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Redcloud & Sunshine

Friday & Saturday, July 17-18, 2015

This weekend Diane had to stay home so I set out on my own into the San Juan Mountains to finally climb my first 14ers of the year. I planned to hike to the top of Redcloud Peak and Sunshine Peak bright and early on Saturday morning. I left work early on Friday and after stopping for a late lunch at Handlebars in Silverton, I continued up the Animas River to the top of Cinnamon Pass. I parked at the pass and took a short warm-up hike to the top of Cinnamon Mountain, an easy 13er. Short hikes at elevation and sleeping above 10,000 feet really helps me get acclimated quicker.

My first glimpse of Redcloud Peak seen from Cinnamon Pass. It would hopefully be my first 14er of the year in the morning.

Redcloud from Cinnamon

Not much left of this old building near the pass. Wood Mountain is in the background (13,660).

Falling to Pieces

A different view of the ruins with Animas Forks Mountain (13,722) beyond.

Within Ruins

Cinnamon Mountain (13,328) seen from my hike up to the ridge.

Cinnamon Mountain

On the ridge.

On the Edge

Great views up here as I climbed to the summit.

Cinnamon View

View from the summit of Cinnamon Mountain.

Cinnamon Mountain Summit

Looking down over the ghost town of Animas Forks from the top.

Animas Forks Below

Whitecross Mountain (13,542) in the sunlight with Redcloud Peak (left) and Sunshine Peak (right) in the shadows behind.

Whitecross Mountain

Back to my Jeep at Cinnamon Pass. It was time to head down the other side and find a campsite for the night.

Cinnamon Pass

Driving through Burrows Park along the Lake Fork of the Gunnison. Sundog (13,432) is directly in front of the road with Redcloud and Sunshine to each side in the background.

Burrows Park

After setting up camp near the Silver Creek trailhead I had a visitor join me for a few minutes.

Camp Visitor

Great view from my camp this evening.

Behind Camp

I was planning on an alpine start Saturday morning, so I tried to go to bed early. This never seems to work out as well as I hope and I typically just lay in my sleeping bag for a while before actually falling asleep. This night was no exception. I’m not sure when I fell asleep (I didn’t want to know what time it was, so I never looked at a clock), but when my alarm went off at 3:30am I was wide awake. I guess that means I managed to get enough sleep. After a quick snack for breakfast I started hiking shortly before 4:00am. There was no moon out this morning and the sky was pretty clear, so I was accompanied on my hike by a canopy of bright stars above with the sound of Silver Creek rushing beside me. Since the stars alone did not provide me with enough light to see, I had to use my headlamp until shortly before sunrise.

Not long after sunrise I made it to the saddle below Redcloud Peak and was finally able to start taking photos. Warm light strikes the mountain tops towards the Continental Divide.

Warm Light

My first destination, Redcloud Peak, is on the left. Still over 1,000 feet to climb at this point…

Saddle View

Morning haze with Bristol Head in the distance.

The Haze

The final stretch to the summit of Redcloud Peak (14,034).

To the Top

On the summit of Redcloud looking over to Sunshine Peak (14,001), my next destination this morning. It’s about a mile and a half away and I’d have to lose about 500 feet of elevation and climb most of that again.

Redcloud Summit & Sunshine

The obvious trail to Sunshine Peak.

Sunshine Trail

The final rocky climb to the top.

Sunshine Climb

Nice views from up here.

Morning Light

Finally! The summit of Sunshine Peak, my second 14er of the day and the year. Sunshine Peak has the distinction of being the shortest of all the Colorado 14ers.

Sunshine Peak Summit

After reaching Sunshine, I decided to return the way I had come, which meant I had to go back over Redcloud again. After summiting Redcloud for the second time I was treated to great views of Uncompahgre Peak, Wetterhorn Peak and Matterhorn Peak.

Back Over Redcloud

A closer look at Wetterhorn and Matterhorn with Coxcomb in the shadow.

Wetterhorn & Matterhorn

Looking up Grizzly Gulch to Handies Peak (14,048), which was my very first 14er.

Handies Peak & Grizzly Gulch

Nice light down in Bent Creek.

Bent Creek Basin

The nice thing about returning the way I had come was that I got to see what the hike along Silver Creek actually looked like since it was dark when I came through here in the morning. The afternoon storm clouds had already started building at this time.

Upper Basin

Descending View

Silver Creek Basin

Wildflower Trail

An incoming storm behind Whitecross Mountain. It would hold off until I reached my campsite and got everything packed up into my Jeep.

Incoming Storm

One last look at Handies Peak over Silver Creek.

Handies & Whitecross

After finishing the hike and packing up my camp I headed over to Lake City and then drove over Slumgullion Pass and Spring Creek Pass so I could drive to the top of Bristol Head. I thought it was going to be a quick drive to the top, but the road was longer and rougher than I thought, so it took a while to get there.

I made another friend along the way.


View from the summit of Bristol Head (12,706) with storms all around. After taking this photo there was a nearby lightning strike and I quickly got back into my Jeep.

Bristol Head Summit Storm

Stormy View


Driving back down from the summit.

San Juan View

The gentle face of Bristol Head seen during my drive back down to the highway.

Bristol Head

>> Redcloud & Sunshine Photo Gallery


  1. Bill
    Bill August 10, 2015

    Thank you so very much! The photography is absolutely exquisite. Feel like I was there with you on the trip, and since it’s been too long since I’ve been to the mountains, that is really helpful right now. Blessings to you, as you have blessed me greatly.

  2. dfpoor
    dfpoor November 12, 2019

    The buck photo is outstanding. Did you take it from inside the jeep?
    If I drive to Bristol Head by car how close can I get?
    Thanks for posting your photos.

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat November 12, 2019

      Yes, I believe I took that photo from inside the Jeep. If you mean a regular car, I don’t think you will get very far, it was a really rough road from what I can remember. You’ll definitely want something with high clearance.

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