Quandary Peak - 14,265 feet above sea level

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday was the designated hiking day, with the original plan being to leave around 8:30 am and be back by 1:00 pm at the latest. Dad picked out Quandary Peak, just past Breckenridge, and did some preliminary research so we had an idea what to expect before we started the adventure. It was reported to be a 6.2-mile round-trip hike and Dad's best estimates calculated that it’d take about two hours to reach the summit and just one to descend.

A few delays in the morning made the original 8:30 departure time unattainable, but we were in high spirits and on the trail at 9:45. It started out nicely defined, mostly dirt with a few rocks, tree roots, and the occasional downed tree disturbing the path. The altitude proved to be the most difficult adjustment, and we made several stops within the first hour just to catch our breath. Once we passed the tree line, the path became more narrow and rocky. Because of the shape of the mountain and the location of the trail, it was impossible to see the peak, but we still had high hopes of reaching it in just two hours. As other hikers passed us on their descent, we asked what time they started – 5:30 and 6:30 were the most common responses. This was at 10:45, so we started to think we might have been a little off in our estimates. Around 11:15, Mom decided that she was going to wait for us to come back down – the combination of the altitude and rocky path was proving to be quite difficult.

Dad and I continued on our way up, with notable highlights being mountain goats not even ten feet away from us, loose gravel on the path, a 15% grade for at least a quarter mile, a minor freak out on my part approximately 30 minutes from the summit, all of which lead to our eventual arrival at the peak at 1:15 after three and a half hours of climbing. I was frustrated but so happy to be at the top; I was even willing to forgive the fact that it was probably only 45-50F. I shot a video at the top for my friends in Brazil because I had showed them the view from our condo the other day via Skype and they were in awe of the scenery.

We only relaxed for about ten minutes at the top before beginning our descent. It’s not that it wasn’t beautiful and it’s not that I wouldn’t have liked to have rested my legs a little longer, but we were worried about having left Mom for so long by herself and I personally was just ready to get the hell off the mountain. It was slow-going for the first 45 minutes back down just given that it was so steep and rocky. I fell four times on the way down, which I attribute to slick and/or loose rocks and my running shoes, which are clearly not designed for hiking.

After the first 45 minutes of the descent, I realized that my mom was probably another ten minutes ahead of us. When we got to a point where it was easier to go a little faster, I jogged to catch up with her. Obviously she was waiting for us to come back down for quite a while, and after a certain point she decided to hike up to try to find us for food and water (don’t get me wrong – we didn’t leave her without either, she just ran out). This was probably around 2:15, and we continued down the mountain for the next hour and a half, finally arriving back at the car at 3:45. I looked at the trailhead sign and saw that the trail is actual 3.33 miles one way, 6.66 round trip. Is that a coincidence that 666 is the number of the devil? So much for a short morning hike!

There was no time to rest our weary bodies; we drove straight from the trail to Hoosier Pass, which we just stopped at to take pictures. How perfect was it that I was wearing my Indiana shirt? I’m a big fan of the pictures we took with the sign. The next stop was the condo, where we cleaned up and started packing before heading to dinner with Randy’s family. The Dillon Dam Brewery proved to be an excellent choice for dinner (again, because it was our choice the night before with Dave’s group, too – I guess my dad doesn’t really take my no restaurant repetition rule seriously) and we were all more than satisfied when we left. The rest of the evening consisted of packing and relaxing – it was kind of funny to hear us moaning and groaning because of sore muscles every time we sat down or stood up. I tried to go to bed early but couldn’t sleep because of the reaming feeling in my legs…I tend to get that often after long runs so it doesn’t surprise me that a 6 hour hike led to the same problem.
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