| Mt. Shavano and the Horrific Wind!
Decided a couple of months ago that I was going to give the Shavano/Tabeguache combo a shot while the wife and kids were up in Ohio at the in-laws. My usual hiking buddies all had other commitments or had to work so it was just going to be me. I really wouldn't classify this as a solo hike though, there were lots of folks on the trail that day. I headed out from Borger about 11:00 am CDT and got to Salida right at 5:00 pm MDT.
I stayed at the Woodland Motel on the NE side of Salida. It is a good price and very clean so I don't mind saying that if you are looking for a good value I would recommend them. (I am receiving no compensation for that shameless plug, BTW.)
The forecast for the whole state of Colorado was ideal, no chance of rain for the next couple of days and the temps were going to be pretty nice too. Despite the great forecast I decided that I wanted to still get an early start. I managed to get to the TH right at 5:00 am and hit the trail immediately. Here is a shot of the TH parking area that afternoon. (Wouldn't have been any help to anyone if I had posted the pic that morning, just pitch black except the reflection of license plates from the flash!)
The official TH sign as you enter the parking area.
Just a note....the instructions Bill has for getting to the TH are right on the money and while the road is a little washboarded in places and a few potholes and bumps exist, the road is no problem for any vehicle.
The trail begins with the awesome aspen/pine meadow. (Again, this shot was taken on my way down since the darkness at the start of the day made any pics I tried blurry and useless.)
The trail goes by this neat little stream for a while and there are several makeshift log bridges to cross over.
Something to note here....at the stream and a few spots shortly after the trail becomes a little undefined and is hard to follow. There was a couple of times that myself and another group of hikers just in front of me had to backtrack on the trail and find it again. All these occurences were while still below treeline. Just pay close attention, especially if it is still dark and you should be fine.
The trail then just winds through the forest steadily up, getting a little steeper as you go, but nothing too bad.
Once above treeline the view becomes amazing.
Here is the Angel of Shavano...looks more like the "Torso" of the Angel of Shavano.
Here is where things got ugly. There was a nice breeze that started right before I got to the treeline. It steadily got stronger and stronger until it was a steady 40-50 mile wind right in my face. Here is where I started feeling the strain of trying to fight this wind.
There was a group of five hikers that had passed me earlier just past the stream and I had watched ahead of me until they reached the summit ridge. Two turned back at the summit ridge and huddled down a couple hundred feet down below the ridge. When I got to them I asked them about the conditions and they informed me that they were not comfortable up on the steep ascent right at the final pitch with that much wind. (It was very hard to hear anything as the wind was a blasting noise and we ended up yelling everything at each other.) We visited for a minute as I rested my legs and chowed down on a Clif bar and then I proceeded. The wind was incredibly strong now and it was very difficult to walk into it. Twice it was strong enough to literally sweep my feet out from under me. After the second knock down I contemplated calling it off and just giving Shavano the TKO. But I did not want to have driven 400+ miles just to get within 500 ft. of the summit and quit, so onward I pressed. Surprisingly, once I got on the east face of the summit, the wind was pretty much blocked by the summit, so things got better. Finally, after 4 1/2 hrs. of hiking, I reached Shavano's awesome summit. Here is the proof: The obligatory summit shot.
The views from Shavano's summit are awesome. So many distant 14ers are visible as well as most of the Sawatch. Here are the fellow Sawatch 14ers: Antero, Princeton, Harvard, Yale and if I'm not mistaken, Elbert is peeking out on the far left.
The Crestone Group.
Here is the Mosquito and Tenmile ranges. Been there before.
I apologize for the quality of this picture but I was stunned that even the Blanca Massif was barely visible!!!!!
......as was Grays and Torreys! Been there done that too!
Note: Uncompaghre and Wetterhorn were also clearly visible but much to my dismay the picture I took of them was too blurry to comprehend. So I am sure that Sunshine, Redcloud and Handies were probably visible too but I couldn't discern them from the other hazy peaks around them.
After about a half hour of visiting other hikers, resting the legs and snacking on Gummi Worms, I looked over to the traverse to Tabeguache. The winds on the summit were surprisingly calm but I could hear the wind rushing across the rocks just down the ridge towards Tabeguache. I decided to go down the ridge for a bit and see what the winds felt like. The winds were very strong the further down the ridge I went so I made the dreaded decision that Tabeguache would have to wait. As much as I hated to concede it, I knew my limitations and I knew that I would be pushing myself to make both Tabeguache and re-summiting Shavano. Even though the forecast was good and there wasn't a cloud in the sky, I did not want to put myself in a position that could compromise my safety or anyone elses. "Tabeguache ain't going nowhere, she'll be there for another day," I told myself. But deep down I was disappointed. So it was now time to head back down.
It still felt great having summitted Shavano but I am still a little peeved that I could not bag Tabeguache so I could finish the trip having bagged my 10th 14er. That is OK though, I've already planned a trip to take my two older kids on a trip to bag Huron Peak this September and A couple of us are contemplating an August trip to get either Mt. Lindsey or Humboldt Peak, so #10 should happen this year! 8)
The trip home is usually fun (and a little depressing) but always gives some great views. Here are a couple of parting shots from my trip home today.
One final shot of a distant Shavano taken from Fremont County Road
1-A just south of Cotopaxi. I was there, dude!
And a great shot of Humboldt and the Crestones from highway 69 just south of Westcliffe.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):