TRIP REPORT: REDCLOUD (14,034′) and SUNSHINE (14,001′) PEAKS

What a gorgeous pair of peaks for fall! With the leaves changing, and the bold colors of the mountain, this was a very beautiful climb.

Redcloud and Sunshine are located in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado just outside of Lake City. The climb itself is an easy class 2. t=There are a few points in the trail in which you are navigating scree but the trail is well defined. The scariest part was honestly the rough 4×4 road to get to the trailhead.

We car camped at the trailhead and started hiking at 3am because weather was supposed to roll in early afternoon. Since it is mid-September, starting at 3am looks A LOT different than starting that early in mid-summer. This is the darkest part of the state, hands down due to its remoteness. We spent the first 3 hours in pitch-black as we had no moon, and clouds masked the stars. The darkness slowed us down a bit in spots. At about 1 3/4 miles there are a few scree fields to navigate across and doing so in the dark was a challenge. The key is to hug the stream and not get too high in the scree fields. About 2 1/2 miles in the remainder of the trail to the saddle is well defined a tundra meadow.

By the time we got to the saddle, twilight began to make itself known, just in time for us navigating the switchbacks up the steep scree. We enjoyed sunrise from about halfway up the ridge and slowly made our way to the summit of Redcloud. The red dirt and colors on this mountain are unreal and absolutely gorgeous! We spent a quick moment on the summit before continuing down the ridge to Sunshine.

There is about a mile and a half between peaks and the ridge walk was fairly straight forward. The final pitch to the summit of sunshine is all scree but there is a defined trail and the rocks are fairly stable despite how loose they look. After 20 minutes on the summit we made our way back towards Redcloud to head back down. This ridge walk back to Redcloud’s summit seemed like it took forever and was honestly the hardest part of the climb mentally.

Once we made it back down to the saddle, the rest of the walk down was incredibly quick and very pretty as we could see the colors of the leaves that we couldn’t see in the dark. The views the entire day were absolutely stunning and I HIGHLY recommend this pair. Redcloud in particular is now pretty high on my favorite 14ers list. Car to car was 10 hours. We took our time, especially in the dark. Overall, this was a beautiful day!

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