As the weather starts to cool just a bit, I found myself going back through old files from past Colorado adventures. One of the treks was with my best guy friend, Matt, as we camped in Lake City and Crested Butte, hiked several 14ers, endured a driving rainstorm, trekked through fields of Columbine up a Rocky Mountain pass, and back down again. It was a fun and memorable adventure.

The trip started with a stop in Colorado Springs for Rudy’s barbecue. The food is not quite up to par with Texas bbcue, but it’ll do when in the Centennial State. Being the planner I am, I had brought a few bottles of Salt Lick sauce with me to Colorado, and being prepared paid off. After that, a long drive to Lake City found us setting up camp on the shores of Lake San Cristobal. With mosquitoes buzzing around like WW2 fighter planes, we rigged up the tent and tried to sleep. Not long after, though, the storms of wind, rain, thunder and lightning, left us wanting for sleep. I made a break for the car and spent the rest of the evening in the back of my 4-Runner.

After a dismal night of sleep, we drove the 14 or so miles to the Silver Creek trailhead. The hike up to Redcloud Peak (14,034’) gains about 3700’ over 4.5 miles. The trail is beautiful, and in the summer wildflowers spring up along the creek. Atop Redcloud, the iron-laden rock and dirt appears as a dark orange – fairly unique for high mountain tops.

Views from the top of Sunshine Peak in Colorado are amazing.

A hiker slogs up the slopes of Sunshine Peak after making the traverse from Redcloud Peak. These two beautiful 14ers are located near Lake City, Colorado, and make for a great way to spend the morning.

But this was not our final goal, so we made the easy traverse over to Sunshine Peak (14,001’). The trail is easy to follow and gives you another 1.5 miles and 550 vertical feet. The views north from Sunshine Peak are an amazing sight, indeed. Uncompahgre Peak (14,309’), Wetterhorn Peak (14,015’), and Redcloud are all in the same view. In all, we covered about 11+ miles and 4700 vertical feet. While the skies were patchy blue on top, by the time we approached our car, the bottom dropped out  of the clouds and the rains again came down hard. Fortunately, we scrambled to our car and avoided a total soaking. We did pass several folks on their way up when we were near the end of the trail close to the trailhead, and felt somewhat badly because they had to be soaked. On the other hand, no one should be starting a 14er so late in the morning, especially in the summer months!

Next up, we drove to Crested Butte, but not before stopping in Gunnison for a chicked fried steak dinner. With bellies full, we slept a bit better than the previous evening, awoke early the next morning, and made our way over a still somewhat snowy Gothic Road 14+ miles to Schofield Pass. The trailhead starts at a large turnout and we were the first ones to head out (it was still dark outside). By the time daylight approached, we could tell there were wildflowers along the path, and as the sun broke over the ridge, the blue petals of Columbine were evident. Our goal was West Maroon Pass, a notch in the rock that divides the Aspen area from Crested Butte. The trail is about 8 miles round trip and covers about 2700 vertical feet – a nice respite after logging a lot more the morning before. The views were magnificent and the wildflowers amazing. The last set of switchbacks to the top of the pass brought out my acrophobia just a bit, but I’ve come a long way fighting my fear of heights. This path’s drop-off, while easy to some, was just another mental challenge for me. And I know it is all in my head – the physical part isn’t an issue. Mind over matter; one foot in front of the other.

The trip was great, and I hope Matt and I can make our way down south to the Lake City and Crested Butte area again sometime. Until then,

Safe travels, everyone!

~ Rob

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