Peak(s):  Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Tabeguache Peak  -  14,155 feet
"Esprit Point"  -  13,630 feet
PT 13,712  -  13,712 feet
Jones Pk  -  13,604 feet
Aetna, Mt  -  13,745 feet
Taylor Mtn A  -  13,651 feet
Date Posted:  07/17/2014
Date Climbed:   07/14/2014
Author:  goingup
 That's a whole lotta alone time....   

48 hours of solitude....I learned a few things about myself; I love doing difficult things and I absolutely hate RV's (bonus hate for towing a boat or car, dirt bikes or atv's). Motorized vehicles towing other motorized vehicles, slow, gas guzzling, fossil fuel wasting, noisy, noxious gas emanating stupidity. Americans and their damn excess. Learn to live simple and stop destroying the planet.

Total Stats:
22.5 miles
11,500 feet of gain
7 mountains
2 lakes
13 hours

How did this trip come to be? Only one thing I look for ... big vertical gain, nom, nom, nom, the vert monster strikes again!

Day One: Monday 7/14
12 miles
6,000 feet of gain
7 hours

Esprit Point
Mount Shavano
Tabeguache Peak
PT 13,712
Jones Peak
Shavano Lake

I keep getting fancier.

I left Sunday afternoon and RV hated my way down 285 to the Shav/Tab TH. My low rider made it just fine, ruff 2WD is accurate, I was forced to pay attention, go figure. At the trail head I prepared for the next day, finished reading my environmental ethics book, ate some dinner, watched some dudes prepare to back pack in, and finally made my pre-bed cup of tea which goes quite nicely with a pre-bed walk. About a half mile in to my pre-bed walk I mistaken wind for a torrential down pour and ended up getting very very wet. Contrary to popular belief rain does penetrate dense forest. I couldn't run with a scalding cup of tea in hand so I ended up sleeping in my trunk wet.

Driving down a lonely dirty road...

4 a.m. alarms a buzzin', some head lamp drama pushed my start time to 5 a.m. Here we have the classic case of girl who can handle herself in the mountains but cannot change the batteries in her head lamp, (hangs head in shame ). I started off the morning jogging up the Colorado Trail. Almost immediately I ran through thick mud and flooded trail, eh didn't phase me much. Everything was really wet and it was humid, junglesque. The trail for Shav/Tab turns off to the left and is incredibly easy to follow albeit super rocky and steep. After tripping a dozen times I decide to power hike until it grew lighter. The more I wandered in to the forest the more I wondered what was watching me. I am really good at freaking myself out in the dark.

So, I was not feeling great. And by not feeling great I mean I was moving at a pace of 35 minute miles (on trail), my nose was bleeding, and I felt like barfing everywhere. Nearing tree line the sun came up and it was beautiful so that gave me some motivation but I still felt like keeling over. I paid close attention to one particular bend in the trail as I knew if I completed my lofty five mountain goal I would rejoin here.

Suffering with a view!

Tree line to the saddle between Esprit Point and Mount Shavano was horrifying. I felt like I had the flu and my feet were fifty pound bricks. I wanted to turn around so badly but somehow I made it to the saddle and said, "may as well get one peak." I slogged up to Esprit Point and tossed cookies, well more like vega gels and Justin's peanut butter cups all over some poor pica's home. It was miserably cold, windy, and the sun was stuck in a mess of clouds.

Pictures of pain.

Tab and Shav from the summit of Esprit Point.

I realized Shav was right in front of my face but could not register the fact. In a robot trance I followed a trail toward a pile of rocks but there was a labyrinth of confusing social trails so I opted to hop on some blocky talus and scramble my way to the top. The whole time I kept telling myself, this is not Shav, it is just a false summit. My deteriorating health and negative mind talk carried me all the way to the summit of my 29th 14er. I toppled over, alone, defeated, and called it a day...UNTIL....I sucked down a Peter Rabbit Organics (carrot, squash and apple) baby food meal. This should seriously be a commercial. So you just puked all over an unranked but named 13er? Nose bleeding all over your white northface jacket? Moving at a now 46 minute mile pace? Collapsed on top of Shav? Feeling hopeless and sorry for yourself?.....have a Peter Organics and BOOM POW BAM, you my friend will go on to be an epic mountain summiter.

The 14ers illusion.

The only picture I took from the summit of Shavano. Here's to looking at ya Tab.

Well it did not quite go like that but I did get up and I did look over at Tab and I did determine it was far but I like doing difficult things, so. I was also at a perfect vantage to see Tab to PT 13,712 to Jones Peak and the descent line I would take off of Jones down to Shavano Lake. Shav to Tab is no walk in the park. At the base of Tab I met a man named Dave, he was the only person I would see until I hit the main trail in the trees later. The weather was okay but questionable and I had a little chat with myself, either I start moving or my fancy day is over. I hauled ass up Tab, I think from the Shav/Tab saddle I made the summit of Tab in 10 minutes. I wanted to be at the top of Tab by 10 a.m. and when I checked my phone it was 9:05!

The Sawatch.

Pano from Tab summit.

Putting the horror of the morning behind me the beast had awoken and it was time to move. I bombed down Tab and up PT 13,712. One word, talus. I'm good on this stuff. I was on top of PT 13,712 by 9:35 a.m. looking at the class 3 ridge that lay between me and my last mountain of the day. The gnarly and tangled ridge to Jones seemed some what out of place in the otherwise gentler sawatch range. There was no time to contemplate or be nervous, clouds were swirling, the clock was ticking, it was go time.


Tabeguache Peak from PT 13,712


Pano from PT 13,712

I found very little information on this ridge. Gerry Roach says, "this difficult ridge requires some class 3 scrambling over and around several obnoxious rotten towers, you are committed now!" True dat Gerry! It was around a mile of ridge between PT 13,712 and Jones Peak and I did it in about 35 minutes.

Start of the ridge.

Immediately off of PT 13,712 I down climbed a steep gully and was faced with sever large towers which appeared to be separated by deep notches. With weather moving in I did not want to find out the hard way if these towers did or did not go so I skirted them on the left (north) side of the ridge. This was very unpleasant and pretty sketch. The first chance I got to regain ridge proper I took. After the initial difficulties the ridge relents for a moment and I traversed some grassy tundra rock just to the right (south) side of ridge proper. Here is where I first stumbled upon a herd of mountain goats (the white kind, not the rabid looking brown ones). These animals are so majestic and handle class 3/4 with ease. I was asked to be an honorary member of their pack as I pretty much kept up with them. There was so much negotiating and decision making but I felt good about my route. The crux for me was a highly exposed 20 foot slab. I recall it being wet and I kicked off a loose rock which served to remind me how far I would fall. This ridge is not a given and I was relieved to reach the summit of Jones Peak.

A little difficult to see what is happening here but I bypassed the initial towers. Steep, loose, and sketchy.

Moving along staying proper. Tab can be seen left of center.

Easing up a bit.

I bid a farewell to my mountain goat friends and started the hellacious descent off the southern shoulder of Jones Peak (so steep). I aimed for the seldom visited Shavano Lake and followed the natural curve of the shoulder. Going too far to my right would have landed me in some obvious class 10 terrain. Besides getting a little gnarled up in some slabby cliffs towards the bottom it was a long "don't trip or you'll regret it" game to Shavano Lake.

How many peaks you bag today brah?

From the summit of Jones I believe this is Antero.

Descent off of Jones.

More from the toe jamming descent.

Shavano Lake is stunning. I can really tell the difference between places that are frequented and places that are not and this amphitheater was pristine. I sat down on a small beach and ate an orange and a pro-bar while flies swarmed my body. Apparently they love the smell of hard work. I did not want to leave this beautiful place but I still had to do an ascending traverse around Shavs east ridge and find the standard trail. Gerry says, "Finding the Mount Shavano Trail near Shavano's east ridge is not a fail-safe operation and your route finding skills may be tested." True dat Gerry!

The elusive and rarely photographed Shavano Lake.

My plan was a simple one. Contour around the mountain in between 12,000 and 12,100 feet and then drop south to meet up with the trail. Gerry had warned me about some dense thickets I would encounter. This was accurate, also F dense thickets. This terrain is relentlessly steep and then having to bushwhack sideways at the end of a long day....yup. Turns out I am the master and commander of the ascending traverse, I executed perfectly and ended up at the exact place I had eyed up in my early morning pukey haze. A brief stint down (south) and there was the trail!!! This was the first time I stopped and said, "Wahoooo!!" A group of dudes rolled up on me and were super confused where I came from. I ran away and was back at my car by noon.

A dense thicket.

Approximate descent route.


At my car I shoveled food in to my face and picked up other peoples trash (the norm). People came and went until finally I decided it was time to find an alpine creek to splash in. On the way out I stopped and helped two guys with a flat tire and then headed towards the happening town of Poncha Springs. I was hoping to find a nice creek spot but instead found construction and questionable food choices. I don't think the best Thai food in all the lands is found in Poncha Springs Colorado, although this was their claim. After getting gas and being eyed up by some bikers I headed down 50 toward the thriving metropolis of Garfield Colorado and by thriving metropolis I mean two abandon buildings and a closed for the season snowmobile touring company. This would be my home for the night.


I pulled into the snowmobile touring company and saw a sign for Boss Lake Trailhead parking. As well, I located CR 230 and it took me all of three seconds to realize low riding Lola would not make it five feet up that road. Having located my objective start for day two I decided to investigate the Garfield campground about a mile up the road. There was nothing to investigate The bridge into the campground had been blown up and I could see lovely spots near the creek across the way but no way to get to them. However, I was in my bathing suit and next to a creek so in I went. Mind numbing cold. After I mediated the inflammation situation I went back to the base of CR 230 and pulled down a short road set away from 50 and settled in. Here the Arkansas River was raging and it drowned out the brapping noise of trucks ascending and descending Monarch Pass.

I rolled out my feet and my legs and did thirty minutes of yoga until lightning moved frighteningly close. I finished reading Cradle to Cradle, a book I would highly recommend the entire world reads or at least my trip report viewers. After the storm passed I made some dinner and my evening cup of tea. I walked across 50 and investigated the abandon lodge. Maybe I'll buy it and move in. Climbed in to the trunk, bed time (9:00 pm).

Creep Town.

Day Two: Tuesday 7/15

10.5 miles
5,400 feet of gain
6 hours

Mount Aetna
Taylor Mountain A
Boss Lake


This was supposed to be my "easy" day, two nice mellow walk up and downers... LOL LOL LOL WTF WTF WTF !!!!! These two mountains are unfriendly and inhospitable. Let me just tell the tale....

Because I thought this would be a fairy tale dream of a day I set my alarm to 5:30 a.m. and was on CR 230 making my way to the Boss Lake TH by 6 a.m. I jogged the 1.4 miles to the trailhead on a VERY rough road (high clearance 4WD ONLY). The trailhead veers left I stayed on CR 230. Other roads and trails come and go but if you want these two stay on 230. Shortly after the Boss Lake TH another old mining road comes in from the north (right side). I marked this on my topo ap as I assumed this would be the road I would take out of Hoffman Park (it was). Another mile (maybe a little less) is where I turned north (or right) in to what is obviously Grand Couloir and started up the heaping pile of crud that is Mount Aetna. It's not her fault she was mined to death. I hate mining. Leave the mountains alone. Period.

Turn right (north) off of CR 230 when you see this obviousness...

The first bit was talus hopping up a mild slope, this I enjoyed, I was moving fast, I was not throwing up, my nose was not bleeding, things were generally looking good. The next bit was slogging up steep rock and tundra. This area was loose and fragile so I paid special care to tread lightly. Now I had options. There are two south ridges that make up the Grand Couloir which can be seen from 50 as a big gash down the center of Aetna. Either would go to the summit but I chose the south eastern ridge (or the one to my right). Gaining that ridge was literally my worst nightmare, my own personal hell, the bane of my existence.......steep loose dirt rock. It was completely comprised of quarter to baseball size palm cutting shrabble and went up for an eternity. One step up, slide five down. It was demoralizing, I wanted to sit down and ass scrape my way back to the bottom. The worst part was had I stayed closer to tree line there would have been more tundra but I was so deep in the sea of scree that any unnecessary movement would have sent me to the darkest places within my soul.

Approximate route, summit is not seen but buried in clouds.

This is what a nightmare looks like. The only thing missing is peas.

Okay so that was dramatic but if you decide to follow in my footsteps gain the ridge near tree line and save yourself the trauma. Here is where I employed a time passing game I often utilize in times of desperate need. I started singing songs. The goal of the game, in order to get the win, I must sing every word from beginning to end. Songs that made it to ridge proper with me were; Lisa Loeb: Stay, Harvey Danger: Flagpole Sitta, Juvenile: Back that Azz up, The Pixies: Where is my mind?, and The Aquabats: Shark Fighter. It worked and the pica, marmots, and birds squawked along.

Beauty can grow out of horror.... a metaphor for life.

All morning Mount Aetna had been ebbing in and out of clouds. The wind was fierce up high and I never saw Clover Mountain, Bald Mountain or Vulcan Mountain as they were deeply buried in black clouds. I was so happy to get to ridge proper because things always seem to be more solid there right? WRONG. Now I was dealing with much larger but equally as loose rock and it was down right terrifying. Big rocks shifted, growled, and several times I pulled my foot out of what would have been an ankle breaking situation. I started singing again; Group Love: What I know, Jay Z: Hard Knock Life, David Bowie: Magic Dance. It was all I could do to mask my discomfort. With about 500 feet left to climb, ridge proper offered some easy class 3. I took this opportunity as bypassing it on the right side was, you guessed it, a loose nightmare. This was the most solid rock I found on Mount Aetna.

Slightly concerned for the well being of my ankles and feet.

Still loose.

A little more solid (looking down)

Once on the summit of Aetna I had some decisions to make. The clouds looked much worse than the previous days and it was early, only 8 a.m. There was no way I was going back the way I came so I began descending Aetna's east ridge towards the Aetna/Taylor saddle. I had zero intention of going for Taylor as I had had enough. The views to the left (north) into Hunkydory Gulch were breathtaking, Hunkydory Lake is beautiful. I was prepared for the worst but Aetna's east ridge while not great was certainly more pleasant. There was one short loose cliff band to negotiate. I did not see a way around it until I was looking back up.

So much to see!

Boss Lake wayyyy down there.

Proof I exist.

Taylor Mountain A

Descending east ridge of Aetna...Hunkydory Lake with Calico Mountain, Cyclone Mountain, and Carbonate Mountain in the back gr

In the saddle I had more decisions to make. My original plan was to run, grab Taylor, return to the saddle, drop down in to Hoffman Park, and find the old mining road back to 230. Now I was looking at Taylor and thought if I grab her I could descend her southwest slopes in to the basin and still connect with the mining road. A large snowfield sat in the saddle blocking easy passage to Hoffman Park and this area was much steeper than I had expected. If I had an ice axe a nice glissade could have taken place but otherwise I was looking at a sketchy snow traverse over to an extremely steep run out of loose blocky rocks. No thanks! Taylor Mountain here I come.

I circled the questionable snow and looking at this picture I am really happy I chose to go for Taylor!

I frolicked over to a the false summit of Taylor Mountain having to gain about 500 feet in a fairly short stint. From the false summit it was a small descent and then a lengthy traverse across mostly solid talus and tundra. This terrain I can really move on. Another 200 ish feet of gain and I was standing on the out of place summit of Mount Taylor A. From summit to summit it took me a little under an hour. It was around 9 a.m. I signed the summit register and wanted to hang for a minute but the wind and clouds snarled me off.

Traversing to Taylor

Mountains from the summit of Taylor

Mount Aetna from Taylor Mountain summit

I had been eyeing possible routes off of Taylor all day. I needed to do a south west descending traverse down in to the Hoffman Park basin area and avoid cliff bands I had taken note of. Easy enough. It was so steep, perhaps even steeper than the Jones Peak descent but the tundra was negotiable until it wasn't. I found myself once again cursing the ground below me as I entered the land of mining remains and to add insult to injury I ended up in the middle of the cliffs I had wanted to avoid. Negotiation was incredibly tedious as they were loose. Finally I found myself in the last 200 feet of shrabble, then it was over, and I was standing in the basin timidly looking up at the two mountains I had stood atop.

Initial descent off of Taylor.

Then some of this...

And then this came out of no where.

The end of the terror.

Farewell you hellacious demons (Pano from the bowels of Hoffman Park)

A short bushwhack and I connected with the mining road, running it back out to 230. I made a left on 230 and decided to run to Boss Lake. I mean why not, it was right there. It was a beautiful trail, so lush and green but it went UP and at this point the vert monster was in desperate need of real food not elevation gain. I dug deep and topped out at a beautiful mountain lake with 10 Buena Vista inmates building a bridge. I found a little spot and laid down for the first time, inhaling another Peter Rabbit Organics (kale, broccoli, and mango) whilst listening to the sweet naturalistic sounds of inmates cursing. I inhaled the winds of success and accomplishment and I think I had a smile on my face.

Back in the forest.

Bridge to Boss Lake.

Boss Lake

Peter Rabbit gave me that Boom Bam Pow again and I ran, not trotted, ran out of there. I felt fantastic and believe me at this point, I should not have. About 1.75 miles closer to my car I stumbled upon a cute little old man hiking along with his dog. I stopped running and began hiking with him. I just knew I would have a neat conversation with him. I love the wisdom that old mountain men embody and even though I wanted to make it to my car by 11:30 a.m. I also wanted to hear this mans story. And hear his story I did, Lee you rock! It was worth the extra half an hour.

I was rolling out at 12 p.m., back to my creek spot where I took an extra long dip. I traveled to a dirt parking lot behind a restaurant and gas station in Poncha Springs where I bought nothing but instead took dirt-bagging to the highest possible level as I prepared myself a three course meal while sitting in my camping chair under a tree. I did some yoga, ate some watermelon, drank some tea, and really took everything in. A fierce storm moved in and when lightning crashed in to the field across the street I packed up the parking lot party. Honestly, I was really sad my 48 hours was up but grateful for the experience and my safety.

Keepin' it classy.

There is simply no substitution for pure unadulterated adventure...until next time, thanks for reading

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

Comments or Questions
I saw on maps a road that appeared
07/17/2014 23:19
to go up Taylor but I never saw it in person. My conclusion at the end of the day was these mountains are best done in winter. Either way it ended up being quite the adventure!

Ridge runner
Careful there...
07/17/2014 23:22
Please don't hate my 80+ mpg dirt bike and it's ability to get me to some gnarly trailheads. Also, please keep in mind that some people physically can't hike to these places and their only chance to see nature is to use ATVs, etc. Differences in hobbies don't make one person better than another.

But let's not get hung on up that. Nice job on two solid days. I too threw up (many times) on my first attempt up Esprit Point, though mine might have been from food poisoning.

Very impressive...
07/17/2014 23:48
being able to sing songs from start to finish. I usually get stuck repeating the chorus over and over for hours straight.

07/18/2014 00:16
I am still learning. @nkan02

@ridgerunner I do not think I am better than anyone because I can run to these places. Not sure how you extracted that from I hate RV's. It has nothing to do with my vs. their ability to climb mtns. It has everything to do with inefficiency and the crisis our planet is in.

Nice job!
07/18/2014 01:37
Glad you got 13,712 and Jones!

07/18/2014 02:01
@moneymike That's the game...if I get stuck on a chorus I lose a point.

@CODave ... It was not too bad but def. kept me on my toes.

Another camera/photography question...
07/18/2014 13:29
So I know you said you use your phone and a point and shoot for your photos, but what do you use for editing the pics?

Great report. Shavano Lake looks like a spot I need to check out. That whole route looks like a blast, albeit a bear of a day.

Keep on keeping on

07/18/2014 13:35
I use the feature that came with my photo ap on my macbook. Nothing fancy. That gives me the black and white and sepia stuff.

To draw on the pics I use a website called

07/18/2014 14:01
I'm a bit of a photo geek so always curious what people are using. Great pics, keep it up!

Monarch Lodge
07/18/2014 14:26
It was unfortunate that place couldn't stay open, especially now that more Front Rangers are skiing down there. Seems like a really cool idea and if someone could buy that place and revive it (always reminded me of a mountainous Bates Motel).

Nice couple a days in the Sawatch you had. Don't hold your breathe re: RV's. Some statistics project 7.7 mil people will live in CO by 2035, and since 2010, an average of 90,000 people have moved here a year. Eventually this place will probably run out of room, which is a shame, but it is what it is, and you have to find solace in unique trips like this to remind you how it once was (then find some other area that is a couple years behind the migrations).

07/18/2014 15:37
It would be really cool to buy that place. I bet it could be a very successful winter business.

I have to believe there are ways to protect the environment and still live our lives as humans. I cannot just accept the way things are and be complacent. I am going to school for bio-chemical engineering and my end hope is that I work with people who design products of the future. Products that are not so destructive (like hopefully I can find an alternative to RV's).

Super Girl!
07/18/2014 17:55
Wow, what a feat! Maybe they could fly you over to the Middle East so you could restore peace! Just give 'er some Peter Organics!

Seriously though, great job and a great read as usual. Also LOVED your photo #18, 'easing up a bit'!

Thanks for sharing your trip!

Fine Dinning...
07/18/2014 22:07
Spent 2 summers in Poncha Springs but never had the pleasure at dinning at the best Thai restaurant in all the land, although, I had heard good things about the place..

Sweet trip report, sounds like you had a fun filled couple o' days!

Cylinders for Brains
07/20/2014 01:34
I absolutely agree with your distaste for ATV's, ORV's and the like -- particularly when abused, which is almost always. In that regard, most of the people I've seen riding these machines are mostly young-to-middle-aged -- and mostly fat. And, fat is hardly a ”handicap” excuse for terrorizing the flora and fauna!

In that regard, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate some comments that I shared with ”Blazintoes” last year regarding ORV/ATV traffic at beautiful little Lake Como -- located at the base of Little Bear and Blanca. Alas, what should be a pristine alpine lake has all but been destroyed by the damned ATV/ORV traffic up and down what has been called Blanca Road. Hiking up that road, I noted numerous signs immediately to either side of the road indicating that beyond the road‘s edge was ”wilderness”. It is absolute folly to designate the perimeter of that road as the boundary to anything -- as the dust, noise, and exhaust of the traffic dominates the entire canyon.

In any event, I had hardly finished setting up camp near the old cabin set back from the lake, when I heard the drone of engines coming up the canyon - frankly, it sounded like an entire Panzer division. Eventually, three ATV‘s drove right by the cabin and parked on the low plain right at the water‘s edge. Loudly, as though still shouting over the din of their friggin engines, out came the rednecks, then their coolers, and then the beers - while the apparent leader, Bubba Rommel, peed on his rear tire and his kid hopped out with a pellet gun in hand said that he was ready and eager to start shooting.

At that point, my climbing partner and I grabbed our tent and (still full of gear) transported the whole kit a 100 yards up the trail. Of course, the Bozos were only out of sight - the damned party went on for hours.

Some wilderness experience we all shared that night!

07/20/2014 01:53
It is terrible and it absolutely breaks my heart.

I love the wilderness/this planet so much. I cannot understand why people use and abuse it. It is something I do not comprehend. Everywhere I go I spend 30 minutes picking up trash. Atrocious. You really cannot clean up after yourself? Totally inconsiderate. I always say, a good judge of character is how a person treats other living matter.

oh boy
04/02/2015 19:45
First of all, nice job on Pt 13,712- Jones linkup.

Secondly your routes up Aetna and down Taylor are quite a bit off. Sounds really, really painful. Far better option is to go up the looker's left flank of Aetna (aside from climbing the couloir which is far far better option) and for the descent/ascent of Taylor it is better to use FR 228 which goes almost all the way to the summit - piece of cake and actually pretty scenic. Maybe I should post my GPS track somehow as people seem to struggle finding a good ascent/descent route on Taylor.

04/02/2015 19:45
quite possibly could be a peak best done in snow, but I believe the left flank is still a much better option than the right one even when dry. As for Taylor, it is year-round peak. That forest road starts to the right of the parking lot and really easy to follow. Has some old mining ruins and a quarry. The hardest part for us (with skis) was a traverse between Taylor & Aetna.

Winter Trip Planned
11/27/2018 10:22
Thank you for the trip report-even these several years old reports are helpful when there are descriptions of the route and photos with the route red-lined. Agree with your environmentalism and hope to support and protect our wild places. There are not many left.

01/17/2019 22:17
"I hate mining." Well, you clearly enjoy the products derived from it. Lots of mining and other forms of extraction are required to create cars, gasoline, smart phones, cameras, batteries, and little tanks of camping stove fuel.

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