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Solo No More

sunny 60 °F

I know I just wrote an entry the other night, but I wanted to write again because of the events that transpired yesterday. First, I am all moved in up here in beautiful Eagle Vail Colorado. I am biking distance from Beaver Creek and this area is just beyond gorgeous. Wow. I'm heading out today to explore the villages of Vail and the Teva Mountain Games and perhaps try a new restaurant or two, and after a few more weeks like this hopefully I'll soon feel like a local here in Vail. PS, I'm learning that there are discounts for "locals" all over the place up here, especially in Avon. Definitely good to know!

Now, for yesterday. I won't post any pictures here because I think most of you awesome subscribers are friends on facebook as well and can see them all there. Yesterday was the first, and probably last for at least a while, time that I attempted a 14er solo. I thought with my level of experience I'd be ok going solo. I know when to bail, weather, rules of early starts, and so on, and I now have a PLB in the event of something catastrophic. I got up and was on the trail by 4am to try to get out early and make good time, and I knew doing two in a day I would need the time. I reached the base of the Angel of Shavano at 6:15am, climbed the snowfield (with no crampons or microspikes, I was proud), and summitted Shavano at 8:45 including breaks along the way. So, trailhead to summit was about 4 hours of solid hiking. I was feeling great. Took the necessary pictures, enjoyed the views, refueled and rehydrated, and pushed on for Tabaguache. I made it to the summit of Tab in just over an hour, which I was again pleased with given the snowfield I went up and the time I was making. It was barely ten, so now all I had to do was re-summit Shav and head back down. Easy, right?

I glisaded back down to the saddle and I gained the summit again up Shav, and decided to take the summer trail down because I figured it would be faster, easier to follow, and somebody on 14ers.com claimed it was ready for summer. False, false, false. Somewhere around 12,500ft or so, it turns into a mush of snow, sinking to your waist regularly. At this point, I lost total track of where the summer trail was, but not to worry, I went down the gully to the base of the Angel of Shavano with the intent to follow that out. The trail out of there is hard to follow and at times there are many, and so I continued down hoping I'd find my trail from the morning. No luck. Eventually, about 1pm, I realized I was definitely lost. Out came the GPS. Stay calm. I marked the location of the car that morning knowing if something happened I'd still make it out ok. But, my GPS batteries were fading fast, and it doesn't pick up signal well in dense trees. No matter, it must work at this point.

Sure enough, I'm 1.5 miles away from my car. I set it to go to car, and away I go, bushwacking through everything in my path. I get .9 miles form the car, and the GPS batteries die. Dear lord, no, I refuse. I get it to come back on again for another bit or so, reach .5 miles from the car, and it dies again. At this point I have a much better sense of where the trail is in relation to me, but still I try to turn it on again. Luckily, it works, and at .2 miles I reach a dirt road that goes to overnight camping sites and overflow trailhead parking. I'm almost there. Batteries die again, so I head down the road in the direction that makes sense, turn the GPS back on again, and find my way back to the car. Exhausted, beaten up from bushwacking through everything to get out in one piece, my rain paints now have two solid rips in them from bushwacking, I twisted my ankle three times, and a few scrapes and bruises, but at least I know I can head home now. There is no way I was hiking the next day as originally planned, and I made my way back here to Vail. I learned a lot about myself and composure yesterday when some people would have panicked feeling lost, helpless, and alone. So now, back in sunny Vail, I am heading out over the next few days to check out the Teva Mountain Games and maybe get some skiing in.

Some people say you never learn not to play with fire until you get burned, and I guess you could say I learned my lesson.

Posted by la vita bella 09:48 Archived in USA Tagged france vista sherman massive buena vail shavano tabaguache princeton antero elbert fairplay

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You didn't get burned, you just learned how to handle the heat - but it would be nice to go with a pal AND pack lots of batteries. Great adventure!

by Lori Grant

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