Sunrise from Redcloud Peak
Sunrise from Redcloud Peak, Redcloud Peak Wilderness Study Area, Colorado
Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks preside over the upper reaches of the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River a few miles northeast of Handies Peak. The upper reaches of both peaks are covered with miles of scree that is colored a beautiful reddish orange by iron oxide ‒ evidence of the mineralization that made the valleys surrounding these peaks a magnet for silver prospectors in the 1870s. Redcloud is a gentle peak from most directions, and a well-made trail leads from the Silver Creek trailhead to the summit. Carrying my 1Ds Mark III, three lenses and a 200-series Gitzo carbon-fiber tripod, I find I can average just over 1,000 feet of elevation gain per hour on a well-defined trail. The most striking image I came up with during my Redcloud shoot was this view looking south towards Sunshine, Colorado's lowest Fourteener at 14,001 feet. The vibrant oranges and reds in this image are the natural product of orange sunrise light bathing orange rock ‒ the only color that can bounce back to your eye is orange. It's easy to see why topographer J.C. Spiller of the Wheeler Survey, who made the first recorded ascent of the peak in 1874, was inspired to name the peak Redcloud.