Hike two, get the third free! That’s what Ryan and I set out for this past weekend. We would climb Mt. Shevano (14,232ft), make the traverse to Tabeguache Peak (14,162ft), then return the way we came to re-summit Mt. Shevano on our way back down. We love being able to get multiple summits in one trip, and what better day for it than a Saturday with no rain in the forecast?! While this would be a full day hike at 11.25mi with 5,600ft in elevation gain round trip, it was sure to be a good time.
FYI: Tabeguache is pronounced “Tab-Uh-Wash”!
We drove up to the trailhead on Friday after work, arriving around 9pm (it took us about 4hrs to get here from Boulder). Signs in the actual parking lot say no camping, but as you continue through you will see a sign for dispersed camping with an arrow pointing down the road. We followed this for about 0.25mi and found a huge field! There were already a few cars parked with tents set up nearby (everyone was already asleep) so we quickly pulled off the road, turned the headlights off, set up the Tepui, and crawled into bed for the night.
The alarm went off at 4am. We heard similar sounds outside the tent; hushed voices, car doors closing, headlamps flashing. Everyone getting ready for an alpine start.
We got dressed, ate some overnight oats, and walked to the trailhead for a 4:30am official start time. Hiking in the dark, we made our way up the trail. The first half mile starts off very flat and mellow until you reach a split in the trail; be sure to go left here! Left will take you on the Shavano/Tabeguache trail while right will take you on the Colorado Trail.
As soon as you turn left at this junction, it seemingly goes straight up the hillside on a rocky trail. Heads down, we pushed through this section with very little breaks and even less conversation; the layers began coming off immediately.
The trail continues onward and upward, taking you through the forest. There’s a small stream crossing with several wildflowers in the area.
In what feels like an eternity, you finally begin to break treeline. We broke treeline just as the sun rose over the horizon– meaning we had now been hiking in the forest for about two hours.
Once you break treeline, your path is fairly straightforward. You can see the trail ahead of you make its way up to the saddle with Mt. Shevano towering above to the right. This section was the toughest for us– the trail went straight up the hillside, and with a combination of loose dirt and rock, we took frequent breathers. Luckily there were some bighorn sheep off in the distance and some grouse right off the trail to entertain us!
(Yes– we had many “why did the mountain chicken cross the road” jokes).
Once you reach the top of the saddle, you have just 700ft left to climb to the summit. Soon the trail becomes unrecognizable, and you just make your way to the top via large boulders and scree field.
Woo hoo! The summit! We got here at 8:30am, making for exactly 4hrs of hiking time. We shared the summit with a handful of people, ate some snacks, and then continued on to Tabeguache Peak which was waiting for us in the distance.
You follow the obvious path across the ridge. There is no longer a trail, but you just stay high and rock-hop your way down to the saddle. Once on the saddle, you are looking up at a never-ending sea of rock. Luckily, this section was a lot easier than it looked! There were a few cairns placed to guide the way, but you are forging your own trail for the most part.
Soon you reach the false summit, and all you have to do is make the final push!
One hour after leaving the summit of Mt. Shevano and we summited Tabeguache Peak! We had total solitude for a few minutes before two other climbers joined us. We sat and chatted with them for about an hour before heading back.
The return trail is the exact same way that you came. This too passed quickly as we rock hopped our way back to the summit of Mt. Shevano. We did come across this stoked little rock guy on the ridge– I’d probably look like that if I lived here full time, too!
We re-summited Mt. Shevano around 11am, one hour after leaving the summit of Tabeguache Peak. This time we shared the summit with LOTS of people. This was a typical scene of a Colorado 14er on a bluebird summer day, and it had me feeling very grateful for our 4:30am start.
We did not stop for long up here, and began our trek down back to the trailhead.
RIP, knees. The four miles of incredibly steep and rocky downhill was certainly hard on the joints, but we did not stop and made good time in returning to level ground. The lower in elevation we got, the hotter it got! It was truly a perfect summer day to be out in the mountains.
The descent took us 3hrs and we got back to the car around 2pm (making it a 10hr day). In the daylight, we were able to fully appreciate the beauty of the place that we had set up camp in the night before. It was so beautiful that we vowed to come back just for a camping trip!
As fun as hiking Mt. Shevano and Tabeguache Peak was.. one time was enough for us. We are happy to check those off our list, and now feel even better prepared to take on long day trips and multiple summits in the future.