| A civilized loop - with a bit o spice!
Redcloud, Sunshine and "Sundog"
3's Company: Josh, Karen & me
TH: Silver Creek
Elevation gain: 4,500'
Time: 8.5 hrs
Day 1: Wetterhorn (Matterhorn, Uncompaghre)
Day 2: Redcloud, Sunshine, "Sundog"
My "Mission Impossible Theme" alarm went off at 3am. I didn't want to hear it, so I hit snooze. It went off again, I didn't see headlamps in the other tent, so I hit snooze once again. After a bit, I take out my earplugs, and what do I hear.... rain. Gah, no wonder there's no one else is up. Apparently it had rained pretty hard overnight, and I thankfully had missed it. My second pair of boots, that I was going to wear that day, didn't miss the rain. They knew ALL about the rain. Oh well, that's why you bring 2 pairs.
We cruised up the first part of the trail. Once we got out of the trees, we turned around and got a nice view of Handies Peak:
We made note of the remains of a large snow avalanche zone that covers the creek. Just above that, is where the old Sunshine trail connects. If all goes according to plan, that's where we'll connect the loop.
A little later, a nice sunrise, lighting up the clouds over Handies:
Zooming up the ridge, and our first view of Redcloud Peak:
Nearing the first summit of the day, we stop to apply sunscreen and listen to some motivational music, "I'm on a boat". Now if there was only a peak named boat...
Shortly we were on top of Redcloud. Looking over at our previous days' trip, we note how far away Wetterhorn looks from Uncompahgre...
Our next peak, Sunshine:
The 3rd peak of the day, "Sundog". No escape off Sundog‘s ridge on this side!:
Close up of Uncompahgre:
Close up of the Horns:
Some flowers amongst the rubble, uhh talus:
On Sunshine, looking back at Redcloud:
2 down, 1 more to go!
On to Sundog, and the best part of the entire trip!:
For anyone wanting some route finding experience on class 2+ with some exposure on a narrow ridge, Sundog is an awesome place to go and complete the loop. It was easily the extra spice this trip needed. There are even some areas of faint trail visible, so it‘s isn‘t that difficult to find you way. Just stay on the ridge.
The first section of ridge obstacles, you can easily skirt around, if you want:
After that, it becomes a bit difficult to skirt, so we did some 2+ over this next section:
As we continued up the ridge, it was more fun to go over a lot of the obstacles than contour around. So choose your own adventure!
Josh making his way up a fun section:
Looking back over at Sunshine, with Karen making her way up the ridge.
Josh posing on the false summit:
With a fast approaching storm, I didn't take too many photos on the summit. And a group shot of us will have to wait until Josh can send me his photos, as he's on Handies Peak today.
Making a speedy descent:
Looking back up at Sundog, further down the ridge, not near "safety" yet:
Once below treeline, we were going to try and follow the ridge down to the Silver Creek, possibly cutting off a bit of distance. But when lightning struck near us, we all made the same decision. Down! So we dropped off the ridge to the stream drainage where the Sunshine trail is. Soon as we reach the stream, the sky lets loose, and we put on our rain kit.
A nice gushing stream:
A little bit into the trees on the lower trail, we get one last parting short of Handies, to send us on our way home:
Overall, I found the addition of Sundog to be well worth the effort (vs going back over Redcloud). In fact, it was so much fun, I was sorry we had to race over it!
Now to make that long drive home.... dreaming of when I can return and climb all the peaks I‘ve had to put off for another day.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):