Peak(s):  Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
Date Posted:  08/06/2018
Date Climbed:   08/03/2018
Author:  cnlevan
 Just Redcloud   

This report is to be a detailed report about the trail and the adventure. This is was my first "solo" climb! I hope you enjoy.

I got into Lake City on Thursday night at about 5pm and set up camp at Mill Creek Campground (highly recommended, I've stayed there multiple times). I wanted to hang out and watch the sun go down behind the mountains, but the rain had other plans, so I just called it an early night, and escaped the rain.

I woke up around 3:40 and made it to the trailhead around 4:40. Since this is my first solo climb, and I had a dog to take care of, I probably could have moved faster to the TH, but I didn't want to miss any steps. The trailhead is named "Silver Creek Trailhead" and it only vaguely mentions Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks, just a heads up.

I started hiking at 5:00am. It was still dark, so the headlamp was helpful :) We hiked at a steady gradual incline through the woods for about an hour. (Don't forget to sign the trail registry! Its at the top of one of the hills that had steps cut into it with logs.) I came out of the dense wooded area at about 5:50 and it was about dusk, so I ditched the headlamp.


At this point we continue gradually upwards through the lower basin area next to Silver Creek. The trail went from rocky to solid trail in patches and hiking along the water (still below tree line) was really soothing.


At about 6:45 I came upon this pile of logs. I took this as the marker for timberline, as well as the start of the basin.


I hiked through the green beautiful basin on a steady inclined, well maintained trail and the trail veered off to the right

Looking back on the trail.

During the lower portion of this hike there were a few small stream crossings, but nothing to warrant feet getting wet.

The trail passes this "pond" on its way toward the upper basin.

Looking back on the trail.

During this portion of the hike you will encounter 2 more piles of logs. I reached the 3rd pile at 7:20am.


After the 3rd log-marker, the trail really starts to notch up the incline as you steadily climb up and out of the basin to the rim.


View inside the upper basin, the camera doesnt do the colors justice.

I reached the rim at 8:00. It was a beautiful view on the opposite side of the basin, but on the ridge is when the cold started to hit.

The trail continues along the ridge line for about 100 yards before the switchbacks start.


Follow the trail signs pointing you to the right, not the partial trail heading straight up. The trail switchbacks through the boulder/talus for a good while.


There is a point during the switchbacks that the trail just seems to completely end. At this point, turn right and head up the scree section, there is a vague inkling of a trail there and if you keep heading up, you will eventually meet up with the formal trail.

The top of this section is the false summit.

During this entire time, I started to really slow down, (this is really where the elevation starts to get ya!) Sometimes taking only 25 steps and having to catch my breath. Unfortunately, the cloud cover was increasing and getting darker and darker over the summit and neighboring peaks, so I knew I had to keep up the pace as much as possible. I prayed that the rain would just hold off until I could summit, and I promised that I would only stay on the summit for a quick picture if the rain would just hold off till I made it.

Caption Here

Well of course, there is the dang false summit. You know it is there the whole time you are heading up the switchbacks because the actual summit is over to your left. But that does not change the fact that by the time you actually make it to the top of the talus/boulder/switchbacks, you feel like you should be done...BUT YOU ARE NOT DONE! haha

Final summit on left, false summit on right.

There, left standing before you is the beautiful, red, zig-zag final push to the summit.

Caption Here

At this point I was convinced that I might not make it to the top without the rain starting, but I absolutely would not make it this far up the peak without summiting. (Also, since it was still early-ish in the morning, I was pretty convinced the rain would just be rain and not lightning and thunder, but I still did not want to be on the top of the mountain, slogged in.) So I pushed onward, just willing the rain drops to stay in their clouds until I made it to the top. And up and up I went, till finally, I made it!!! NO RAIN! 9:20am summit.

On top of Redcloud with Sunshine Peak in the background.


I gave my dog some water and a few bites of food, put on my third layer, and prepared to take a quick summit selfie with my Which Wich bag, when a fellow hiker summited and kindly took my summit photo for me. At this point I was not willing to risk heading onward to Sunshine because those clouds were very ominous looking and alas...the rain had started. So I said goodbye to the nice fellow hiker guy (who decided he would try and hurry over to the Sunshine summit) and I got the heck off of that summit.

As quickly as we could safely head down, my dog and I trekked back down off the top, but the rain was falling hard, and I was freezing. I just would not relent, to put on more layers or anything until I got all the way off of the switchbacks and below the rim. And though the rain did not relent, getting below the rim took away a significant amount of the cold away! Still wanting to get as far away from the summit as possible in the rain, I was able to pick up the pace and jog/hike down the trail. The rain finally subsided (except on the summit, so I really hope that dude made it out okay!) and I had a pleasant hike down! I did pass some brave hikers in ponchos heading up when I was in the basin, so I hope the rain cleared for them too!


The decent felt 3x longer than the ascent did, which for me is uncommon, and below the basin, I once again had the trail completely to myself. I was able to take in some more wildflowers I did not note on the climb up, and I got to see the beautiful forested area I climbed up through in the dark.


I finally reached the trailhead at 12:20pm making that a 7 1/2 hour climb. But as it is 9 miles round trip, I am not to bummed at how long it took me. I am a slow climber...but I still made it!

Notes: -> I had the trail almost completely to myself on the entire ascent. I did not pass anyone, nor did anyone pass me until I met that guy on the summit. -> I am so happy I submitted because I saw many little ant sized people have to turn around when they saw the rain slogged summit, but I couldn't have helped thinking "If they just started a half hour earlier, they probably could have beat the rain!" So that is good food for thought.

All in all I thought it was a wonderful first "solo" 14er experience, the hike was beautiful, the solitude was great, the views were stunning and the gratification is sweet! It was also extra special for me because this was my first 14er hike where I was not 80 pounds overweight. I am so happy that I have more freedom to go and do and I can't wait to do more!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

Great Report
08/06/2018 07:33
Very helpful report, I'm heading up there in Sept and will reference this. Great job soloing, people don't realize it's harder when you're alone with just your thoughts and no one to push you on, especially when you hit the wall.


Hiking in the rain...
08/07/2018 12:58
is kind of a bummer, but it's also a different take
on the hiking experience (as is hiking solo; congrats
on your first one). Nice report and pics.

Lucas Pattie

day before me
08/08/2018 19:19
Well done on getting to the top. I actually climbed Redcloud the day after you (8-4). I think I was more fortunate on weather though, as it was very nice my entire ascent and descent. But even so, when I returned to the trailhead at 11:15 am that day, some rain clouds were rolling in from the west - as tends to happen so routinely around that time of day in our high mountains. The day you climbed it (8-3), I was just hanging around in Lake City, where it was largely cloudy overhead for much of the day if I recall. I was walking around town with a group from the history museum on a historical house tour, when it looked like it was about to rain, but it didn't really materialize. I guess it did for you on the peaks though. I much enjoyed your pictures.


Hiking Next Weekend
08/11/2018 15:53
Thanks for posting about your trip. Hiking a 14er alone is not an easy task. I am planning on climbing both Redcloud and Sunshine next weekend. How did your dog hold up with the hike? I'm considering taking my dog who is used to long day hikes, I'm just worried the rocks and scree will tear up her paws.


08/12/2018 04:28
My dog did great! It was her first fourteener and she loved it. I checked her paws throughout and they were fine. The top switchback section is more talus/big rocks than scree so there really was nothing that messed with her paws.

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