This was my 49th birthday and overall a good one. Summited my fourth 14er in four days (bringing my total 14er count to 14). Here is my journal entry:
Happy b-day to me!The day started out hard & ended nice & relaxed. I left Mike's @ 4:45 or so and arrived @ the Mt. Shavano trail head @ 8:15 or so and was off @ 8:30. My goal was both Shavano & Tabeguache, but that ended up being ridiculous. For one being the 4th 14er in 4 days, my body was starting to feel the effects. and the 7 miles r-t distance was long. About half the trail was thru a thick forest of spruce, fir & aspen that gave way to stubbier alpine fir & finally krummholz & timberline. The forest smelled very "piney" or "foresty," it was nice. But long & steadily uphill.As with all the Collegiates, Shavano's front face is E/SE exposed & the trail climbed up across the right side of the "Angel" to reach a grassy saddle @ 13???'. [it turns out to be around 13,400' - Jim] The tundra was in bloom & all those tiny, tiny yellow, white & blue blooms were putting out so much scent it smelled like honey - a phenom Mike & I experienced on Mt. Elbert on my b-day 11 years ago today!After the saddle is a steep, rocky but well-cairned route up to the false summit (2nd motto for trip - "The summit you see is not the true summit.") Then up some scrambly rock. Since the saddle I had been stopping often to catch my breath. By the top I was stopping every 5-10 steps. But I made it! I summited @12:05 - so a 3 hr. 35 min. pace. I took pictures, ate some fruit, drank & looked around, & then descended because there were clouds forming & it was visibly raining on Mt. Harvard just a few mi. N. It spitted a little on me once during descent but not enough to make me wet.The mountain had a decently small number of people on it, it being a Wed. I think I told everyone I met it was my b-day! :o) Then began the long descent. I had a 2 liter water bladder from Mike, since my brand new Camelbak failed on the 1st day of the trip! Anyway, 2 liters is not enough for this climb - 3 is min. & I think 4 would be good if you were trying to summit Tab. as well. Because so much of the trail is sun-exposed & for some reason the Ark. River valley 14ers get more sun, especially on their east sides, which are way more exposed for long distances to direct sun than their San Juan brethren. And a lot of the trails are on the east sides of the mtns. - the sides that tower 6K' above the valley.Anyway, it was sunny & I was husbanding water for the whole trip. It was getting low - I did not want it to run out, but I was also not wanting to be dehydrated. I finally stumbled across some Boy Scouts & bummed some water off one of the troop leaders (a KU student). I could tell they were Boy Scouts when I saw the # of identical blue tents pitched thru the trees, teen boys lolling about trying to not be bored.Thanks to the extra water the rest of the way down was a tiring down hike with tired legs stumbling on the occasional rock (26 hits, Mike! I counted against myself!) I was down by 2:56. I was in the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs by 4:00 in a set of trunks from the lost & found. It was marvelous, as all mtn hot springs are after a tiring day of something strenuous. They aren't as big as Ouray, but the crowd is much smaller, too. I mainly alternated between the "hot" & "not as hot" pools, although I tried the creekside "natural" "pools" (of rocks) as well. It was a wonderful 2 hr. relaxing soak.Then I went looking for campsites up both Chalk & Cottonwood creeks & decided, "It's my b-day, I am going to eat Mexican food & sleep in a real bed." So I rented a small "housekeeping" cabin & went & ate @ the over-priced but good Casa del Sol, another Arkansas Valley b-day tradition from 11 yrs.