| Shavano and Tabeguache
This was my 16th and 17th. I moved fairly quickly on the way up, having done 4 already this summer.
Left Denver: 2pm
Arrive TH: 5pm
Leave Car: 5:15pm
Stop to put on hiking shoes instead of chacos: 5:30p -5:40p (sandals do not cut it)
Arrive Camp: 6:15pm (2nd site we saw on left side of creek-GREAT spot)
Left Camp: 6:15am
Arrive Shavano Summit: 8:25am
Left Shavano Summit: 8:30am
Arrive Tabeguache Summit: 9:20am
Left Tabeguache Summit: 9:45am
Arrive Shavano Summit: 10:45am
Left Shavano Summit: 10:50am
Arrive at Camp: 12:40pm
Left Camp: 1:00pm
Arrive Car: 2:00pm
The hike to camp was very steep, rocky and tiring. As I said, we had to change out of Chacos soon after we had started. Of course we had our packs and had packed in all our water, but I still cannot imagine hiking that section the same day as summiting even without a pack. I would highly recommend hiking in, as it cuts out a tough start to a long day the next day. There are a lot of very secluded, scenic and flat (flattest place I have set up my tent including campgrounds) spots along a creek. We took the second campsite we saw on the left side of the creek, as there were people at the first. We were able to build a fire, even though it had recently rained, enjoyed some grub and hit the hay around 9.
Hiking in also enabled us to start the hike off in a pretty forest, with a more gradual incline to get the legs moving. About two groups of hikers had passed us while we were getting ready, so props to them, as they must have started around 5! It took about an hour to reach treeline, which was suprising since we had hiked in so far the night before, but I had read that on previous reports. There were about 2 or 3 more campsites a tad further up the trail (5-15 minutes), but really, I think ours was the best! The hike up to treeline is steady and gradual, with a few steep sections, all of which offer beautiful views of the morning sun rising over Salida. Once reaching treeline, it became much colder and very windy. It is extremely windy along the ridge and up to the saddle. I would bring more layers than you think you should.
We had passed one group on our way up to the saddle and then saw the other a bit ahead of us. There was also a pair of older ladies who passed us before treeline. They were literally running up the mountain- no joke, like two feet off the ground at a time! But, they turned around at the saddle due to the weather and not bringing enough layers. They were Salida locals I think, so they said they could go back anytime.
When we reached the saddle, it became extremely cloudy and windy and was quickly getting worse with clouds rolling in from the west. Soon, we could barely hold ourselves up from the wind and could barely see in front of us. We discussed turning around, but the sky above the clouds was blue and we were very close at this point.
The trail is well-marked all the way up with cairns, although with the weather, we got off course a few times. From the saddle to the summit, it took us about 30 minutes. When we got to the summit, we sort of came through the clouds and were above them. It was still VERY windy, probably 40 -50 mph winds, but now we had a clearer view of the weather. The sky was blue far to the west, so we took a few pics and trudged on, leaving the only 3 guys that had beat us to the top on the summit still debating whether to push on to Tabegauche. Within 20 minutes of starting the descent of Shavano, the wind died down and the cloud cover disappeared. It was now beautiful and sunny for the remainder of the day.
The trail down Shavano over to Tabeguache is pretty fun. You can follow the trail or just sort of decide where to go, but all-in all, I would stay high up on the east side of the ridge. The trail up Tabeguache is basically a scree field. We followed a good path, which curved to the left and then straight up that side, but others went to the right and up the ridge it seemed. Ours was good, and was appropriate for our dog's feet.
We were the first to summit Tabegauche, which although I had private hikes/summits during the entire time on the way up and at the top of Sneffels and El Diente, this was my first "crowded" 14er that I had ascended first, and I must say, it felt pretty cool. We had about 20 minutes up there before the guys who were debating on Shavano arrived, followed by a few others.
We descended the way we came up, and that is when we noticed people going up a different way. The hike back up to Shavano was somewhat hard to recognize where we had just come down, but again, just stay close to the top of the ridge, and any path will get you there. All three of us (husband, me and dog) went different ways without any trouble. You can add some fun scrambling to this section, which I did, and was great. The summit was crowded upon return with dogs and people, and there really is not a lot of space up there, so after a few cloud-less shots, headed on our way.
The hike down Shavano was new to us, as we hadn't seen anything before due to clouds. The trail is well-marked, and it was now that we noticed that we had gone an alternative way a few times. The hike approaching the saddle and then below it headed towards treeline saddle is a lot harder than I was hoping/anticipating, simply because of the dirt being loose. It had rained recently and was still loose, so I imagine after a dry-spell, it would be VERY loose. It was hot by now too, I was down to a tank top and wishing I had shorts under my pants, and I had run out of water for the first time ever on a 14er, having given so much to my pup. Luckily we had more at the camp so could replenish before carrying our packs out, which required close attention going downhill on that last steep section with packs after a hike like that!
All in all, this was a great hike. I really liked this pair, and would definitely rank them in my top half of the 17 I've done. I drove to Telluride from there to rest up for the Phish shows the next day, sleeping over 12 hours that night. It is definitely strenous and a leg burner for sure. My pup couldn't walk for about 24 hours, but has fully recovered. She is 8.5, and that was 12 and 13 for her!
Main recommendations: Drive and hike in the night before. Get an early start. Do not only summit Shavano. Although pretty and one of my favs, that is one you do not want to have to do again to summit Tabeguache! And do not overlook the elevation gain and mileage! This is not a walk through the woods.
(Sorry I could not get pics IN the report. Webpage is acting up...I had to type this all out separately and then copy/past over due to constant scrolling unprompted.)
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):