From Blanks Gulch
Saturday June 18, 2005
I awoke at 4:00AM and after a quick breakfast I was on the road to the mountains via route 285. The stars were magnificent and the traffic very light as I made very good time to Johnson’s Village and then left on 285 heading towards Salida. I turned on route 50 west and stopped for a brief rest at the Mt Shavano Snack Mart Truck Stop and got some gas. Then on route 50 west for a short distance before turning right and following the signs for the trailhead.
The sun was now rising and things were warming up as I drove several miles down a good dirt road, I got a little lost following another car but backtracked until I finally found the trailhead back in the trees. There were only about 6 cars and a few people just starting up the Colorado Trail to the right. I made ready my pack and started up the Colorado Trail at 7:05, after a short while the trail to Mt Shavano splits off to the left. The trail is excellent and climbs and winds up and around through a very scenic forest after a while the trail breaks to the right.
I continued to climb higher through the forest and around the right side of a heavily wooded grade, here I could see the distinct remains of a glacier with many rocks and boulders and the trail then begins a series of switchbacks as I was nearing tree line. I exited the forest at tree line and began hiking along the left side of a rocky ridge which soon gave way to a long traverse leading up to a saddle to the left of the Mt Shavano summit ridge. In the forest I had passed 6 or 7 people, well ahead on the traverse I could now see another couple and one other person much further along starting up towards the saddle.
The ascent on the traverse starts gradually and then becomes much steeper as it gets closer to the saddle; I passed the couple as I was nearing the switchbacks leading to the saddle and then took a little rest before proceeding up to the saddle. Facing the saddle to my left a few hundred yards was a long trough full of snow that went all the way from the saddle into the trees far below. The sun was much higher now and a bit of a breeze was starting to blow as I started up the switchbacks climbing much more quickly now as the ascent was much steeper. As I reached the saddle the wind was now blowing much harder and made it much colder, I passed a guy who was adding a layer here and then I stopped to do the same.
The wildflowers at the saddle were in beautiful scattered patches between the boulders as I climbed up on to the summit ridge; here I met up with a guy named Mark and we each made our way to the summit together and clambered up the right side of the ridge as the trail became undefined and finally we just simply scrambled directly up and on to the summit at 10:00. There were four people on top and soon after reaching the summit the wind stopped and things started warming up again.
Pleasantries were exchanged and photos shot of each other with one another’s cameras, the views were spectacular and Tabeguache Peak can be seen most prominent to the north with snow capped peaks as far as I could see. The weather was now ideal with plenty of sunshine and the winds had now stopped completely. Mark and I met two others (Martin & Josh) and we decided to go on to Tabeguache Peak together after taking some photos, grabbing a bite to eat, a long drink of water and about a 25 min rest.
My 10th 14’er……..now on to Tabeguache Peak. Sweet!!