Peak(s):  Bent Pk  -  13,393 feet
Sunshine Mtn A  -  13,321 feet
Post Date:  11/27/2012
Modified:  05/18/2013
Date Climbed:   11/23/2012
Posted By:  d_baker

 HellBent for Sunshine   

HellBent for Sunshine


November 23 & 24, 2012

Hikers: Terri Horvath & Darin Baker

Day 1
Bent Peak (13,393’)

Day 2
Sunshine Mountain A (13,321’)

San Juan Range


Gear: daypack w/Essentials; seasonal gear (i.e., mitts, goggles, down coat, chemical hand warmers, etc.)

Resources Used For Trip Planning: TOPO! mapping software; Trails Illustrated Map #141; NOAA weather forecast


Working for a golf course construction company takes me to places I wouldn’t ordinarily want to be – such as Omaha, NE.

For a month I lived vicariously through reports posted on 14ers, just biding my time until I could get my ass back to the mountains. Finally the work in Omaha wraps up, and I’m sent packing to Colorado for the next job. Ohhh….lucky me!! Just in time for Thanksgiving too! And what’s this I’m told? I can take all 4 days off too? But what will I do with that much time off?! Time for some mountain sunshine….


The Plan

Terri has some 13ers to do in the Lake City area, so she maps out several possibilities. I see Sunshine Mountain A on the list, and after a quick look at the map I realize where it’s located. With its location so close to some of my favorite 14ers, along with the allure of its name, it was a no-brainer to choose Sunshine to wrap up our 2 days in Lake City. But first, we’ll get Bent….

Day 1
Bent Peak (13,393’)
Approach/Route: Wager Gulch/SE ridge
Distance: ~10.5mi RT
Elevation Gain: ~3900’
Difficulty: class 2 hiking
Current Conditions: Approach on the road was snow covered, but was tracked out by a 4x4 w/chains since last storm, so it was easy walking. The 4x4 track went the first 3mi, so from there we had to break trail, which at the most was boot deep. Once out of tree line and beyond Carson townsite there were often snow-free road edges . From saddle to summit was mostly windswept and/or melted out. Traction devices and flotation not needed. Gaitors recommended.


After a couple of warm-up peaks in the Sawatch on Thanksgiving Day, we drove to Lake City that evening and car-camped at Mill Creek campground. FYI: bathrooms are open and well stocked.

Crawling out of the bags in the morning was slow, but we eventually got moving and prepped our packs for the day ahead. A quick ~1.5mi drive back to our E puts us on the Wager Gulch road, where Terri braved the first .3mi in her Xterra before making the wise decision that we need not to try to go higher with current conditions.

The Hike

We plod up the road and came to a fork. We take the wrong one. Damn! We quickly correct our course and get back on the southerly track. (Note to others: Take the right fork.)

Carson townsite

Approaching the saddle that the Continental Divide rides

Hear me roar

At the saddle, Terri spotted a fully intact spine/ribs/neck and skull of an elk. Legs were gone, presumably by a hunter that had quartered his (or her) kill and left the rest for pickings. Kind of neat, yet creepy!

For November, the weather was a warm welcome with only a slight breeze. It was the kind of weather to relax on the summit and enjoy the views. Conversely, it was the kind of weather that “peak baggers” would take advantage of and do a slew of other points. I’m glad I’m not a peak bagger!

Carson Peak (13,657’) to the W

Handies Peak (14,something’) to the NW
Photo by Terri

A broad view to our NW/N

The route from the saddle (SE ridge)

Half can of Salt ‘n Vinegar Pringles and a healthy handful of York Pieces later, we depart for the Carson townsite for some window shopping. It’s Black Friday, after all! Getting Bent was a fun time, but now it’s time for Sunshine

Day 2
Sunshine Mountain A (13,321’)
Approach/Route: Jeep rd out of Capitol City (as can be seen on the topo)/circuitous ridge route
Distance: ~9mi RT
Elevation Gain: ~3650’
Difficulty: class 2 hiking with very minor route finding once the road ends
Current Conditions: The jeep road (i.e., old mining road) has minimal snow on its mostly S aspect. Beyond the road and in the trees is also S facing, and it’s mostly snow free. What snow we did encounter was rarely if at all much more than 2”. Same tune above and beyond tree line. Traction devices and/or snowshoes would be overkill.


After hiking Bent Peak on Friday, we drove into Lake City and stopped at the Lake City Café for some dinner. First time eating there and I would definitely go back!

After dinner, we drove up the Henson Creek road in search of our “trail head” for the next morning. It was dark. Maybe in the morning light we’ll be able to confidently identify our jeep road. Yeah, good idea!

And this is what it looks like in daylight

We parked in the lot at the split for Alpine Loop & the Matterhorn Creek road approach, and slept there for the night.

The Hike

Easy road walking in beautiful fall weather

Above the trees and on a tundra slope that leads to the ridge

A Sunshine Mountain

On the ridge, we get pummeled with views like this

I felt rather small
(Photo by Terri)

Stunning ridge walking on this fine November day


The American Basin group to the S

Some of the stars above the Dallas Divide
Photo by Terri

Getting furry. Papi, am I winning?

Soak in the sunshine now, because it’s time to go

Thanks for reading,

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Beautiful area!     11/28/2012 04:05
Nice write up, Darin. That's a heck of a beard. My better counterpart made me shave my molestache early


Hey!     11/28/2012 04:24
Welcome home, dude.

Good to have you back.


Welcome back, D...     11/28/2012 04:32
It has been too long. Looks like a great weekend with a pretty cool partner. Your TR style sets the bar high. It was discussed at length this past weekend.

You've got me in the wookie department by a mile too. I just need to let go.

You should tell your employer that you are allergic to mountains and they'd probably send you to Ridgway or Driggs.


Chewbacca!     11/28/2012 06:41
Did you escape from the Omaha Zoo? Or the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk?

I'm going to avoid hikes with you in the near future out of fear of having my arms ripped out of their sockets. I thought you guys preferred warm, forest climates? Keep in mind, those Bowcasters won't replace an ice axe in the event of a fall on a steep snow slope.

York pieces over patties eh? You also need to make a choice and stick with it re: Pringles vs. Lays Stacks.


Now it's going to be in my head all day.....     11/28/2012 13:05


Nice!!     11/28/2012 16:11
Love that last shot! Thanks, Darin!


GREAT Woolly BEAST!     11/28/2012 17:30

I thought MtnHub was complimenting Image 22 until I put my glasses on. The image remains hairy and unclear even with visual aids.

Great TR, pics, narrative. The usual Baker issue.
Welcome home, amigo!


Pringles     11/29/2012 05:15
It's a no-brainer. And nice beard, my man. Welcome back to the rocky mountains. It looks like you made yourself right at home.

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