4,800' Elevation gain
Our grand finale proved to test our perseverance. An early wake up call had us to the trailhead at 5:00 am with headlamps on. We probably started the day earlier than necessary, but there is something special about being the first ones on the summit for the day. My captions for the pictures and description might make it sound like this was a negative experience - it really wasn't. This is the San Juans - it is beautiful, the views are breathtaking and the hiking is relatively straightforward. We returned back over Redcloud - regaining the summit was grueling, but I think it was the correct decision. When we descended from the summit of Sunshine we met a group that intended to descend the West ridge. This probably saved them a lot of mileage but took longer. We hung around the trailhead for quite awhile and never saw them.
All smiles early on - but check back with us in a couple hours!
Making our way through the basin was probably the low point for all of us. We were in the shadows, it was cold, we were looking at the same headwall that didn't seem to get any closer, wah, wah, wah...
The basin that never seems to end
We finally reach the 13,000' saddle and the sunshine. Only the sun was not providing any warmth and the wind was howling. My thinking had been - if we can just make it to where the sun is shining we will all feel much better. Wrong! But at least we can now see the summit. The route description says zig-zag up the "easy" slope to the saddle. In hindsight, it probably was an easy slope. But it sure didn't feel like it at the time!
First look at Redcould summit
View of the saddle and obvious trail
It is difficult to remain in a bad mood when surrounded by the San Juans
Very neat to have views of previously climbed Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn
Hello again Handies
We made the summit of Redcloud feeling exhausted, a little cranky and suffering from various aches and pains.
Kind of sums up how we all felt on the Redcloud summit
But we collected ourselves and managed to find the spirit to goof around a bit
Hope I don't land on Uncompahgre!
Nebraska hikers from Wetterhorn summit making their way up the Northeast ridge to Redcloud
We still felt miserable and considered ending the day right there. But the group thought process went something like this - I am never going to climb this (insert expletive of choice) mountain again, so if we are checking Sunshine off the list it is now or never. Plus - look how close it appears? I think it took us 2-1/2 hours peak-to-peak-to-peak.
On the way over to Sunshine the rocks were still glazed with some ice. Care had to be taken. By the time we returned the trail was totally dry.
Typical terrain between Redcloud and Sunshine (photo taken on return)
Each of us lugged up a bottle of Sunshine to celebrate with on the summit. Only it was far too cold so we snapped a picture and packed the bottles away for later enjoyment.
Toasting with Sunshines on Sunshine
Descending off Redcloud heading back to trailhead
Now this is more like it! It is amazing how quickly you can forget the difficulties of the ascent when you are heading back down.
Much easier to enjoy the Sunshine at 12,200' - all smiles once again!
Back at the trailhead
This felt really really good!
Our home for the five nights in Lake City. Great place, new, clean, easy to do business with plus WIFI to keep up with 14ers.com
Backcountry Basecamp in Lake City was a great place to stay - Thank you Ben!
The Depot, can't say enough about the place. Some wicked games of foosball were waged and keeping with the theme of the day we emerged victorious with the Sunshine sign - Thank You!
The Depot - a great place to party!
Thanks for the Sunshine sign! Double or nothing next year? We have our eye on the Fat Tire sign.
This was a truly remarkable trip. We enjoyed everything about the town of Lake City and the surrounding peaks. Unfortunately this was the last day and our return to the flatlands was necessary. But, the planning process for the next trip has already begun!