Peak(s):  Sunshine Peak  -  14,001 feet
Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
Date Posted:  09/29/2018
Date Climbed:   09/28/2018
Author:  HikesInGeologicTime
 Buy two summits, get the third free!   

This is a trip report in part because I am apparently incapable of short-form writing and also because, as far as conditions go, nothing I have to say will likely be valid as of tomorrow, if weather forecasts are anything to go by. As you'll be able to tell from the pictures, any snow that came through in previous days had vanished without a trace by the time I arrived. Which was good, because despite nagging myself about it for much of my drive from Denver, I nonetheless managed to forget the microspikes in the backseat of my car until over a mile into the hike.

Considering I'm slow to begin with, have spent much of the last month at sea level, and decided to get back into the swing of things with what's billed as a twofer but really has you summiting three times in one day if you go the standard route, I was anticipating a painfully long day.19131_05

I took this after I'd re-summited Redcloud. While it hadn't looked too groan-inducing the first time I stood on the taller peak's summit, I still liked the look of the route to Sunshine much better once it was behind me.

I was pleasantly surprised that I finished in just under nine hours, and while I'm sure part of that is due to having done more than just sit on my butt while I was out east (I averaged 15 miles/day on my bike out there), I think a lot has to do with the fact that this didn't *feel* like a standard-issue Class 2 to me.19131_03

I was also pleasantly...well, you couldn't say "surprised" as I know that this is standard-issue fall fare in Colorado, but those aspens still leave me breathless in a good way every time!

Sure, there was that part of the ridgeline leading up to Redcloud's false summit that a backpacker whose path I crossed described (accurately, imho) as "spooky" in places, but while my vertigo didn't appreciate how close a couple of the switchbacks on it came to the nasty-looking gully it had for a neighbor, I didn't personally find it to be that much harder than, say, the old (2016 and before) trail up Elbert's false summit.

I think if I had tackled that ridge while there was snow/ice on it, there would've been at least a few tears shed; it was pretty steep, and navigating the aforementioned vertigo-inducing switchbacks on the descent when they were perfectly dry elicited a few cries of which, "Are you kidding me?!?" was the most family-friendly. Trekking poles were a necessity for me on this segment, though most of the other hikers I passed had gone without and most likely did just fine.19131_02

Taken after my descent. I really, REALLY liked having that portion in my rearview mirror.

Outside of that section, though, I found this to be a great hike. I had both peaks' summits all to myself when I reached them (including the second time I hit Redcloud's), the aspens made the return to treeline spectacular beyond the usual reasons of indicating that the trailhead must be coming soon, and I got to hear entertaining stories about mountaineering adventures gone wrong from the Scotsman who'd convinced another hiker to accompany him on a shortcut down the gully that dropped off the saddle once I did get back to the parking lot.19131_01

My vertigo and general distaste for scree were glad I'd left Sunshine before I also got talked into descending that gully.

I've done a few of fourteeners (*cough*prettymuchallthesouthernSawatches*cough*) that I was happy to file under "one and DONE." Redcloud and Sunshine, however, are a pair that I'd be happy to re-visit in spite of what I think should be officially named Spooky Ridge. For those who haven't gotten to them yet, these are definitely worth checking off the bucket list!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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