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getting in touch with my inner colorado girl

Two days, three mountains


Sometimes I’m a little ambitious with the schedule I create for my life. Like this past weekend, when I hiked three 14ers. Spoiler – I did make it in one piece – but I’m definitely taking next weekend off.

Three summits in two days. No big deal.

The summit fever started with Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peak on Saturday with my friends Britt and Molly. We met Friday night in Salida for some pizza and beers at Amica’s. Aligning with the overall theme of my weekend, we were a little overambitious with our pizza order. Perhaps we should have only ordered two pizzas.

This is what overambition looks like.

After eating as much pizza as we could, we headed to the trailhead to camp for the night. Again, we were a little hasty in our campsite selection, and as it turns out sleeping on a slope is not a great idea. Following a throughly unsatisfactory amount of sleep, I woke Britt up with “Make a Man Out of You” on my iPhone because I am a great friend like that.

Mulan = personal hero.

The trail for Shav/Tab, as all the cool kids call Mount Shavano and Tabeguache Peak, starts under 10,000 feet, and I knew we were going to be in for a climb. Overall the entire hike had 5,600 feet of elevation gain. And okay fine I only called it Shav/Tab because I had no idea how to actually pronounce Tabeguache.

 Even compared to La Plata Peak, the elevation gain for Shav/Tab was pretty extreme. To make matters more challenging, once we got up to the final ridge before the push to the summit, the wind started ripping. It was at least 25 MPH. I would even say 40 MPH.

Trying not to blow away.

We persevered through the wind and made it up to the summit eventually.

Shavano Summit.

View from the summit.

From Shavano, it was a mile hike with 500 feet elevation gain to Tabeguache. The bummer was that the only way back from Tabeguache was to resummit Shavano. Molly and I are apparently masochists, so we decided that adding two additional descents and ascents to bag another peak would be worth it. And it was.

Looking at Tab from the saddle between the peaks.

Tabeguache Peak, my 15th career 14er.

The tricky thing with all 14ers is that making it to the summit is only half the battle. The hike down from the peak can also be a killer. I had a headache all morning but thought it was due to not having coffee. (I’m definitely a 3-4 cup a day kind of girl.) On the hike down from Shavano, my headache worsened. I’ve never had a migraine, but I imagine it’s probably similar to that. I think I was just severely dehydrated. Either way though, I don’t ever recommend hiking down 5,600 feet of elevation with a pounding headache. When we got back to the lower trailhead, I definitely hugged the sign.

So happy.

Clearly two mountain peaks in one weekend was just not enough! After I spent a really exciting Saturday night back in Denver ordering Thai food and going to bed early, I woke up bright and early the next day for a 14er with my friends Amy and Joel. Amy and Joel had never done a 14er before, so I was going along basically to assure them that being out of breath and questioning why you are voluntarily putting yourself through walking up a mountain is a totally normal part of the 14er experience.

“There are no easy 14ers.” That’s my line!

For Amy and Joel’s first 14er, we chose Quandary Peak, which I hiked last summer. The motivation for choosing Quandary was also that we would then be close to lots of places to grab a beer after we finished the hike. I was kind of worried that maybe I would feel Shav/Tab from the day before, but luckily I felt just fine. Amy and Joel were champs too, and we made it up to the summit in good time.

The first of many 14ers for Amy and Joel!

The view was kind of hazy from the top, which was a bummer, but I took Amy and Joel’s Christmas card 2012 photo and witnessed Amy discovering her spirit animal, the pika, so it was still a productive hike. There were definitely some serious discussions about whether or not you could have a pika as a pet among our group.

Google searches that Paula does.

We followed up Quandary Peak with beers and burgers at Dillon Dam Brewery before heading back to Denver. Getting to eat copious amounts of food was definitely the benefit of doing three 14ers in one weekend. I promise you, french fries have never tasted better to me than they did after finishing Quandary Peak, the third 14er of the weekend.

What’s on my agenda for NEXT weekend? Hopefully some mimosas and absolutely no 14ers. See guys? I am human!


Author: paulamahla

Typical Colorado girl that can't make up her mind. Trail running, hiking, climbing, camping, CrossFit, ultimate frisbee, and skiing? E, all of the above.

8 thoughts on “Two days, three mountains

  1. Wow, you are incredible! Looks like fun.

  2. i love this so much. you are a champ!

  3. I’ve had that throbbing dehydration headache…and it sucks! Seriously sucks. I give you credit for going back the next day, even though you knew you’d be hydrated this time. It took me a week or so for the memory of the pain to really go away!

  4. Paula – I want your life. Can I just tag along all the time? I want to do Quandry sooooo badly! Probably not in the cards for me this year though. Also, you are a bad@ss – 3 14ers is nutso! (And Dillon Dam is pretty damn good post-any hike. We ate there after our 20 mile weekend and i inHALED some nachos)

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