Peak(s):  PT 13,832  -  13,832 feet
PT 13,811  -  13,811 feet
Sunshine Mtn A  -  13,321 feet
PT 13,093  -  13,093 feet
Date Posted:  09/24/2014
Date Climbed:   09/21/2014
Author:  bergsteigen
 Looking for the Sunshine at the end of the Rainbow  

Day 1: Pt 13,832 & Pt 13,811

Trailhead: Silver Creek
Mileage: 12.3
Elevation Gain: 4,631'
Gurlz: Me, myself and I

With friends bailing because of sickness and for better peaks, I wasn't sure if anyone else was showing up for the Ladies hike. Newbie Ladies don't tend to post at all, or even respond to pm's. So with the horrible (but incredibly incorrect) forecast, I waited around at the appointed meeting point, wondering. Once apparent I was on my own, I ditched the boring plans of yet another repeat on a 14er, to something that is more interesting to me - 13ers! Of course, I had done ZERO research on the nearby peaks lately (everything was at home on my laptop). I knew what I had left were all lengthy days, so I went with the least gnarly. Bonus, I had actually brought the Trails Illustrated map for the region! With screw removal surgery in a week, this was going to be my last weekend in the hills for a bit, so time to throw down and make it worth it!

So after a rapid gear change, since I don't hike solo in garish pink, I was heading up the trail at the rather late hour of 6:50 am. Better hope that 40% chance of storms after noon is on the late side! I was hiking as fast as my body would let me, and somehow I missed how horrible this trail is. I tried to use my graduated ND filter, but I don't think it was strong enough for the morning contrasts to get the colorful leaves in darkness with Handies in bright light. Further up, the tundra has started to turn colors and was a nice morning view.

Handies with early light

Handies and the changing tundra

Once up at the saddle with Redcloud, I turn left and continue in the other direction from the other hikers I had been catching up to. Take that conservative ortho doc! While there is a pretty decent trail to use for these peaks, the trail doesn't actually go to the "summit". So it would seem humans just expanded upon the existing game trails in the area. So remember that, when it's time to summit - leave the trail! Don't keep blindly following the herd...


Route to the first Centennial

Nearing the first summit

Pretty good views from the summit, even the slightly disheartening one of the next peak, looking soooo far away. Glad for the GPS to tell me the distance. My 13er ridge running visual distance meter is obviously rusty!

A look back at Redcloud and Sunshine

The steeper north side of the peaks

Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre

On the way down the east ridge, I spot another *gasp* human on the trail below! Wow, that's unexpected. A bit too far away to converse much, so hope he was having a good day!

Once around the bump on the ridge, it was another fairly easy tundra ascent to the last Centennial. The trail becomes faint once again, as you need to summit. So just go up!

Nearing the second Centennial

Looking back across the rugged north side

Sat for a short bit on the summit enjoying the views and all the leafy color surrounding me. Not used to the oranges and the reds on the Aspens! It's comes closer to the color I'm used to from the Adirondaks and WNY, but not exactly. The deep reds are still missing.

San Luis group with leafy color in front

Another Centennial to do, sometime

Sneffels in the distance

The long route home...

Once back at the Redcloud saddle, it was all downhill on craptastic scree trail. The clouds were slowly building into something menacing, but I would be well below before they got too angry. Though 2 guys were still going up! All the way down on this horrid scree trail, I kept dreaming of a scree zamboni! Push all that horrid crap out of the way. With 2 miles left to go on the trail, and almost to the trees, my legs began to question picking up that gauntlet this morning. But a rumble in the clouds above gave me the needed motivation to get downhill before any rain had started. Forecast was 3 hours late, but I'm good with that. The sun even came back out while I was relaxing at the trailhead after a long 8 hour day on the trail!

Day 1: Sunshine Mountain A & Pt 13,039

Trailhead: Last switchback on road past Wetterhorn (high clearance 4WD)
Mileage: 6
Elevation Gain: 2,639'
Partner: Solo, with guest appearances by 3 other 13er hikers on the summit of 13,093

I wake up along the road to Engineer Pass to the pitter patter of rain hitting my topper shell on my truck. So I go back to sleep, ignoring my alarm. Doubtful hiking today! I comfortably slumber until it gets light out, and then the rain magically stops. So I decide that maybe I will just do some leaf photography instead of picking up the orphan 13er near Cinnamon Pass I have. I didn't exactly like what I saw from the road, and I hadn't looked at my beta shots beforehand (since I didn't realize I might do this peak). So I lackidasically drive around, pulling over, taking photos, hiking down to the waterfall overlook in my pj's. Off-roaders are not up yet, and hunters are already deployed, so I have the place to myself.

I decide that I'll drive up to the end of the road past Wetterhorn, since I had never done that before. See what kind of views of leaves I would get. Once up there, I take a good look at the sky, and notice that Uncompahgre is out of the clouds. Hmmm, the clouds are lifting, it hasn't rained since 6:30am or so, maybe a short hike could happen. I do have the nearby 13ers to do, some look really close to me on my map. What if I just hike up to treeline and decide then if I should go further?

Fog wisp in the valley

Waterfall along Engineer Pass road

Fog lifting

Snow topped peaks with some color

Fog and color

Uncompahgre looking icy

So I change out of my pj's into my hiking kit, and start up the misty trail. We'll just see how far we get before it start raining again. Forecast calls for rain and gloom aaaaaaallllll day long. This must be a short reprieve. In a meadow, I hear a now familiar sound of yet another waterfall. So I leave the trail to explore a nice view. Too bad the mist was rising up from the lower valley to envelop me, just as I got to the nice view of the waterfall.

Hmmm... should I continue up a bit further? Maybe the fog will be gone by the time I reach treeline, get a better view of the area. So I leave the waterfall and start up the slope through a nice forest with lots of game trails to follow for a time.

Fog rising in the valley

A misty morning waterfall

I get up to treeline and I see the spectacular Uncompaghre looking icy and misty, well worth the effort to hike up this far. But do I continue? The clouds don't look that scary right now. There's even blue sky peaking out. Maybe just a little bit further...

Fog and an icy Uncompahgre

Pt 13093

Gentle grassy slope up Sunshine Mtn

As I get within a short distance of the summit of Sunshine Mountain, the sun starts to show itself! The clouds are continuing to break apart, weather is improving as time goes on. Guess I will make these 2 summits today!

Fog coming up from the Engineer Pass road side obscure my views of Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre, but the rest of my view is mostly unhindered. Even Handies peaks out to show it's white flanks.

The sun will come out, on the summit!

Foggy view of Wetterhorn

Window into the fog of Uncompahgre

Handies looks very snowy!

I almost have to tear myself away from the summit, I only thought I would have to tag, before descending. I really wanted the shots of the nearby 14ers. But the weather could change, and I'd rather not be high up if it does! So onto the next peak!

13093 bathed in sunshine!

Looking back on a sunny Sunshine Peak

Route up Pt 13093

Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre with lifting clouds

The last tenth of a mile to 13093 was a bit of a steep loose dinner plate talus ascent, but at least it was short! On my way up, I look down into the valley to see a white animal. Hmmm a goat? That low? Then I see it's human, and a couple more. And they're coming right for me!?!!! Huh? Who else other than 13er hikers would beeline it for Pt 13,093 other than other weird types like me? And when they joined me on the summit, it turns out they are fellow 13er (and *gasp* 12er) hikers! Well met! Nice to chat with others on a solo day. I do enjoy my solitude, but to have it punctuated from time to time with other fellow enthusiasts is always nice.

Handies and American looking white.

Redcloud and Sunshine with a dusting of snow

Looking back on the route from Sunshine Mtn

Some nearby 13ers and 12ers that look interesting

Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre from my sun drenched summit

I had to tear myself away from this final summit. All I had to look forward to was a scree descent back to the valley below, a nice waterfall and then the looong drive home. So I lingered a bit longer on the summit alone. Then down below in the upper meadow. Since this view was much better than the one I have 5 days a week in my office (not quite special enough to get a window office). Then I mosey on down to the waterfall, and hang out for another half hour. Why not put off a long drive for just a bit longer...

Sitting for awhile, just enjoying the view

Colorful waterfall

Some parting leaves on the way out. Look at those orangy-reds!

What a horribly inaccurate forecast for Sunday! 70% chance of rain and thunderstorms "likely" all day long? Haha, very funny weather dude! Glad I stuck around!

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

 Comments or Questions

09/24/2014 19:10
Who needs them? It doesn't surprise me that you out badassed them all. Nice work Otina. Great shots, great write up, and I even learned an interesting new adverb

Oh, and I think I speak for all of us when I say I'd still like to see a shot of that garish pink outfit.


Solo days are fun.
09/24/2014 19:27
Nice pics and narrative as always, Otina.


09/24/2014 20:21
Ya that 13811' feels and looks FOREVER away from 13832! And then you turn around and have to go all the way back!


09/25/2014 13:43
Seriously, I'm impressed at your dedication, your rapid accumulation of peaks makes me feel wimpy. And I like the waterfall shots.


Fall colors!
09/25/2014 15:30
I was glad to see at least the start of the aspens turning before I left CO last week. Nice to see some more! The waterfall shots are especially beautiful! The leg must be getting strong. Thanks for sharing!


Great pics!
09/26/2014 20:49
Hey Otina,

Stellar write-up as usual and great pics! Also much appreciate the beta as I am going after both of the UN Centennials for the fall gathering.

Glad to see you are on the mend and back on the high peaks.



Thanks everyone
10/01/2014 17:50
Jay - Solo is usually easiest!

Mike - Not I! Always looking to increase vocabulary You know how I feel about selfies! But maybe if I'm especially drugged up after my surgery... though I'm not sure how I'd get into part of the outfit if I was drugged! Those pink hair extensions were tricky!

geojed - I was seriously sad that it looked so far away! Glad that the actual traverse didn't take that long.

SoCool - Life is better outside than on a couch! All these waterfalls makes me wonder if I should carry my tripod.

Nat - Lists and partners - peak complications, I know, it's the life we lead. Hopefully soon I can carry a rope! Maybe I'll start with a small one.

MtnHub - I'll be sad to miss this weekend's peak color, but the contrast with the green leaves is also quite pretty as well. The leg feels good and my PT says the bone should be pretty strong by now. Yay for progress!

Ryan - Glad it happened to be so timely! It may have been what I would have done at the Gathering, if I could go. Enjoy!


10/02/2014 20:38
Great to read that you're back doing what you love!! The waterfall pictures are beautiful!! Print your report for your ortho's good for them!!


Your pics are great!!!
10/04/2014 05:42
So I have to ask, what's the secret to your beautiful photos? Camera? Photographer? Thanks.


10/06/2014 21:47
barbiesue53 - Thanks! It's great to be back. I think my ortho doc finally ”got it” eventually. At least my PT figured out quickly that holding back might be an issue for me!

Adventuregal - I have a Canon EOS-M camera, the newer mirrorless DSLR. My grandfather was a pro who worked for Kodak and for himself, so I was taught how to use SLR's and manual cameras as a kid.


04/02/2015 19:45
I couldn't join you. Darn lists and partner cancelations on my end. I hope to make it up to you though, by carrying ropes maybe? ;) Fall colors look beautiful and the shot of the waterfall is amazing!

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