For our last big test before Mt. Rainier- our training plan required us to do two hikes in a row, each with full packs (at least 40 pounds), and each with at least 5,000 feet of gain. Yikes!
So we headed out to the San Juans, are favorite area of Colorado to do some hiking! Since it was early for 14er season (mid June) we had amazing views because there was still a lot of snow on the mountains.
You really cannot beat snow capped San Juan peaks, add in the vibrant red color from Redcloud Peak, and it’s pretty spectacular!
Despite the beauty, this was an EXHAUSTING day! I have never hiked 14ers with more than probably a 10 pound pack. Thanks to our hard training plan, we were able to do it- but it still definitely kicked my butt!
On top of everything this was the day after my birthday. So I technically got to relax and enjoy my birthday some but then come 3am after a cold night of camping at the trailhead, we were up and on the trail.
The route still had a lot of snow on it. This made for an extra tiring day of postholing and groveling around lol. But in retrospect it was worth it for the snowy views! On the summit of Redcloud Peak, below.
I love the red color! We also had the summit all to ourselves – this is something you can almost never get on a frontrange peak- especially on a nice day,
In this picture below you can see the trail over to Sunshine peak, the second 14er of the day. What makes this hike so much harder than most of the combo 14ers we had done before, is that they are fairly far apart. To get from Redcloud to Sunshine you have to descend 500 feet and then re-ascend 500 feet, and travel 1.5 miles. This doesn’t sound like much, but on rocky terrain, with a heavy pack, already tired, and doing all of that in the 13,500-14,000+ range, is pretty tiring. Then to get back you have to retrace your steps. So back down 500 feet, up 500 feet again and then you are back on Redcloud, and still have the entire route back to the car!
Jeb on the summit of Redclod. The only thing that would have made this day better/prettier would have been some mountain goats! Where were they?! lol.
We made it over to Sunshine peak! Sunshine selfie! lol. In Colorado there is a 14er called Sunshine Peak and another called Sunlight Peak. It is easy to confuse them in name, but not in difficulty. Sunlight Peak is a class 4, very technically difficult 14er, and probably one we will never do.
The view from Sunshine.
Looking back towards redcloud.
On the way down from this hike I started getting agonizing foot (toe) pain from a shoe problem. My shoe was crunching my toe so badly that it was insanely painful. By the last 2-3 miles I was limping and crying off and on from the severe pain. I know it doesn’t sound like toe pain should be such a big deal, but it is- it makes every step horrible. My legs kept buckling because they were giving out from the impact of the pain on my toe. The last half mile I gave Jeb my pack and he carried both back to the car to take some weight off my foot. I was moving so slowly and miserably, but I finally made it back. I have since bought new shoes and I still often bring my crocs as a backup in case something like that ever happens again. I don’t ever want to be so debilitatingly crippled like that by something that shouldn’t have to be an issue…
This hat never stays on my head properly, it looks so stupid! lol.
Looking back towards the direction we came from.
This was definitely a day of mixed feelings. This was probably one of the most beautiful views I have ever witnessed in my life, along with one of the most severely painful days I’ve ever had. I’m glad it’s over now and I can just enjoy the pictures. 🙂 But catching up on blog posts even 4 months later- my toenail still is only half way healed from this day…