Peak(s):  Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,001 feet
Date Posted:  09/08/2006
Date Climbed:   09/03/2006
Author:  TalusMonkey
 Redcloud and Sunshine - Silver Creek TH  

Date: Sunday, September 3, 2006
Team: USAKeller and TalusMonkey
Route: Redcloud East Ridge with S. Fork Silver Creek return

Since we had awesome weather the previous day on Uncompahgre, USAKeller and I decided to sleep in on Sunday and start late on Redcloud and Sunshine. We arrived at the Silver Creek TH and got on trail at 0800. The trailhead is at N37deg56m12.7s, W107deg27m39.0s.

The Cinnamon Pass road from Lake City to the Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch TH and restroom is in pretty fair shape. Our 2WD Dodge Cailber had no problems getting there. Last week we made it in a lower clearance Chevy Cobalt. All but the lowest slung 2WD cars should be able to get to the TH with no or minimal dragging, with careful and slow driving.

We followed the heavily travelled and easy to follow trial toward Redcloud. This trail runs about 2 miles through forest to timberline and then curves around to the right into a broad basin northeast of Redcloud Peak. Continue through the high meadow and gradually climb to the saddle at 13,000. From the saddle, follow the trail right and toward Recloud. The trail is obvious and easy to follow, but after a few hundred feet you have two options: follow the switchbacked easier trail right (it switchbacks above), or take a direct line up a steep dirt/scree slope for a few hundred feet. We took the steep dirt route.

USAKeller climbing the steep and loose dirt/scree slope above the saddle:


After reaching the false summit, we continued on the easier grade to summit Redcloud at about 1025. It was sunny, but cool and windy, so we took a short break and a few photos and hurried over toward Sunshine.

USAKeller and TalusMonky on the Redcloud summit with Sunshine in the background. You can see a portion of the easy class 1 trail to Sunshine in the left of the photo:


The trail over to Sunshine is quite easy to find and follow. It is about 1.3 miles to the summit of Sunshine with about 500 more feet of gain. We summited Sunshine about 40 minutes after leaving Redcloud.

USAKeller and TalusMonkey on Sunshine with Uncompahgre (left) and Redcloud (right) behind us. The trail from Redcloud can be seen in the right of the photo:


While on Sunshine, we noticed an interesting halo around the sun. The following photo does not properly capture the halo, but the halo is NOT an optical effect of the camera. It was visible to the naked eye.

Solar halo over Sunshine:


Back in June I had climbed these peaks with Roozers42 and her husband Scott. We descended from Sunshine via the steep scree gully on the west side of the Redcloud/Sunshine saddle. USAKeller and I agreed to descend this way also.

Although a little steep and loose, this gully is frequently used and has switchbacked social trails going down. We quickly reached the talus fields below the scree and quickly made our way along the south fork of Silver Creek drainage. It is certainly much shorter and quicker than returning over Redcloud!

Returning via the scree gully has other rewards, as well. Once you hit timberline along the south fork of Silver Creek, the trail weaves through pretty alpine forest. The trail goes right past an old mining cabin offering great photo opportunities.

USAKeller and TalusMonkey in the doorway of the old cabin:


The trail along the south fork of Silver Creek is easy to follow and crosses Silver Creek to rejoin the main Redcloud trail at N37deg56m53.5s, W107deg26m22.5s. Take a left to return to the Silver Creek TH.

We returned to the trailhead about 6 hours after starting on trail. That included a 45 minute break on the Sunshine summit and about 20 minutes on Redcloud. At the trailhead we met Jamienellis and FromNO2CO back at their car. We visited briefly and then headed back toward Lake City to return to the Front Range.

The weekend weather was perfect for USAKeller to finish up the Lake City 14er group!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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