Continuation from Redcloud Peak summit
Saturday September 22, 2007
My morning ascent of Redcloud Peak had gone pretty well; I started up from Silver Creek TH at 6:46AM and had reached the summit at 9:38, leaving plenty of time to proceed on to Sunshine Peak. The weather was ideal, mostly sunny with a breeze to keep things cool yet very comfortable; I felt good, had enough food & water and didn’t see any reason not to go as it was my intent all along anyway. I love it when a plan comes together!!
About 30 seconds after I reached the empty summit of Redcloud a young guy named John (Broomfield, Co. age 30) arrived and we then decided to hike together over to Sunshine Peak. On the way up I had passed John and he had passed me and then I passed him again as he was taking a lot of photos along the way. Anyway.............we each had about the same gait and certainly had the same goal in mind and it was more enjoyable than going solo. At 9:55 we began across the clearly visible ridge and saddle connecting the two peaks.
John and I had noted that there was another person who had signed the registry before us and we presumed that this person may be somewhere ahead of us yet we hadn’t seen anyone. No sooner did we start the initial descent along the ridge did we see this other person emerge around the trail in the distance heading towards us. We soon met this young gal and she greeted us with a smile as we exchanged pleasantries and she said that she was very tired; she was quite tall and appeared to be in terrific shape.
The trek across the ridge/saddle to Sunshine Peak proceeds predictably up and down over the ridge and then reaches a lowest point at a small saddle before it then begins up a very rocky, “stumbly” trail where you must pay good attention to keep from turning an ankle or worse. We had no problems and finding the way was not an issue. I had noticed another hiker approaching Sunshine from the west earlier and we now met this person as we began our ascent and he was coming down towards us after having been at the summit. This guy couldn’t really seem to tell us where he had come from or where he was going and he didn’t seem to care one way or the other; a bit odd perhaps but so be it.
John had a GPS with him and occasionally sounded-out our altitude reading and rather precisely how much higher we had to go; “89 more feet to go” was the last reading he proclaimed just prior to us reaching the empty summit at 10:54AM. I found this approach to be quite interesting as I always looked more at the “flat-landers/dead reckoning” theme of time and distance rather than altitude lost or gained. Kinda neat and certainly more hi-tech/scientific and fun!
The views were wonderful and looking back towards Redcloud we could see a lot more people coming-and-going from that peak and an array of trails all leading to the same place. We took some photos although my batteries quit after a few shots, had a good rest, some food & drink and stayed about 11 minutes all together. The day continued to be stellar and other than the occasional hat-grabbing gust of wind it was nearly perfect as more scattered clouds were now moving in from the southwest as we started back across from whence we came.
Never alone on a weekend 14’er; we saw two groups of people on our way back to Redcloud and another solo on top as we arrived right at noon. We only paused briefly for a quick rest and some food & drink before heading back down the same way we had climbed that morning. Been there-done that.......
Saw more people heading down and some CFI (Colorado 14'er Initiative)/Western State College volunteers working on the trail some.
John was a great conversationalist and climbing partner as we covered the route down without incident and discussed anything from previous peaks to sports to critters to etc. etc..........you get the picture; never clinging to any one subject for too long. This made the “grind” down much more enjoyable for me and made the time pass quickly. “150 more feet down” stated John, just as we reached the registry and signed-out; then on to the TH parking lot at 2:15 sharp. John’s 32nd (I think) and my 34th 14’er on this marvelous day in the San Juan’s of Colorado..........way sweet!!