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 Peak(s):  Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
 Post Date:  07/23/2007
 Date Climbed:   07/20/2007
 Posted By:  KeithK

 Double Play Denied! No summits for me...   

Disclaimer: I normally wouldn't write about a failed attempt, but this trip was too cool and way too enjoyable for me to ignore even an "unsuccessful hike" if there is such a thing...
Originally planning a trip through Yellowstone this past spring, I determined that it would be cheaper and equally as satisfying for me to stay closer to home and explore a part of Colorado that I really have never paid attention to. So, I mapped out an itinerary for the San Juans, to include all of the "easy" class 2 peaks in the Lake City area. San Luis will have to wait until another day. I departed Thursday from Denver, en route to Rifle as my pup would be spending his summer vacation at Grandpa's house. Thankfully, the drive down to Montrose is rather quick from there, as it was 98 degrees as I passed through town! At least it's a dry heat... Even through the hazy afternoon, Mt. Sneffels looms impressive to the south. The drive east on 50 past Blue Mesa Reservoir is very pleasant, as is the final stretch into Lake City. Making straight for the trailhead, it was not long before I was on Sunshine Peak's southern shoulder, on the single lane shelf road, that is.



I found a reasonably private spot to park right next to the trailhead, and snapped some pics of the already magnificent scenery.




Hitting the sack at 8:00, I was sure I would have plenty of strength for the anticipated double-play on Friday morning. Of course, at 4 a.m., the alarm alerted me that it was very dark outside, and I couldn't possibly need to get started this early. 5 a.m. still brought darkness, but I eventually roused myself to begin to gear up and hit the trail. Shortly after 6, I was on my way up the immediately steep Redcloud trail.

Redcloud Peak through the trees...


The trail was good through the trees, and I marvelled at Silver Creek. It is easy to understand the creek's namesake, as it is the most clear, silver water I've ever seen.






Once out of the trees, the trail continues to closely follow the creek through several rockslides and finally climbs into the basin north of Redcloud.

Looking back down the gulch from the basin...


Redcloud still plenty far away...


It was about here that I began to realize just how long this hike is. To reach the summit of Redcloud, you must circle the mountain to the north, and then gain the saddle below the northeast ridge. I sat down to comtemplate my lack of energy, as it was only 9 a.m. and dark clouds were beginning to build from all directions. I pressed on, gulping water and trying to psyche myself up for the remaining climb.

Getting closer...


Gaining the saddle. Hikers can be seen on the trail, as it switchbacks up the steep slope to the upper ridge...


On the saddle, looking up at the ridge...


I kept my eye on the sky, as it was darkening rapidly, and I could feel that I would not have enough steam to get to Sunshine's summit, even if I did muscle up to Redcloud. I still made my way to the end of the first switchback. Then, meeting a very nice lady on her way down, who had also just turned around before the summit, I felt comfortable with my decision to follow her back down the mountain. I just did not have the energy on this day, and it was only 10:00 and getting very dark. Besides, it's only Friday, and I still have 2 more days of hiking ahead of me. And I find no shame in getting in 7+ miles of hiking, summit or not. Guess I'll have to come back another day for the twin killing; can you think of a better area to return to?

Taking my time to descend, I still had to appreciate the surroundings.

South from the saddle...


Looking out across the Silver Creek basin...



Wildflowers along the trail...


Tomorrow's quest. Grizzly Gulch sure looks steep from here!


Columbines never get boring to me...


Arriving back at the truck at 1, I was looking forward to just relaxing all afternoon. Then the rains came! I sure was glad that I was dry and warm, and I slept the day away...

Next up: Handies Peak

 


  • Comments or Questions (1)
Greenhouseguy


Nice     2010-11-30 10:20:13
Nice scenery - it looks pretty pristine up there. Your good luck with the weather this season was bound to end eventually. I'd take getting chased off of a mountain by a storm over burning my retinas out on a computer monitor any day.



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