| Almost A Pint of San Juan
As a continuation of the Pint of San Juan, Jason and I arrived at the Grizzly Gulch TH and awaited the 3rd member of our party, Rick, to arrive. We set up camp and barely had the lawn chairs out when Rick arrived about 6pm. He had gotten off early and was able to get on the road sooner than originally planned.
I had forgotten my softshell jacket and used my backup rain jacket on San Luis to insulate from the high winds, but it didn’t have a hood. While lounging around Lake City, I called Rick about the possibility of stopping by my house on the way and picking up my jacket. He, of course, said sure and he delivered it ahead of schedule! Then, he told us that he had forgotten his boots and was going to use his trail shoes, “slippers” as he called them. Seems like something always gets left behind.
Another car rolled into the lot and the driver checked things out for a few minutes and introduced himself to us as Dave. He had come to tackle a few 13ers, had already summited the 14ers and had a lot of experience to share. The three of us were happy to share our camp with him. Dave advised us to leave early so we all decided 4:30am was early enough for a departure.
I hit the sleeping bag at dusk and sawed logs until dreamtime was interrupted by someone looking for someone else and calling out their name at our tents in hopes that a tent would respond. Drifting off again only to be awakened by lights racing across my tent putting on quite a show from the inside. Crawling deeper in my bad seemed to ward off the light and the next thing I know, it’s 3:30am and time to get moving. One would think that my morning ritual would be a work of science by now, after 26 peaks, but, alas, no matter how well I organize the night before, I always manage to take too much time. Couldn’t find my glove liners and ended up wearing the 2nd layer most of the day.
The moon was full and illuminated the way.
We hit the trail at 4:38 am, I think, and the initial rapid incline with vigor. I warned Dave, that I was slow and that he might want to break off from us in order to achieve his climbing goals for the day. After crossing a stream that joined up with the main creek, and nearly around the bend, so to speak, Dave noted the incoming weather and said he had to get going if he was going to make his three 13ers. We wished each other well and he disappeared into the wilderness.
As the dawn arrived, we were hustling up the valley.
We thank Dave (on left) for great conversations the night before and getting us on an alpine start.
Without our guide we began route finding, although it would be hard to lose; however, we did manage to lose it under several snow/ice flows going up the valley. Upon those occasions, we simply took the straightest line up and went that way. Once in awhile, we would get to cross naked ground, but most of the journey in the valley up to the ridge, was a snow field that permitted heavy feet. That was fine by me as I thought ascending via snow was actually easier that ground.
The trail had almost made a 180 degree turn wrapping around Redcloud and our next goal to was to get on the ridgeline ahead.
The snow proved, once again, easy to hike on and we did, but we did not follow the trail. It was quicker to climb the snow and go straight up. We traversed a little, at times, to make it easier.
This looks harder than it was.
Looking back from our trek up to the ridgeline.
We got to the ridge and noted the false summit and kind of proud we didn’t get sucked into thinking we were there yet. When on the ridge and looking at the false summit, which you have to go over, not like San Luis, I couldn’t make out the trail going up and thought it would be the ridge line, which was pretty steep. By the time I got there, I realized that I had been too far away to see a nice trail. Sharon and Heather caught up with us on the ridge and one of them returned a package of shotbloks that I had lost earlier. The final pitch took us between a snow field and the edge of nowhere and at some points, it was a fairly narrow section. It was kind of the girls to lead the way up this tricky appearing ascent. We went down and up again on the ridge and finally got to the true summit pitch which was a sharply pitched talus hugging climb with scree thrown on the solid dirt sections to keep things interesting.
It was steep, but we were traversing and the trail was pretty easy. The girls are leading the way.
We made it to the top in 4 hrs 19 min, but who is worried about time when you’re having this much fun. Sharon and Heather were there and another couple arrived with their dog shortly after our arrival. Pictures were taken, the girls headed for Sunshine and we were just catching our breath.
Rick’s summit photo
Jason’s summit pose
Chris’ wonderful pose with one of the girls.
The route to Sunshine provided for some entertaining moments between a shear drop and a snow field.
Rick was meeting up with the girls for a little route discussion
The final push up to Sunshine..the 1 ½ jaunt over to SS did not look so hard, but I have to say it was fairly brutal, add high winds and it really get
Jason’s summit shot.
We left for the 3 mile roundtrip about 9:10 am, summited Sunshine at 10:30 and took another break. The girls were there and led the group in singing, “You are my sunshine,” which was recorded for future embarrassing situations. The girls did not want to go back over Redcloud and decided to descend right off Sunshine’s peak and into the Silver Creek South Fork which Roach calls a sporting finish. We did not feel that sporting and chose to go back the way we came--over Redcloud, making me wish I had researched that escape route a little better in the planning stage.
Slipper Rick’s summit shot.
Chris’ summit shot. You think we could have taken one with all three of us in it?
Image #17 (not yet uploaded)
As Dave said earlier, the elevation loss and gain between the two 14ers was brutal. It was a tough 3 miles above 13,500 feet. Reminded me of Shav and Tab. We returned to Redcloud nearly 3 hours later, 12:30p, and quickly headed for what would be truly all downhill from there. My camera stopped functioning for some unknown reason and I ran out of water (3.5L), but we didn’t post hole in the snow flows, thankfully, Jason and Rick were kind enough to share their water with me. I was quite surprised that I went through it that fast. The return was just time consuming. Rick had obligations that required him to hasten his trek down and so we parted ways. He managed well, climbing in his “slippers,” but I think he got his feet wet on some of the stream crossings.
When you exit timberline and see the TH, it is a glorious site and the really great thing about it, is that it looks close and is! We returned at 4:19, after 11 hours and 41 minutes of fun…Then there was the 5 ½ hour trip back to Colorado Springs. The girls’ car was gone so we were glad to know that they had made it down from that impromptu departure off Sunshine.
Running out of water bothered me. It happened to me once before and I thought I was carrying enough this time. I noted on the flow meter that I had drank 54 oz so I refilled the bladder and put it back in the backpack that I used. I quickly noticed moisture was forming down by the quick disconnect where the tube plugs into the base of the bladder.
I’m not sure how I would lose 46 oz and not notice, but that is one explanation. Further examination revealed that the bend in the backpack caused leakage from the bottom side of the big cap. It is a new CamelBak. I put it in a plastic bag on the next climb and there was about 4-5 ounces in the bag. Still trying to figure it out.
So ends the Pint of San Juan adventure. Maybe we’ll pour in another pint to make it a cup in a few weeks.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):