On Friday afternoon Chris suggested hiking a fourteener on Sunday morning. I had the GTIS Half on Saturday morning but really wanted to see what my tired legs could do so I started researching. I couldn’t talk anyone else into a Sunday morning hike but that didn’t stop us. Somehow we decided on another two-fer hike – Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak.
You feel incredibly accomplished when you get to check off two mountains in one hike but there is a certain level of stress that comes with the hike. If you start late, if weather moves in early or if anything else goes awry you may have to abandon the second summit. This usually means you will have to re-summit the first mountain just to get the second. While the hiking is fun we are both happy to get the summit and move on to a new mountain.
We really liked our super early start with the Mt Belford and Mt Oxford hike we did a few weeks ago so we decided to drive up to the trailhead on Saturday night, car camp and start out before dawn. I’m not quite smart enough to figure out my sports watch alarm so rather than waking up at 3:44am to an annoying beep we woke to the sound of a car parking at 5:20am. Oops.
There was some discussion about bailing out on the hike but we had already driving the 3 hours, slept uncomfortably and packed food. A hiking we would go!
For the first few miles we hiked for speed. Not exactly speedy speed, but it was not a leisurely wander up the mountain side. We usually average close to one mile per hour. We hit the steep summit climb with an 36 minute/mile average…all while gaining over 3,500 feet in about 3 miles. We weren’t breaking any world records but I’m fairly certain that is the fastest we have ever hiked up a mountain!
The final ascent of Mt Shavano was no joke. It went straight up and the trails were pretty hit and miss. Chris wound along a semi-trail while I played mountain goat and scrambled up the boulder field. Eventually we made it to the top and I devoured some food. Apparently being a mountain goat is a lot of work!
We never did find the summit marker so we picked a high rock, called it the summit and snapped a few photos before moving on to Tabeguache Peak.
The hike to Tabeguache Peak was only about a mile with 500 feet of gain. Sounds easy enough. What we didn’t factor in was the amount of scrambling we would have to do and how much time that would take! With the exception of a few hundred feet the entire hike from the saddle before the Mt Shavano summit to the Tabeguache Peak was through talus and boulder fields where trails were usually optional.
It took us a fair amount of time to get up to the Tabeguache summit, longer than I would have preferred with the clouds piling up. They weren’t scary yet but there is always the risk of crazy mood swings when it comes to mountain clouds! We climbed our way to the Tabeguache summit just after 10am, snapped a few quick photos and started to retrace our steps.‘
By this time low clouds were forming around the Mt Shavano summit so we decided to stay low scramble our way along the side of the mountain rather than the top. We’d be scrambling either way, might as well scramble further from the clouds, right? The hike back over/along Mt Shavano was daunting but not nearly as discouraging as hiking back up Mt Belford after the Mt Oxford summit! I think I had a little too much fun pretending to be a nimble mountain goat…until I almost high-fived a spider! *shudder*
On the way up I had stashed my pack along the saddle hike to Mt Shavano. With our decision to swoop along the mountain this required a bit of back tracking. It was worth it. Even with only about 6 miles with my pack my shoulders are dying today – definitely not hiking with this pack again! It was a last minute add and there is literally no shoulder padding! I’m pretty sure my clavicles are bruised!
At the end of the day we did almost 3 miles of strict scrambling over boulders. That is a lot of climbing, hopping and balancing! It felt good to get back on open trail where we could stretch out our legs a bit, even if it meant slipping and sliding on the loose gravel. I only came dangerously close to face planting once…of course that one time had to have an audience.
On our hike down the mountain we met about 10 people still heading up, even with a dark cloud looming over the mountain. They were all above tree line when we met them plodding uphill. I hope they got smart and were off the mountain by the time the thunder started rumbling! We have made stupid decisions involving stormy hikes in the past – we were lucky. I hope they were just as lucky and I hope they do their research in the future!
It really was a beautiful hike and it felt SO much easier than our recent Belford/Oxford hike. I think we’ll be hiking up fourteeners quicker in the future, just because we know we can do it. Not only that, my legs survived about 25 miles of intense use last weekend. Know what that means?! There will definitely be some trail racing in my near future, I’m just not sure what kind or how far…