Peak(s):  Mt. Shavano  -  14,229 feet
Tabeguache Peak  -  14,155 feet
Date Posted:  07/28/2014
Modified:  07/29/2014
Date Climbed:   07/04/2014
Author:  buckeyejes
Additional Members:   AdDoBe
 A Tale of two trips to Shavano on the holiday weekend   

Mt. Shavano and Tabaguache Peak
Hiked 7/4/14
Start - 6am
Time from trailhead to Mt. Shavano - 4 hr
Time from Shavano to Tabaguache - 1 hr 15 min
Time from Tabaguache to Shavano - 45 min
Time from Shavano to trailhead - 2 hr
Road to the trailhead: The road to the trailhead was not very complicated or difficult, but be sure to watch out for the cows!!

Adam and I planned to do both Shavano and Tabeguache on July 4th, 2014. This is the first time we have attempted these two again since July 4th weekend of 2011, during which we did summit Shavano, but never made it Tabeguache and had one of the longest hiking trips down any mountain. The entire story is so ridiculous, as we clearly had a guardian angel that day, but since I never posted the trip report, I thought it might be appropriate to tell the story on this trip report since this hike did bring back memories, good and bad from our last experience. You can skip down if you only want to read the trip report from this year.

July 3, 2011

In 2011, we decided to bring both of our dogs, Grady (our golden retriever) and Peyton (our german shepherd). They had both done 14ers before, so we had no doubts on their abilities to complete this hike. We had plenty of water, food, their boots, and the usual supplies for the hike. Each of them even had their own pack to carry their stuff. We were doing pretty well, stopping for some water and food breaks for the pups (and us too) as we went along.

Once we got to the ridge on Shavano, we noticed Grady was moving much slower than normal. Since it was unusually warm at that time for being above 13,000 ft, we took a longer break and had him drink water and checked paws (all good!). We thought maybe he was being a little dramatic, so we trudged on, while he seemed to get slower and slower. Eventually, Adam and I decided we would split up since it was getting closer to noon, and we still wanted to attempt Tabeguache. Our new plan was that I take Peyton and summit Shavano, and then Tabeguache, and I would meet him on the summit of Shavano, where he could go to Tabeguache and Grady would not have to go any farther than Shavano. It seemed like a brilliant plan at the time.

Peyton and I got to the summit rather quickly after that, but the clouds were starting to form, so I decided to wait on the summit for Adam and Grady and we would just head down.

Peyton and I at the top of Shavano...waiting for Grady and Adam

We waited....and waited...and I heard from several people summiting that the golden retriever was struggling. Eventually Adam and Grady made it to the top (thankfully!), and it was clear Grady was moving extremely slow. We did an assessment of him while he was up there, and his paws seemed to be cut up. After we kicked ourselves for not putting the boots on earlier, there was a guy at the top that had some first aid things that would allow me to wrap his paws (I only had band-aids), so I was able to wrap him up and get his boots on. After we wrapped him up and gave him some rest time, we decided to start down slowly.

It was slow going, and we basically picked Grady up and put him down from rock to rock to get down to the ridge. Once we were in the flatter section approaching where start heading down, he was taking frequent breaks. We kept offering water and food, but he didn't seem to want to drink or eat anything, so we assumed his paws were so sore that he wanted to stop. The clouds kept forming and it was clear we wanted to get below treeline as soon as possible. We kept moving down toward treeline, and Grady's breaks became more frequent. We were almost dragging him down toward treeline as the hail began.

When we were close to treeline, at one of his "breaks", he wouldn't go any farther. He just laid down on the trail and he wouldn't move. After Adam and I realized coxing wasn't going to get him any farther, even with some hail, we saw his eyes were glazed over and he just looked out of it. He wouldn't drink or eat....he was completely out of it. We sat there with him on the trail (i.e. in the way) not really knowing what to do next, especially with the weather. We were getting more anxious to get down the mountain, or at least below treeline. We were starting to discuss how we would even get him down the mountain since we were still just above treeline, and obviously far from the car.

After what seemed like a lifetime of worrying about Grady, a hiker was coming up on the trail and asked if we needed help. We were telling him about how we were okay, but our dog is not doing as well and he is on an extended break. After we told him that, he says "well, I am a vet, do you mind if I take a look at him?". Adam and I were dumbfounded, and obviously the answer was yes, so he proceeded to examine him. He then tells us, "I don't mean to worry you, but he is suffering from heat exhaustion, and it is possible for dogs to die from this. He is overheating right now, can you take his boots off? Dogs sweat through their feet and panting". After we explained that his paws were bandaged and cut up, he just told us "You need to cool his core temperature fast. Is there any way you can get him to the snow bank down there?"

We decided that Grady was not going to move and we didn't want to carry a 75 lb dog down one of the steeper sections, so I emptied out Grady's pack, ran down to the snow bank, filled it with snow, and ran back up. We packed Grady with snow and we asked the guy, "How long will it take to cool his temperature?" He says that it is unknown, and could be a few minutes, or could be a long time. He told us to check his tongue and his skin to see when it was safe to move him again, and after we thanked him profusely, he went on his way. After about 15 minutes, amazed at the luck of running into a vet, Grady popped up, and began to walk, so we immediately gathered everything and had him walk down a little ways to the snowbank so he could lay in it for awhile. He still seemed out of it, but certainly better than the completely glazed eyes and immobility we had experienced minutes before. Before heading down (knowing it was still a long way at this pace), we packed Grady's backpack full of snow to take with us, and carried it with us.

We moved very slowly, with Grady taking breaks often, and a little ways down (still where the trees were sparse), we found the vet that had helped us sitting on the side of the trail up against a rock. We asked him if he was okay or if he needed anything, and he told us that he was not feeling well, and he had a migraine which was now compounded with altitude sickness. He had already taken some migraine medication, but he wasn't feeling better yet. He told us that he was just going to stay there tonight and hike down in the morning when he was feeling better (clearly not thinking straight), so Adam and I reasoned with him that was not a good idea without shelter, and still exposed to the elements overnight on a 14er.

He eventually said his phone was dead, and he wanted to call his wife to have someone come get him. Luckily, we had a little battery left in one of our phones to allow him to call his wife, where he left a message (not picking up because of the strange number). After we talked to him for a bit after that asking if he wanted to walk with us, he kept telling us "Grady needs to get back down the mountain". A few minutes later, we received a call back on our cell phone and it was search and rescue calling to find out the situation. It turned out that his wife immediately called search and rescue and our cell was the only number they had since that is where he called her from. After talking to search and rescue for a while, they decided they were going to send a team up and asked someone to stay with him. Adam and I decided to split up, where he stayed back with the vet (Rob), and I started to head down (very very very slowly) with the dogs since we knew it was going to take Grady a long time.

Search and rescue asked Adam and Rob to make it down as far as possible so they could meet him faster, and eventually, they started moving down the trail too. It didn't take long for the two of them (moving slow) to catch up with me (moving even slower) since my routine was: step, step, Grady lays down, I put snow on Grady, wait a minute, beg him to walk a little further, repeat. Slow as can be, we all headed down and eventually got to the stream crossing. We allowed Grady to lay down in the stream for a long while, and tried to get him moving again. By this time, it was almost 5pm, and we had been on the trail for 11 hours.

Not long after, we had search and rescue catch up to our group, and they quickly assessed Rob and thanked us for bringing him closer to them. Now that we were at a lower altitude, he definitely felt better, but search and rescue were still going to take him down the rest of the trail so that they could monitor them. After they asked him how he felt, he said, "well, I feel better, but their dog is really struggling". The S&R folks had a quick meeting and came up to us and said "Since you helped us with the human patient, we will help you get your dog down". At first, we politely refused, since we felt it was our fault and we didn't want to trouble S&R with our dog. They convinced us that they could help us with their new gurney, and they could use it as a training exercise. We waited for a few of the team members to come up with one of the members, while Rob and another few people headed down the trail.

After another 45 minutes or so, a group came up with the gurney and we loaded the immobile/passed out Grady on it. The gurney had a mountain bike wheel and a hand brake, and we surrounded the gurney, and 1 person held the hysterical Peyton (who was very vocal about how much she did not like this experience). Adam and I both took turns helping S&R with "the patient" (as they referred to Grady over their radio systems so others didn't know the patient was a dog...) and the gurney. The process of getting the gurney down was very tiring (wow S&R....I can't imagine doing that with a human double the weight of my dog!), but the lead guy was keeping everyone motivated and entertained the entire way down.

He even was asking Grady (i.e. "the patient") questions while Adam answered for Grady. We headed down for what was probably only a few miles, until we were able to get to where their ATV's and cart were parked and we could get a ride down the rest of the way. The ATV ride was interesting, while I was holding onto Peyton for dear life since she was so freaked out and wanted to jump out of the cart, while Grady was still passed out. When we were finally (FINALLY) back to the trailhead, we met the search and rescue incident commander. They were all so wonderful and thankful that we were able to help Rob, but they may not have understood how thankful we were for them and for Rob for saving Grady's life. Grady took a few days to come back to normal (which was what the vet had told us would happen), and about a week for the paws to heal, but he made a full recovery and has since been retired from 14ers (obviously).

July 4, 2014

We were able to get a fairly early start even though we drove that morning from Colorado Springs. We set off on the trail around 6am, and it was actually a comfortable 45 degrees, even that early in the morning. It had just rained the night before, so there was a little mud, but was not an issue for the hike. The trail begins pretty mellow.

A nice hike through the trees


After a little hiking, you reach a point where you will need to follow the arrow pointing to Shavano.

can't miss it!

At around 10,800 ft, we finally saw the stream that we had been listening to as we were hiking up the trail. There were several wildflowers along the trail to keep us occupied and entertained.

the stream

trail along the stream

You follow the trail along the stream for awhile. There were several downed trees that had already been cut and moved out of the way, so it appeared that workers were there recently.

thank you!

The trail began to turn a little steeper, but we were starting to see some awesome views just above treeline.

the trail

we're almost above treeline!

above the trees on a beautiful day!

We hiked along toward the ridge. The trail leveled out again for a short time, until just below the ridge where it was very steep and a little bit looser. As we were hiking this direction, we noticed a couple of people coming up the Angel.

the trail leveling out and allowing us to enjoy the wildflowers!

Once we were on the ridge, there is a flat section before the pitch to the summit, so another picturesque opportunity was had during this time.

from the ridge

pretty wildflowers!

oooh, the colors!

There seemed to be multiple trails to the top, but we just went the direction of the summit and made it up there without much trouble. We even had a cheerleader as we made our way to the top.

chirp, chirp! Go adam and jes!

We spent only enough time on the Shavano summit to grab a snack to make sure we made it to Tabeguache well before noon. Even though the weather was perfect, we didn't want to push our luck and decided we would take pictures on Shavano once we came back from Tabeguache.

Coming down Shavano, most of the rocks were surprisingly sturdy, but it seemed to take a long time to navigate down. Once we were at the lowest part of the saddle, we realized that Tabeguache wasn't going to be an easy #21. The trip up Tabeguache was very steep and we didn't have much of trail. We avoided the snow patches by staying to the left and just went up when we lost the trail under the snow again. After what seemed like a lifetime (but in reality only 45 minutes from the bottom of the saddle), we were excited to make it to the top of Tabeguache. The weather was still amazing, so we enjoyed some time up on the summit with snacks and did plenty of picture taking. I also enjoyed the rock that someone decorated, even though the e fell off, at least I know which peak I am on!

from the summit of Tabeguache

a rewarding peak!

It's like a game of where's waldo...where's the pica?

from the top

After chatting with the guys that were up there for awhile, they headed down and Adam and I realized we actually had the summit to ourselves (a first for us!) for a wonderful 10 minutes. It was so peaceful, and a wonderful surprise, especially on a holiday weekend.

looking back at shavano

From the top, with great visibility!

After spending some time on the summit, and some other people came up, we decided to head back over to Shavano. The traverse from Tabeguache to Shavano took us significantly less time than going from Shavano to Tabeguache. I think this is because we could more easily identify a better route down Tabeguache, but we are not entirely sure. Once we got back to Shavano, there were a few guys on the summit, but they began headed down, so we once again had a summit to ourselves. The clouds were definitely starting to roll in from the north, but we still had a chance to take our pictures from the summit and enjoy having the summit to ourselves for a little bit before descending.

from shavano

the visibility starting to get a little worse...

....but still enjoying the views....

....and the time spent on the summit

so fitting on July 4th!

The trip down Shavano to the ridge went quickly and our main goal was to beat the pending rain or hail.

headed back

from the ridge

The first part of the descent down the ridge was very steep, but it did get a little better once we were close to treeline. On the way down, we concluded there wasn't many "gradual" sections - it was either very steep or seemingly flat. It did eventually start raining (i.e. "drizzling"), but luckily we made it below treeline. The rain didn't slow us down significantly or make the descent too awful except for maybe making the rocks a little slicker. We finally made it back to the trailhead around 3pm, which made it a long day. Although we were tired, it was well worth the effort to conquer Shavano again and get our 21st peak, Tabeguache.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
D Potter
07/29/2014 03:53
Thanks so much for your story. A lesson for man and animal. I wish you would post some photos of the rescue operations. Thanks..


I wish I had more photos from that day....
07/29/2014 13:03
Looking back, I couldn't even find the photo from the 4 of us at the top. I only found 1 photo of me and Peyton. It was so crazy and exhausting, I didn't even think to take any pictures on the way down with S&R. I wish I would have!

Incredible story!
08/11/2014 17:01
What an amazing tale! Very well told. Sounds like you guys had a pretty harrowing day up there a couple years ago. You guys ended up in one of the worst-case scenarios for dogs on 14ers! Kudos for keeping calm and handling the situation.

Also - what amazing luck running into a vet and the nicest S&R crew in the world! That was very cool of them to do that for you. Sounds like they knew they didn't have to and weren't expected to, they just stepped up and helped out because they could. How great to run into such thoughtful people.

Glad your most recent ascent was much less eventful! :-)


crazy story
08/16/2014 19:45
glad it turned out alright

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