Mt. Antero, Tabeguache Peak, and Mt. Shavano from Browns Creek TH
10 hours, 20 minutes of fun
Hikers/Climbers/Runners/Whateverers: Me, Jake, Christoph*
I had a free weekend, so I figured I better spend some time on my feet. On Saturday, I ran the 26.5 miles from Palmer Lake to my place in 3:33. No Boston qualifier, but the 8:00 miles did feel good.
Sunday's plan came together as the week progressed; I'd known I wanted to get into the mountains for something long, but had a bunch of ideas. By mid-week, I had done some research and decided that hitting the Shavano group would be a good run. I also hoped to scout out more of the Nolan's 14 course. (I had already been to the top of all three peaks, but had never been in the basin between Antero and the other two) Christoph was up for a day in the mountains. So was Jake, a sophomore at the Naval Academy who used to run for Cheyenne Mountain. Crew assembled; game on.
|Wheels up at 6:30. A little on the late side, but we move.|
|Little Browns Creek Trail was somewhat undulate-y. For us, it was about 75% runnable going up. As with everything else I've seen in the Sawatch this spring, there was quite a bit of deadfall.|
|The trail is lest densely forested than those in the northern Sawatch. This cool little clearing must've been around 10,000'.|
|Mt. White in the background. Our route would find us circumnavigating the whole thing.|
|Around treeline. Christoph decided at this point to bag any idea of hitting a bunch of peaks, as he wasn't feeling too hot.|
|9AM - 3:30 into our day. Jake looking out toward our next objective - Tabeguache.|
|We took Jeep roads down from Antero for as far as we could. Eventually we had to bite the bullet and bushwhack across the upper basin.|
|Looking up to the Tabeguache/Carbonate saddle. Notice the clouds...trust me, we did. We knew we were racing time and were in full-on kick ass mode, as the next couple miles were all very high and exposed.|
|Jake near the summit, looking east toward Shavano and wondering which one of us was going to get struck my lightning.|
|"LET IT BE ME, LORD.....LET IT BE ME!!!" Tempting fate.|
|Right after a strike...|
|The last bit passing by. Mammatus clouds, I believe?|
|Back in the sun on Shavano's summit.|
|Down, down, down.|
|The "impassable deadfall" on Shavano's standard route. Hey Forest Service dudes...you guys are freaking awesome. Seriously, some amazing work to clear the trail!|
|Some sort of demonic deadfall hatchling I suppose.|
When it was all said and done, we covered 26.3 miles. I had no intentions of running back-to-back marathon distances days, but there it was. I ended up with 101 for the week...somewhat by accident. A great day, though, as I got to see much more of this area than I ever experienced during my initial climbs of these three peaks nearly ten years ago. We stopped at the Coyote Cantina in Johnson Village, ate like kings, and began scheming for the next meaty mountain loop.
Disclaimer: OK, so let me get this straight. Getting stuck up high during a storm is no picnic. Could it have been avoided? Yep. An earlier start would've been the best defense. In 100+ summits of 14,000' peaks, this was the sketchiest weather I've ever had to deal with. Considering the stories I've heard from others, I consider myself lucky.
Ultra-types: Another pretty cool loop. Of the 26 miles, I'd estimate we were able to run about 13-15 of them. Going Antero first allowed us to run the jeep roads down for a few miles...it might be pretty difficult to run them upward. The icing on the cake was the stretch of the CT from Blank Cabin to Browns Creek...beautiful stuff.
Hikers: Little Browns Creek is a way to take in some otherwise ho-hum mountains. I distinctly remember being kind of jaded by Antero - the roads, gem-diggers, 4x4's, etc. Approaching this way meant we didn't have to deal with the junk show until the very end. For those of you who kind of like the "solitude" thing, forget Baldwin Gulch!
26, 45, close enough. Cannot wait till this album comes out in July.