Mount Shavano (14,229′) – Tabeguache Peak (14,155′)
- Class 2
- Exposure 2
- 5,600 ft elevation gain
- 11.25 miles
- Sawatch Range
- Closest town: Poncha Springs
- Shavano/Tabeguache TH – Blank Gulch Route
- Shavano East Slope, saddle to Tabeguache, return via Shavano East Slope
I squeezed this hike in during a 24 hour free period from work. That required me to make the drive both to and from Salida all in one day. I left the trailhead at 7 AM, snaked through the forest, and reached the Mount Shavano summit around 9:45 AM. Despite wanting a quick rest there were far too many children around, a result of such a late start time, so I headed for Tabeguache Peak (pronounced tab-a-watch by locals and taybwatch in the Ute language) and reached that summit around 10:45 AM. The crowd was far smaller over there. I snapped the compulsory photos of the surrounding landscape and finally rested before heading back. I should mention that the return trip involves reascending Mount Shavano before an all downhill marathon back through the forest. Luckily there is only a mile or so between the peaks.
I had the perfect weather. With my start a full hour after sunrise, I hardly needed any warm layers. The sky was perfectly clear and the winds never made it up to the forecast of 25 mph. In fact, the light cloud cover never rolled in until I was practically back to my car this afternoon. Something about rain on the high plains really tugs at my heartstrings. Big, full raindrops plopping onto the desiccated earth; dark, ominous clouds looming above; and the sun still in full view, warming the day.
Anyways, I am delighted to say that my ability to spot the accurate trail among the various offshoots has become markedly better. I am picking up on the subtle differences of an actual path, a favored photo op and resting spot, and short cuts to no where that intrepid hikers love to leave in their wakes. I also wore running shoes instead of my hiking boots. What a complete difference that made. My knees and hips required almost no recovery time. Though my ankles definitely felt the increased use.
I met two CT thru hikers on my way out. It is hard not to get overexcited when I have no base experience to compare the upcoming adventure to. I realize that the CT is a mere 500 miles compared to the more extensive thru hikes. Most section hikers take on distances greater than the CT, but my capriciousness makes it difficult to downplay these sudden spurts of enthusiasm. I also randomly ran into a college roommate while leaving the TH for my vehicle. She was on her way in for some exploring. Oh the coincidences of life 🙂