Bear Lake below, beautiful basins and peaks 360 degrees.
Here are some links to pictures from each of the hikes:
I'd be happy to answer any questions.
Thanks again to all for your help!