8.01.2006

Two more off the list

This weekend it was more high peaks in Colorado. Seems to be a pattern in the summer! Friday night my friend Drew and I drove down towards the trailhead for two fourteeners at the southern end of the Sawatch Range. Along the way we stopped in Buena Vista to enjoy a Prime Rib dinner to fuel up before our hike. We set up camp near the trailhead in a nice meadow and tried to get a good nights sleep. Unfortunately the area we were camping (as well as part of the lower sections of trail) are actually on open range. This means that cows can pretty much wander around and graze wherever they like, and whenever they like. Such as 1am, and only 1000 feet from our camp. They moo-ed most of the night and kept me from getting a nice full night of sleep. Before I knew it the sun was coming up and it was time to start our journey. We hit the trail at 6.30am and made good time to treeline. The trail starts at only 9,800', and before we knew it we were up a the saddle below the final summit pitch at 13,400'. Up to this point the trail was really good and easy to follow as well, and despite being steep in parts was generally fairly easy. Above the saddle the trail starts to fizzle out in a few spots but the last 800' to the summit went quickly and without too much difficulty we were at the top at 10am. Shavano was our first summit, the 17th highest peak in the state at 14,229'. We had climbed some 4400' in just over 4 1/2 miles! We decided not to hang out on the summit too long so that we could head over to neighboring Tabeguache Peak just about a mile away. Between us stood a rocky ridge that descended to 13,700' before climbing to Tabeguache's summit at 14,155'. There were only two other people on the summit and we had a quick snack and took some pictures before heading back down. The route unfortunately reclimbs Shavano on the way down, meaning yet another 529' of climbing on the way out. That really started to wear on Drew, and particularly his dog Angel, seeing as they haven't been up a high peak like this is over a year. On the way down we stopped at the creek for a little break where Angel made himself a little bed next to a tree to rest. We made it back to the car at about 2pm, for me these were numbers 28 and 29 on the fourteeners list, and 46 overall in the Highest Hundred. That elusive halfway point keeps getting closer!

We had dinner (pizza this time) and headed to another campsite where we hoped to do another peak on Sunday. Unfortunately the Saturday climb proved too much for my hiking partners and we headed to Leadville for breakfast instead. On the way back home we stopped along the way for a short hike to Whitney Lake, which is about a 5 mile round trip. The lake is really nice and had some big trout in it that we could see through the clear water. Occassionally one would come to the surface to eat a bug that was on the water. It was a nice relaxing spot and a good way to chill after a weekend that involved over 16 miles of hiking and 7000' of vertical gain. Phew! Can't wait for Saturday to do it all over again...