| Redcloud & Sunshine
Part 3 of my three-part trip report, "2 of us, 3 days, 4 fourteeners."
Redcloud and Sunshine - Monday, July 3, 2006
Man, it was hard getting up at 3:30 a.m., especially after climbing fourteeners the previous two days. My legs were rejecting my every move and my mind was in a state of delirium. My sleep had been filled with strange dreams and restless REM (usually happens when I sleep at 9k or above). Not to mention, thunder and rain kept waking us up all night long. The rain didn't stop rapping on the cabin's roof until about 2 a.m.
After choking down a bagel with peanut butter, we headed up the Alpine Loop road from Lake City's Second Street. Eventually, we found ourselves driving on a narrow shelf road in pitch-black darkness. That drive woke me up more than any caffeinated beverage could.
About the time my white knuckles regained some color, we pulled into the quiet, crowded parking lot (mostly campers) and set off up the trail at 5 a.m. with our headlamps lighting our way.
With all the rain from the night before (truckloads of it), I expected a muddy trail but it wasn't bad at all. The bushes were another story, though. The dense leaves were like paintbrushes loaded with water and we were like passing canvases. On more than one occasion water made it all the way through my clothes and to my skin.
Somewhere around treeline it became light enough to shut off the headlamps. This is where I began to notice many patches of columbines. This time, however, unlike the previous two days, they were drooping and rain soaked and patiently waiting for the sun.
Up until this point we only came across one other climber (Barry, as I recall ...).
The trail was obvious and easy to follow all the way to the ridge/saddle. Once there, we were greeted by a cool, 20- to 30-mph wind.
From the saddle, we noticed two routes up to Redcloud's summit. One (on the left and close to the edge of the ridge) was steep and loose. The other (which cut right and made a few wide switchbacks) was much less steep but longer. On our way up we took the steep route and on our way down we took the latter route.
Redcloud's summit was all ours at about 8 a.m. A few minutes later we took off toward Sunshine.
The connecting saddle was talus-strewn, but it wasn't bad. The trail (or "trails," I should say, as there were a few braided routes) was easy to follow. A few of the shady sections had some slick – almost icy – rocks, but otherwise it was a fairly easy stroll.
Here's a view from Redcloud toward Sunshine:
Sunshine's ridge was rocky but the rocks were gritty and mostly glued to the mountain. We touched the summit at a quarter 'til 9. For some reason I felt the inclination to sign the register. It was the first register I've ever signed.
Here's a view from Sunshine toward Redcloud:
Huffed it back to Redcloud and made it to its summit for the second time at 9:40. Then we cruised back down the ridge, saying hello to many climbers that were on their way up.
Here's a pic looking down toward the ridge, with climbers marching up:
Finally made it back to the trailhead at 11:30 a.m. At that time, mean clouds threatened the summit. Here's a pic of the sky (and happy, dried-out columbines):
On the drive back to Lake City we encountered quite a bit of rain and some light hail, with lightning flickering in the distance.
Made it back to Texas – er, I mean, "Lake City" – and took a nosedive into the bed. Slept hard. The kind of sleep where when you wake up later you have no idea where you are or who you are.
After finally waking up from my coma, I ate a couple pieces of dark chocolate and then reached for a beer. It was a great weekend.
In three days we had climbed 11,000 feet ... a new best for us.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):