Colorado Trip, Day 2:
Nick and I left the comfort of the cabin in Lake City before dawn, and retraced our previous night's drive in, past Lake San Cristobal and up the stomach churning route of the shelf road.
We departed Silver Lake Trailhead in the chill of morning shadows, with only the peaks above bathed in warm sunlight. Into the forest we went, moving quickly. In a short time we were at timberline, where the cascading waters of Silver Creek grew louder and closer.
Climbing steadily into a broad, sloping alpine basin, our first goal, Redcloud Peak, came into view. The high pitched squeaks of skittish pikas and the steady whistles of numerous marmots greeted us.
Wrapping around the northern base of Redcloud, we ascended to a high saddle at 13,000 feet, where our first fourteener of the trip loomed directly above. Our switchback ascent of Redcloud Peak's colorful and rocky northeast ridge was punctuated by frequent stops to catch our breath, our bodies not yet having been acclimated. The climb eased as we reached the summit ridge, and we were soon on top of Redcloud Peak's vivid red summit. After a brief moment of celebration, Nick and I continued south toward Sunshine Peak along the magnificent mountain crest. The views were amazing.
We were soon pushing our oxygen starved bodies up one final ascent, having dropped nearly 500 feet of elevation along the mountain crest since Redcloud. The weather forecast had held true, and the sky was clear upon our arrival at the summit of Sunshine Peak. Here we spent quite a bit of time, taking in the views, shooting photos, and enjoying the entire experience.
Eventually we made the return trek to Redcloud Peak, where we stopped for lunch before descending. An assortment of classic San Juan peaks were briefly visible to the north as we began our descent, and a lone biker pushed his bike up the trail past us.
Silver Creek and the area's marmots were our companions as we hiked the last few miles back to my truck under bright, sunny skies.
After lounging at the trailhead for a bit, we drove back to Lake City, stopping along the way to see the Alferd Packer Massacre Site. Back in Lake City, we gorged on pizza at Poker Alice's restaurant and poured over maps, finalizing the next day's plan. A perfect day, for sure!