Colorado Mountains (2nd fourteener, Red Cloud Mountain, 14,034’) Aug 13th, 2010
Elevation gain ~4500 ft
Along on this hike was my entire family, my wife and 3 sons. This was actually our 2nd attempt of this week. Earlier in the week on Tuesday we made up the trail to about 13,200’ and then dark clouds and thunder to the SW. The wind came up quickly and before we knew it we were in cold snowy rain and wind. We sat a while thinking it would pass but the dark clouds to the SW persisted so we elected not to attempt the summit and made our way back to the truck. Of course by the time we got back to the truck that day all was clear. However, later that day and the next two days it rain persistently.
We all got on the trail at 6:45am and made our way through the steep grade trail in the trees. You remain in tree line for about the first hour of hiking. The trail slowly begins to parallel a creek to the right. As you are exiting the tree line there is another creek that come down from the Red Cloud and Sunshine peaks to the right and merges with the creek. The trail become a bit more rocky and passes through a couple of small rock slides originating from the left side of the trail. This part of the trail is actually the most gentle slope of the entire parts so do not get used to it. As you begin to climb into the alpine the trail slowly curves to the right and up into a saddle point. From this saddle point you can see the false summit of Red Cloud. For us we could not have picked a better day, it was crystal clear unlike the 3 days prior. The morning started off at 36 degrees but was warming quickly. I elected to have only my shorts and a tee shirt but everyone else had sweat shirts or fleece. Once we all got up to the saddle point at about 13,200’ Amy decided she was not feeling well with nausea and slight headache. She decided not the make the trek to the top and her and Jacob decided to turn around and wait for us at the truck. They took their time on the way down and stopped and had lunch and played in several of the streams on the way down. Alec, Zach and I began our trek to the summit. I had stopped and filtered water from the last stream From the saddle point it gets rocky and steep with some switch backs to the false summit. It took us about 40 minutes to reach the summit from the saddle point. Once we reached the summit by a bit afternoon and were greeted by two couples and a perfect view which I estimate was 50 miles. You could easily see the 4 other fourteeners that were in the local area. This included Mt. Uncompagre which Alec and I climbed last year from the Big Blue Creek valley. The picture really say it all. You are really on top of the world when you are up here and looking down on 12 and 13k peaks. As we starred at Mt. Uncompagre (14,309’) it did not really look all that taller than Red Cloud (14,034’). However, a close up picture tells it all. We sat down and ate our lunch made conversation with the other and signed our names on the paper in the PVC tube under the rocks. The summit is rather small being about 16’ x 10’ with a small pile of rocks in the center. After lunch we took a few more pictures and stared at Sunshine peak which is only about 1.3 miles away and across the tundra with a ~600 ft drop then rise. We really wanted to bag two fourteeners in one day but the Jeep I rented a couple of days prior had to be back in Lake City by 4:30 and we still had to hike down and drive into Lake City. We decided it would still be there next year and started our hike down. The walk down took 2 hrs and 20 min and was clear and warm. This day turned out to be one of the clearest I have experienced in the upper altitudes. We got the Jeep turned in and then started to pack up our gear in preparation for the drive back to Texas and the summer heat. We take with us many memories, relaxation in the cool mountain air, soaking up the many wonderful sites, sense of accomplishment and left only our footprints and yearning to return next year. Here are a few photos of this trek.
See ya out there,
Ah The Wonder, Reminder of Why I Do This
Amy and Jacob at 13,200 on the Trek To Red Cloud
Alec, Zach and I on Top of Red Cloud (14,034’, Aug 13, 2010)
Top of the World from Red Cloud
Close up of Mt. Uncompagre (14,309’) from Red Cloud (14,034’) Alec and I climbed Uncompagre in Aug of 2009
Water bottle brought down from Red Cloud and back to Texas