| Shavano and Tabeguache in a Day's Work
Shavano was the primary peak on the agenda for the day, and I figured I would proceed to Tabeguache only if the conditions, both mine and the weather, were right. I got off to a less-than-ideal start, hitting the trail at a rather late hour (8:15 a.m.) after a somewhat fitful sleep the night before, so I was mentally prepared to summit Shavano and call it a day. The fact that the combination would require 5600 feet of elevation gain and loss was weighing on me, and I didn’t want to commit to the traverse to Tabeguache and back if I didn’t feel entirely up to the task.
The trail starts out at an easy amble through the forest so I jogged through this nearly flat section to make up time, passing the trail junction shortly.
Trail Junction - Shav/Tab Route heads left
As noted in previous reports, the trail bore the vestiges of many uprooted trees from the brutal winds that had ravaged the area earlier in the year.
Dead trees strewn all over
The gentle trail soon transitioned to steeper sections as it climbed through the thick pines.
Nearing 12,000 feet, as I crossed the large rock pile I stopped to admire the view to the south.
Trail through rock pile
View to the south
The trail then breaks above treeline, giving an early glimpse of the southern arm of the Angel of Shavano and the saddle with Espirit Point to the left (13,630’).
Angel of Shavano's Arm
As I scoured the route ahead, my eyes wandered up the slope to my right and, lo and behold, I spotted a grazing herd of sheep.
Fauna at 12,000'!
Indeed, a couple had even wandered down to the trail, so I was in for a real treat!
Sheep on Trail!
He doesn't need a trail!
But the hike had to go on, so I surveyed the route up to the saddle as I resumed.
Trail snakes alongside Angel
On the expansive saddle, the winds were now making their presence felt. As I stopped to take in the view, a fellow hiker was kind enough to take my picture, with Shavano setting the backdrop. Other hikers can be spotted on the trail to the left of this picture.
With over 800 feet left to gain, I stepped on the gas once again. There appeared to be multiple options on this final pitch, but following the cairns made path finding easy.
Cairns on Talus
On the summit, I was rewarded with great views. 8)
View from Shav's Summit
Looking down McCoy Gulch
My eyes quickly glanced over the ridge toward Tabeguache.
Eyeing the Ridge to Tabegauche
I had made better-than-expected time to Shavano’s summit and the prevailing weather conditions were near perfect, so I had no excuses not to tackle the traverse to Tabeguache. Sure, the trudge back up to Shavano’s summit would be a challenge but I knew that if I didn’t go for it now, it would likely never happen. With no existing direct trails up to Tabguache, this would be my best shot at summiting Shavano’s sister peak.
Fortunately, I wasn’t the only hiker that had their sights set on more torture, so I followed another group as they set off on the ridge route.
The trip down to the saddle was slower than anticipated, as picking the best route across the rocky ridge took a little navigating.
Down the Ridge to Tab's Saddle
Once on the saddle, I launched a steady attack on the talus up to Tab’s summit. Again, the cairns were well placed and this scramble would prove to be easier than the final ascent back to Shavano.
Pitch from Saddle to Tab's Summit
Courtesy of another fellow hiker, here is a picture of yours truly atop Tab, the ridge to Shavano stretching behind me to the southwest.
Yours Truly atop Tabeguache
This view to the north shows Antero, with Princeton barely visible behind.
Antero acenter, Princeton just behind
View to the south and looking down the gully from Tab's summit.
Gully from Tab's Summit
I spent some time enjoying the glorious sights atop Tabeguache, but made the mistake of not fortifying myself with food, an error that would cost me on the drive back up to Shavano’s summit.
Return ascent - Shavano is hideen from view
Another mistake I made on the return traverse was straying too far off the ridgeline and having to scurry back up repeatedly, effectively adding more elevation gain to that final pitch.
This shot shows the last stretch; the tiny specks on top are hikers basking on the summit!
Nearing Shav's Summit- Second Time!
All in all, I was none the worse for it and nitpicking aside, I was sure glad I decided to “bag” both peaks to make it a truly memorable hike.
Trail from just below Shav's Summit
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