Mountaineering – San Juan Peak Bagging Extravaganza, Day 3

Day 3 of SJPBE did not start out very well. It was raining at 4:30am. So we slowly got things ready while it was raining. We were not excited about hiking in the rain. Finally, around 6am, it cleared up a little and became just a slight sprinkle.

Good enough! We charged down the road; two girls on a mission. We had no idea how our day would go, we just knew it would be a good day!

Summit of Redcloud Peak (14,034 ft) Erin All Fired Up on Redcloud Peak (14,034 ft)
Clare and Erin all fired up on Redcloud!

Erin and Clare Walking on Sunshine (14,001 ft)
We’re Walking on Sunshine…Yeaaaaah!

Clare on Summit of Pt 13,832
On Summit of Pt. 13,832 (A Centennial) with Sunshine and Redcloud behind me.

Redcloud, Sunshine, Pt 13,832 Topo Map
Map of Approximate Route

Redcloud, Sunshine, and Pt 13,832 Elevation Profile
Elevation Profile showing 15 miles total with 6,300 ft of elevation gain. Whew!

We were a bit tired from the previous 2 days of SJPBE, but we were still up for the challenge of Redcloud and Sunshine.

Morning Light On Handies Peak
About 40 minutes into the hike, alongside Silver Pick Creek. First light on Handies Peak!

Silver Creek Trail in Early Morning
Hiking next to Silver Pick Creek was really pretty, so it kept our minds off the aches and pains.

Silver Creek Feeder
I took this picture just for Erin 8^)

Silver Creek Basin in the Morning
About two hours from the trail head, I turned around and got this picture. We had been in the shade all morning and the wind was bracing. We couldn’t wait to get into the sun.

Finally, just as we were nearing the saddle, between Redcloud and Pt. 13,561, we popped into the sun. We were both so thrilled. We took off layers and applied sunscreen.

Just at that time, a young girl in her early 20s passed us. She was hiking with her dad and she was wearing a long skirt! I could only imagine how chilled she must have been in the shady, wind blown basin. In any event, both of them were super nice and gave big smiles as they made their way up to the saddle.

Erin and I played leapfrog with the father/daughter pair, all the way up to the summit. They were super nice and wholesome people and we quite enjoyed talking with them.

Erin Ascending Redcloud Switchbacks
Here’s a picture of Erin on the switchbacks up Redcloud.

Pt 13,832 From Redcloud Slopes
From the same spot as the picture above, here’s a shot of the saddle and Pt. 13,832. I was hoping to summit Pt. 13,832 later that day.

Redcloud Peak (14,034 ft)
The final tidbit of Redcloud! It took us about 3.5 hours to get here from the trail head.

Erin Approaching the Summit of Redcloud Peak
Erin approaching the summit of Redcloud, with Wetterhorn and Uncompaghre in the background!

Once we had summited Redcloud, we decided to hustle over to Sunshine. I had thought about hiking it as a loop, but heard from some other hikers that they were discouraging people from going that way. In hindsight, it’s clear that it depends on how you define the loop.

For example, a family of 4 took off from the summit of Sunshine, who were intending to complete the loop, so I was a bit miffed at the advice we had received earlier. Oh well!

Sign on the Way to Sunshine Peak
They mainly don’t want people coming up between Redcloud and Sunshine. If you take one of the alternative routes up Sunshine, for example, the Sundog route, I think you’d be okay.

Celebrating Sunshine with Borrowed Art
About an hour after leaving Redcloud, we were on the summit of Sunshine. Yay!

Erin Celebrates Her 10th 14'er Summit on Sunshine
Here’s Erin, celebrating her 10th 14’er summit! Sweet!

Redcloud from Sunshine Peak
Looking at our impending traverse back over the summit of Redcloud. Dark clouds were building overhead and it looked threatening.

Ascending South Ridge of Redcloud Peak
About halfway across the traverse, we were graupeled on and it really made me nervous. Being stuck in between these two monstrous peaks in a lightning storm would be awful as there is no shelter.

I urged Erin to pick up the pace and she did. I ran ahead to the summit, to prepare for a mad dash down-if we needed it. Thankfully, by the time Erin got there, things in the heavens were starting to calm down!

We had a discussion about the rest of the afternoon. She was all set to head back to the truck, but I wanted to grab the Centennial Pt. 13,832. I asked her if she’d be willing to hang out at the saddle between Redcloud and Pt. 13,561 and she said she would…because she is an awesome friend! It is now around 12:30pm.

I estimate I would be able to summit the Centennial and be back within line of sight by 2pm, so we agree to radio rendezvous at that time.

Redcloud Peak From the East
Around 35 minutes later, I’m standing at the base of Pt. 13,561 looking back at Redcloud. With a mile to the Pt. 13,832, I better boogie…so I pick up the pace.

Redcloud Peak and Pt.13,561
Another 10 minutes and I take this picture…Pt. 13,561 is now behind me, you can see it right of frame.

Pt 13,832 - A Bonus Centennial
My Destination, Pt. 13,832! Yay!

On the Summit of Pt 13,842
On top of Pt. 13,832. It took me about an hour to bag, from the summit of Redcloud. Now, I’ve gotta run back to the saddle, so I can radio Erin.

Looking Eastward from Pt 13,842
Looking eastward, I wish I had time to grab Pt. 13,811…but it would add on another 2 miles and I’m running out of time. It’s now approaching 1:40pm…so I’m already pushing it.

Looking Back to the Saddle Below Redcloud
I need to get back to this saddle as fast as possible…It would take me about 45 minutes to get there!

Pt 13,832 Behind Me
Here I am, about halfway back to the saddle, at 2pm. We make our radio rendezvous, at which time Erin is almost back to treeline. I’m happy, because rain is imminent. For the next 30 minutes, I continue running back to the saddle hoping the rain can hold off for *just one more mile*.

The Saddle Below Redcloud Peak
About 10 minutes from the saddle, I decide I need some lunch. After hiking more than 12 miles, I deserve it! I take a nice long 10 minute lunch break and then start running again.

Silver Creek Basin in the Afternoon
At 2:20pm, I am at the saddle, staring at the build up of clouds. I am relieved to know that Erin is in the trees by now, so she should be sheltered if it starts dumping.

Silver Creek Trail in Slight Rain
At 3:15pm, I am running down the Silver Pick trail and blown away by the beauty. I can smell the rain in the air and take a minute to snap one last picture of where I’ve been. It’s a great trail!

Around 3:40pm, it starts raining and continues for about an hour. It actually feels nice to have the cool rain hit my skin, as I plow down the trail. I pass a couple with dogs and stop to chat with them for a few minutes; it’s pouring rain, but nobody seems to care.

Celebrating Success on Redcloud, Sunshine, and Pt 13,832
Back at the truck at 4pm! After running the past 4 miles of the 15 for the day, I am ready to relax!

Erin Rocking Out in Bertha
Erin is a pal. She’s rocking out to some awesomeness and when she opens the door the rush of music nearly blows me over…Joking! We change out of our nasty hiking clothes and hightail it outta there.

Gunnison Brewery
Time to celebrate. We score some fresh brews, at the Gunnison Brewery. We are so completely exhausted that we nearly fall out of our chairs laughing about some of the pictures from our trip. Our poor server doesn’t know what to do since he can’t make out our incoherent mumbles…After three days in the backcountry, burning several thousand calories every day, we were hungry and *THIRSTY*.

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