We started out at just a few minutes after 3 a.m. and headed out with headlamps. This trail head has a restroom at the start, which is much nicer than the alternative, if I may say so. So, for miles and miles, it was dark and hiking in the dark is weird. You know that scene in Snow White (the first Disney movie) after the huntsman tells her to “Run!” and she is running through the forest, a thunderstorm starts, and roots and branches grab at her arms and her clothes as she’s running through the dark? Well, I wasn’t running, but the roots were grabby and the rocks were tripping me and there were interesting and unique sounds coming from either side of the trail.
I LIVED in books as a kid – I read everything I could get my hands on, the entire Three Musketeers, Gone with the Wind, Bambi, all of the Lord of the Rings series, everything. We had various farms, each getting larger, and we didn’t have a lot to do in the summer when school was out besides chores, so we read. A lot. As I’m hiking in the dark, I always imagine how easy I would be for a native American to snatch me … I’m always at the back of the group of hikers and dang, I’m noisy. I imagine how they would laugh and follow me along and know I couldn’t see them, but they could see me.
Not only did I live in books; I also have a really active imagination.
So here is our time line for climbing Shavano, then Tabegauche and then back across Shavano and down:
Total time: 10.5 hours
3:05 a.m. start
5:30 a.m. treeline
7:30 a.m. top out on Shavano
9:00 a.m. top out on Tabegauche
10:20 a.m. back on Shavano
1:30 p.m. back at the potty and the Jeep
The unfortunate thing about starting this way is: There are no pictures! So, you’ll have to see the stuff we passed in the dark just like we did – after we got back down. So, these pictures are somewhat in reverse, but that was how we saw it.
So, here it is as the sun is starting to rise in the east, which incidentally was almost directly behind us as we were climbing to the saddle before Shavano.
As the sun started to get a little higher, the entire mountain took on a rosy gold glow. Really amazing light. This is just before the saddle … that peak to the right? That’s Shavano.
Then, on the saddle, it was relatively flat before we had to get to serious climbing …
and then things get really rough:
At the top of Shavano, it’s still pretty early. Here’s a shot nearly at the top looking back down on the saddle just before Shavano:
There’s a long drop and a flat field in between Shavano and Tabegauche. This is what that looks like:
… and then you start climbing again:
Looks like a wall of rock, doesn’t it? Well, that is pretty accurate. It looks much the same at the top except there’s an odd bit of wood sticking up out of the rocks.
That peak you see across the valley? That’s Antero.
We top out on Tabegauche and Mr. Man begins taking photos that he will later stitch together in one long stream. He hates the effect you get from just one bit of the scenery up there … it’s just so much bigger than is possible to express in one photo. I agree, but at this point, all I’m thinking about is the chocolate brownie I’m stuffing in my mouth.
He can take all the pictures he wants; I’m happy with my brownie. Until he makes me stand up so we can get our peak photo:
What’s next you ask? Well, my friend you go back the way you came. At this point, we’ve been hiking for … wait a minute, let me check the time line above … oh, six hours. Now we have to repeat it all backwards except for the dark part.
So, here goes the hike in reverse, skipping the ugly stuff, which I’ll talk about in a minute and skipping Shavano because there were at least 15 people on the top of that mountain and a wonderful group of dogs. It was noisy and chaotic and we skipped right through as quickly as we could. Hi, hi, have a good climb, good doggy! That kind of thing.
In fact, let’s just skip all the stuff to treeline and show you what we hiked through in the dark. A beautiful forest! With the clearest stream (we crossed this several times in the dark):
A lovely trail:
… with lovely soft-as-silk weeds and a picturesque Ralph Lauren fence:
… and tall, tall aspens in the clearest, cloud free sky:
… and the very rustic trail sign:
… and the lovely flowers:
Then, as we’re driving away, we look back to see the mountain range we climbed:
It always looks so scary when you look at it from this perspective and think to yourself, I climbed that!
OK, so that’s most of it. There are more lovely photos, which I’ll share this week and I’ll tell you about the ugly part. It involves a bruise that is rapidly changing colors as I type this and I don’t bruise easily. Right now, however, a certain patient four-legged one would like her mama to snuggle.