I was feeling a little behind on my 30by30 progress so I decided to put in some pto and hit the Sawatch range for a few days. My long weekend started out with some car camping at the Blank Cabin trail head with plans of tacking Mt Shavano and Tabeguache Peak bright and early. The plan was to get a 4am start, but that did not happen due to a really comfortable sleeping bag. Let me say being woken up by a black furry mammal starting you down is a bit unsettling. After my heart palpitations were over I hit the trail a little after 7am.
There were no route finding issues at all on either of these peaks. This was my 2nd time up both of these summits so I really just wanted to get them over with! It took me about 2 hours to get to the Shavano summit and then another hour to get over to Tab and back. I was back in my sleeping bag reading a book by 11:30am. In hind sight I could have probably bagged another peak that afternoon, the weather was perfect!
Mt. Shavano from Tabegauche Peak
As I was resting up near the trail head a few groups of people came down talking about a guy who was moving really slow and having a hard time making his way down Shavano. At that point I had no other 14er plans for the day so I grabbed a little extra water and headed back up to make sure this guy was doing all right. I ran into him about 3 miles up the trail just below tree line and honestly he was doing fine, just a little slow and tired after tackling both 14ers. He did not accept any water or food from me but I decided to hike back out with him for moral support because I have been in his position before and know how much having someone to chat with makes the miles go by a little faster. Early morning on Mt. Princeton.
The rest of my day was spent napping, driving into town to eat an entire pizza solo and trying to find the Mt. Antero trail head. After 2 hours of looking at the map and driving back and forth on the same road I decided to just skip Antero and camp at the Princeton trail head instead. I managed to make it just past the radio towers on the 4×4 road, cutting the trip almost in half from the bottom parking lot.
A look back at the trail up Mt. Princeton
Again the hike up Princeton was really straight forward, you can see the trail and summit almost the entire hike. I cruised on up to the summit seeking out crazy marmots on the way up, unfortunately they were either all still sleeping or got they got the memo that the marmot paparazzi was on the mountain.
Mt Princeton took me 3 and a half hours which got me back to the car by 9:30am. This gave me plenty of time to drive over to Yale and check another 14er off the list. Normally I would not start a 14er at 11:30am but the skies were completely clear and I went into it fully prepared to abandon the hike if the weather took a turn.
Curious Goat did not want to share my snickers
The hike up Mt. Yale was a little longer than Princeton but the weather held out and it was a perfect day to chill out on the summit and enjoy a snack and laugh at the wild life. There was a very curious goat that scared me half to death, I was sitting down in the pile of rocks in the picture below and he just cruised right up and peeked his head over the ledge. I am pretty sure he did not see me because he scampered away as soon as he realized there was a person sitting there.
Cold and windy Belford summit approach!
Very low visibility on the summit!
After my day on Yale I slept at the Missouri Gulch trail head with high hopes of bagging Belford, Oxford, Missouri. I hit the trail bright and early, but ended up hiking into a snow storm hanging over the Missouri Gulch valley. There were a lot of people turning back but after hiking the switch backs up to Missouri Gulch I as not leaving with out at least one peak! There was no thunder or lightning, just really high winds and snow. I was able to tolerate the weather up to the Belford summit but it was complete white out conditions at the summit so I cut my losses and headed back down with 1 of the 3 summits I wanted for the day because I knew I would be back in the area helping a friend with his Nolan’s 14 attempt. Stay tuned for that write up!