| Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks via Silver Creek
Participants: cftbq, trishapajean
RT: 11.4 mi.
Vert.: 5,115 ft. (per TOPO!)
Redcloud Pk. and most of the ridge connecting it to Sunshine Pk.
We spent Friday night in Trisha’s refurbished camper near the Sherman townsite, just where the road begins to get really rough. In the morning, we drove the roughly 4 miles up the road to the standard Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch trailhead. Perhaps because these peaks, together with Handies, alone among Colorado’s 14ers, are on BLM land and not in a National Forest, this is one of the nicest and least rule-bound trailheads around. There’s a large parking lot on each side of the road, plus pit toilets. We parked in the lot on the east side of the road, and departed at 5:50 am MST, just about sunrise.
The trail is good and clear all the way, but this is still the San Juans, so there are places—more as you get higher—where the trail is rocky and rough. We were looking for a leisurely hike (having worked our butts off for the last three years to get all the hard 14ers done), and we fully expected a long, sunny day. So, more than one party overtook us even before we got to the northwest ridge. Once above the saddle on the ridge (where the clear trail takes off teasingly for UN 13,832 and UN 13,811..), the route becomes consistently rocky, as well as steep. We took our time.
Accordingly, it took us just over five hours (a figure which has become rather common in our lives) to stroll out onto Redcloud’s summit. We met a couple of parties who were already coming down. Word seemed to have traveled up the mountain with the folks who had passed us that we were closing in on finishing the fourteeners. All the supportive comments we received as a result were very heartening. We met Leslie, from our old haunt of Colorado Springs, who was leading her 13-year-old son on his something-teenth 14er. Good for you, Leslie!
Shortly before we were setting up to take off for Sunshine, Chuck and Dan, both veteran climbers, joined us on the summit. We learned that this was Chuck’s fourth ascent of Redcloud, but had never taken the traverse over to Sunshine. After having vegged out for over half an hour, we took off southward, expecting to see them again.
On the way, we met Jordan and Aleisha (sp?), transplants from New York who had come up via the alternate route on the west side. We had been contemplating going down that way and picking up “Sundog” on the way, but their recommendation was that it was a bad idea. I already knew that that basin was loose, and trailless in places, but I didn’t know how bad it was. That pretty much made up our minds for us.
With stop for conversation, our slow pace continued, and it took us a little over an hour to top out on Sunshine. It has a nifty summit, and, unlike Redcloud, sports a stone windbreak plus an intact register canister. The register, however, was full and hadn’t been replaced, so we supplemented it with some spare paper. A new register would be a good thing for someone to bring up. (Redcloud needs a new canister as well as a register.)
With the weather holding, we spent even longer on our second summit of the day. After that, there isn’t much more to tell, really. We simply re-traced our steps, including re-summitting Redcloud, and finally wandered back to the trailhead more than eleven hours after we had set out. It was a great day. Pictures are at:
as are the pictures from the following day’s climb of Handies, which has its own TR.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):