Tuesday, July 20, 2010

14er Report - Redcloud Peak

14er Report
Mon, July 19/10
Redcloud Peak (14,034 ft)
Sunshine Peak (14,001 ft)
Redcloud Peak (14,034 ft)

When I decided to go to Southern Colorado (Silverton) for the weekend to run the Kendall Mtn Marathon I figured that I might as well stay on after the race to run a few 14ers in the San Juan Mtns.
I have climbed most of the 14ers within a 90-min drive of home and now must travel and stay over 1 or 2 nights to climb ‘new’ 14ers. This represented such an opportunity!

Once I confirmed that the race would indeed take place on Sat I hoped to run one 14er –Handies Peak – on Sun after the race. However in spite of my trusty and normally reliable 14er guide and directions from locals at the hotel I was unable to find the Grouse Gulch Trailhead that was supposedly only 12 miles from Silverton. I actually think I found it but it is not commonly used and had no signs or markings and I was not willing to risk venturing off into the wilderness of the San Juan Mtns w/o confirming I was on the proper trail and heading for the proper destination. So I bagged the hike and instead drove around the San Juan Mtns to Lake City on the East side of the mtns. I could have driven over a 4X4 pass but they scare the crap out of me – I would rather run over those roads/passes than drive!

The access and trailheads are much better from Lake City but to make sure I didn’t experience the same problem and disappointment I checked into the tourist center where they provided me with detailed maps and directions to the trailhead. I woke early on Mon with a plan to drive to the Silver Creek-Grizzly Gulch Trailhead located about 20 miles southwest of Lake City and to climb two 14ers. It required a bone-jarring ride over 10 miles of rough 4X4 roads but I arrived at the trailhead at 7:30am. The trailhead is located at 10,400 ft and provides access to two 14ers – Redcloud Peak and Sunshine Peak.
I set out on a nice soft dirt trail through a pine forest. After hiking for more than 1 hr and still not seeing my destinations I started to wonder if I was on the right trail. I took out the trail directions and noted that it was a 3-mile hike into a basin before you actually could see Redcloud Peak. Finally I reached the basin and could see Redcloud –or what turned out to be a false peak. After another hour of climbing I reached the summit of the false peak and could see the ‘real’ summit of Redcloud Peak. And I could see a group of 10 hikers approaching the summit. At 10:30 am I reached the summit (14,034 ft) and was rewarded with spectacular 360 degree views of the San Juan Mtns.

I could see Sunshine Peak about 2 ½ miles to the south and decided to strike out for my 2nd 14er. I hiked with a local woman down into the 13,500 ft saddle between Redcloud and Sunshine but the weather started to look ‘iffy’ and she turned back. Maddog was too close to give up so I continued on a reached the summit of Sunshine peak (14,001 ft) at 11:40. I took a few photos and headed back. I had to retrace my route to get back to the trailhead and car and that meant climbing Redcloud a 2nd time. I was trying to push the pace to beat the bad weather on the horizon and I was quite pleased that I was able to charge back up Redcloud w/o any rest stops. I caught up with a few hikers that had been descending Sunshine when I was climbing it so I really was pushing a good steady pace. I planned to enjoy a short lunch on the summit of Redcloud Peak but when we reached the summit we were greeted with dark clouds and pea-size hail. Fortunately there was no thunder or lightning but new all decided to take a few quick photos and get the Hell off the mountain before the weather got worse! We rushed down the steep section of Redcloud and when we reached the basin I was able to run (term used loosely) the final 3 miles back to the trailhead.
Although I actually climbed three 14ers I can only count or add two to my list. I have now completed 26 of Colorado’s 54 - 14ers! I figured the hike was about 17 miles and the total time was 6:51 so I was pleased with the day. I was exhausted – again- and the long 4-hr drive back home was difficult. I slept 10 hrs last night and am still tired so am taking a rest day. I plan to climb a few more 14ers in the local area during the next few weeks to maintain my high-altitude acclimation in preparation for Pike’s Peak.

Stay tuned!

1 comment:

zbsports said...

Good report...looking forward for more run update...:D