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Filed under: Family Camping, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Taking Along the Family Pet

Climbing in Colorado–Part 2: The Summit

October 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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My last post (see 9/29/13) left my husband and me part way up our ascent of one of Colorado’s intrepid 14ers, Mt. Shavano, 14, 229 feet. The climb, only four miles, seemed to last forever! Our son, Ryan, was already awaiting us at the top. As we rounded the last corner of the mountain, we saw ahead of us what looked like a massive pile of rocks. We noted the trail crossed over to it and climbed up, much to our chagrin. This was beginning to feel like the hike that would not end. At that point, we got a phone call from Ryan (yes, we actually had cell service atop the mountain!) from the peak. The wind had picked up so I was unable to hear him well so we ended the call. The temperature was also dropping precipitously.

The endless path ahead

The endless path ahead

On we hiked. Very soon, climbing this massive boulder pile became an effort that required both arms and legs. The dogs had no trouble, being four-legged creatures to start with, but Terry and I struggled.

It seemed like we climbed those boulders forever! Eventually we could see we were reaching the top of the pile; finally the summit was close. We spotted another couple who called out cheerily to us that our son was just beyond where they were. I must have looked pretty bad, because she was very encouraging, saying “Just a little further.  Keep coming this way.”

Ryan greeted us at the top (he is 22 years old)

Ryan greeted us at the top (he is 22 years old)

Finally we heard a call from Ryan and stepped up on the next boulder and there he was! We had summited the four mile trail in 3 hours 23 minutes. We hiked on a bit trying to find a nice level spot to sit for a rest and have a snack before heading down. There were no flat spots to be had. The entire top of Mt. Shavano was covered with rocks and boulders; the spaces between them were so small that we had to brace our feet vertically in order to stand. It still amazes that that you cannot tell this from the photos. It looks as if we are all standing casually and comfortably at the top!

Mt. Shavano, Colorado summitOnce at the top and a bit rested, we looked over at the traverse to Tabegauche Peak and noticed the storms moving in. Ryan had already scoped out the situation during the 45 minutes he awaited us at the top and filled us in on which storms were moving what direction. We jointly decided it was not a good day to push our luck and try the second summit. It would require us to hike a mile further and the hike we had just completed was only four miles; but it was quite an ascent. An extra mile up, then down, could probably have taken up to an hour. Given the looks of the storm, we did not have that kind of time.

The traverse looked a bit intimidating, even without the storms moving in.

The traverse looked a bit intimidating, even without the storms moving in.

We packed and began to descend. As we did so, snow flurries began to fall. We continued on, hoping to get down below tree line before the skies opened up. We were lucky; the flurries stopped and the storm blew over, but it could have ended badly. When hiking, we must always be watching the skies.

Read more about Colorado campgrounds and things to do in Colorado. Coming Next: Part 3: The Descent and a Surprise!

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