Last summer Glen and I made our way to the top of Mount Quandary, our first 14er, while on a vacation to Summit County, CO. The trail to Quandary Peak is fairly short at 6.5 miles, but it makes up for it by heading straight up the side of the mountain. We met up with Glen’s friend Ed and his dog Merrick (a real trooper). Ed had done the trail before and knew the area a lot better than the two of us. I definitely struggled a bit with the lack of O2, having lived most of my life at around 500 feet above sea level, but it was definitely worth it and is an accomplishment I am very proud of!
The trailhead is extremely convenient from Breckenridge, and that was part of the appeal for us. The trail starts out heading straight up towards the peak beginning in a thick evergreen forest. This shade doesn’t last long, and soon we were getting a good view of what we were up against.
And thus began the main mental hurdle that I would be dealing with for the whole hike… You can see the peak from the beginning of the hike! This may not be anything new to you western hikers out there, but where I am from we can’t see much further than 100 feet in front of you at any time. You only have to deal with what is 100 feet in front of you! I was walking up this “hill” looking at the top thinking, “That doesn’t seem to be getting much closer,” for HOURS!
Thankfully there was more to look at while continuing up the trail. The day we were on the mountain was spectacularly clear! You could see for miles in all directions.
The trail continues to follow this eastern-facing ridge all the way to to the top. It was pretty easy to follow on this day, and we ran into a number of other people making their way to the top. The trail’s proximity to Breckenridge brings out a few people who look a little unprepared for what is in store for them.
When we did make it to the top I was to afraid to pull out my windbreaker with the extremely gusty winds. I was very glad to have packed my beanie hat though. It felt like the temperature had dropped probably 30 degrees at the summit. We huddled behind some large rocks and enjoyed our accomplishment.
If this write-up of the hike makes it sound like I didn’t LOVE this trail then I have done it a disservice. I wouldn’t trade this memory for anything and would encourage anyone who is interested to go check it out themselves. Be prepared for rapidly changing conditions and drink LOTS of water, and you will love these panoramic views. We even made it down from the mountain in time for lunch and a few beers. A great day!