Peak(s):  Tabeguache Peak  -  14,155 feet
Carbonate Mtn A  -  13,663 feet
Date Posted:  10/24/2011
Date Climbed:   10/21/2011
Author:  CinciKid
 Tab via Jennings Creek...Kinda  

Ever since I had gotten chased off of Shavano I had wanted to knock out the second 14er on this ridge. After working from 9pm-3am I took a 2.5 hour nap and then headed out to hike. Yea it wasn't alot of sleep but I knew that the snow free hiking season was coming to a close. After a drive out on 24 from the Springs I got to the Angel of Shavano TH. Roach's book said 3.8 mi. more till Jennings creek so I reset my odometer and at 3.8 I saw nothing that made me think of a TH so I continued 0.2 mi farther till i reached a very large dirt parking lot. This had to be the trailhead! There was another car parked there already, this had to be it. Side note: I took a 2000 Subaru Outback up the 4WD road to Jennings Creek...bad idea. The way up was easy but the drive back down the road absolutely punished my car. It never truly bottomed out but it took a beating for a car with 180,000 miles on it. Anyways, I parked in the lot pictured below believing it was the TH.
wrong TH

So since the huge, nicely groomed, parking lot looking area was not the trailhead when I was coming back down I eventually found it. It look nothing like a TH. Lesson learned, should have read more of people's trip reports or researched it better because I'm sure people have had this exact same problem before.
the right TH

I started hiking up a pretty defined trail that soon disappeared after about 0.2 miles but since Roach's book had said that the trail was in disrepair I thought that this made sense. After a few more minutes of hiking the trail completely disappeared and I found myself making my own trail through some pretty thick trees. At this point I thought I knew where I was, that was soon to change.
looking back at parking lot from "trail"

Looking to my left I saw a gulch I assumed to be the gulch that would run into the saddle between Tab and Carbonate. I knew the trail was supposed to go through a gulch and for an instant I had the idea of dropping down into the gulch to find the "real trail" but I was looking at the Cyclone Creek gulch instead of Jennings Creek. There was a trail running up the Cyclone Creek gulch so this further confirmed my idea that I was on the right path.

I soon hiked my way through the thickest part of the trees and saw a ridge sloping up and to the right in front of me. I decided that you can't go wrong with gaining the ridge line especially with the weather being so perfect so I made my way up to the ridge line which I thought would point me in the direction of Tab.
hung a right here and gained the ridge

Having done Shavano before, and having intended to do Tab on that trip, I knew what they looked like. As I gained the ridge I looked right and immediately knew something was off. To my right were two peaks that really really really resembled Shavano and Tab. This had been sitting down looking over my map to find out where I was. I hate not knowing exactly where I am at all times on a hike.
at this point I realized I was not where I thought I was

I figured the best way to solve this problem would be to keep hiking up the ridge to confirm my position and to see the best possible route from this point on. After hiking up the ridge a bit further I saw something that resembled a summit. This would turn out to be Carbonate Mt.
looking up at Carbonate

At this point I knew exactly where I was and tried to make the best out of my mistake by going to the summit of Carbonate.
Carbonate Mt

At this time I was pressed for time because I had to work that night. I shot down the saddle between Carbonate and Tab and tried to calculate if I had time. I said a couple prayers asking for wisdom and at that point I decided to go for it. I set a time that I had to be at the summit by and I set off. If I did not meet my goals along the way I promised myself I would turn around.
looking up at Tab

At this point I was moving pretty fast. I shot up the ridge and was keeping pace for my time to be at the summit.
the ridge up to Tab

With the summit finally in sight I could relax a little bit because I was way ahead of schedule. The false summits did get quite annoying but the ridge line was pretty fun because depending on what route you take there is some fun class 3 stuff that you can do. Not anything hard, just a nice change up from the usual walking to a summit. The weather that day could not have been nicer. It was decently windy but my jacket was keeping me completely warm and and the sky was clear of weather.


I had passed a couple guys on the ridge line that had made exactly the same mistake as I had. They had driven the silver Subaru in the parking lot that I had seen when I had parked earlier that morning. They were just as mad as I was at having been misguided by bad directions to the trailhead. I was just happy at this point to have gotten to the summit on time. I snapped a couple of self photos at the summit and then headed back down.

I decided to try and cut off a lot of my earlier hike by descending into Jennings Creek on the way back. I got down to a ridge pointing south from Tab and then decided to descend down its west side in hopes of joining up with the trail that goes up Jennings Creek. The descent down this ridge was ROUGH. It was all loose rock and gravel and I had a hard time keeping balance. In hindsight I should have tried to continue down the ridge and go down a less steep section. I fell a couple times and banged up my right leg pretty good. Admittedly this was a terrible route down but I needed to get back to my car ASAP so I wouldn't be late to work.

I finally made it down to the valley floor where I joined up with the Jennings Creek trail. From here it was smooth sailing. The trail was faint in some areas but compared to what I had hiked through earlier it felt like I-70 going through the valley.
McCoy Gulch


I made it back to the 4WD road and knew that I had gone too far west that morning so I took a right and started walking up the road. About 5-10 minutes later I saw my car and realized just how close I had been to getting on the right trail. I got home in time for work and realize that maybe getting "lost" wasn't so bad because I got to hike a 13er as well. I just made the best of the situation and it ended up being a great hike. Kinda frustrating at times, but it ended up being a fun, unexpected surprise. Below is a picture of my route.
route in red

RT time: 6 hours 10 minutes

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

 Comments or Questions

10/24/2011 16:04
Way to get it to work out. Turned out to be a nice loop eh?

It wasn't McCoy Gulch
10/24/2011 18:40
I believe you actually traversed the top of McCoy Gulch and returned via Jennings Creek. If you had gone down McCoy you would have been cliffed out according to what i have read - definitely would not have made work! That really is a miserable traverse across endless scree - I bange myself up a couple of times too. Kinda tricky trail to find - I used the Roach mileage and found it OK but it is not an obvious TH by any means. Nice job pulling it off.


10/24/2011 20:01
you're completely right, i meant Jennings Creek. I'm gonna go back and edit that so people dont try that way because I have heard thats pretty nasty.

Stee Vee Dee

Alternate route
10/25/2011 01:53
In his 13ers book, Roach describes a route up Cyclone Creek to North Carbonate. As an extra credit, he has a spur route from the Cyclone-Carbonate saddle to Carbonate. In the 14ers book, he has a spur route from the Jennings Creek west ridge route over to Carbonate. So I have considered climbing Tabeguache from Cyclone Creek via Carbonate. My Ford Fusion did not make it all the way to Jennings Creek; we parked about .1 miles down (but above the falls) and hiked to Jennings and beyond. Never saw the parking lot you described, but we were geocaching and stopped at the Shavano Townsite. The flat parking area may have been just around the bend, but we never made it that far. Thanks for the report.


An elusive trailhead indeed!
10/25/2011 06:22
Congrats! For what it's worth, a couple of years ago, I went with LostSheep5 up the West Ridge route from Jennings Creek that the Roachs describe. Someone (FS?) has done a good job of hiding this trailhead - presumably to keep people off the CLOSED SW ridge route. But we were able to find the ”trailhead” in the dark (after a couple of passes) at the distance that they note. Also, I was able to get my little Honda Fit up there (although I DON'T recommend it). I think KeithK has a good TR for this approach looped with Shavano. And here are my pics of that day. The first one in particular may be useful to others trying to find the trailhead: . I don't suppose you noticed the stakes in the ground on your way back to the 4wd road?


What did you eat after the hike?
07/13/2012 01:13
Man I wish we could get a 5-way and a cheese cony after a 14er.



Oh man I wish!!!
07/13/2012 03:05
That would be awesome. I actually moved back home recently so i have all the skyline I could want but no mountains...


McCoy Gulch
04/02/2015 19:45
All I remember from reading the Roach 14ers book (Shav-Tab) chapter is: ”Do NOT descend McCoy Gulch”. It cliffs out near the bottom. Glad things turn out ok!

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