From Quandary Peak TH
Sunday August 1, 2004
Since I had hiked my first alpine summit (Mt Audubon) a week before I felt I was ready to take the challenge and climb my first 14’er. I was camping at Peak One campground at Lake Dillon and my alarm watch woke me at 5:00AM, I prepared a quick breakfast of instant oatmeal & black coffee and got my day pack ready.
I drove nine miles to the trailhead and there were already plenty of cars and I actually had to park on the side of the road which just so happened to be right next to the trail entrance. I made ready and hit the trail at 6:30 up the side of the slope on a series of fairly large switchbacks as I climbed up into the forest in which every step I took was up. The grade was pretty gradual at first and then became a bit steeper as I went and the day was quite warm but I kept on moving and drank plenty of water.
As I climbed higher the day grew warmer and as the trees began to thin out the trail seemed to level-off a little and then moves to the left and the wooded trail gives way to a well traveled rocky trail where I found myself quite a bit more exposed as I was now above tree line and rounding back to the right where I could now see the summit way up above and the Blue Lakes down below to the left. The rocky trail soon became like a steep narrow stairway to heaven as every step I took gained nearly a foot of elevation, or so it seemed.
The trail continues to climb rather steeply and I now passed several people who were most definitely running out of gas, I would not see many of the people that I would pass heading up as a good many of them didn’t seem to be carrying near enough water to sustain them on this hot morning in bright sun as they no doubt turned-back for good reason. The trail then levels-out for a short distance and I took a rest as I could now see the summit ridge coming up.
I headed up the final ascent up the ridge and found that I had to stop every once in a while to catch my breath as it was rather steep on the final section just below the summit. I took one last rest and then pressed-on to the summit and reached the top at 8:40 to find only four other people on top. I took many photos as the views were fantastic in every direction and the weather was perfect although just a bit hazy due to the Nucla fire many miles away. I stayed at the summit about 30 mins and then started back down with lots of people now starting to crowd the summit and I was glad I was leaving.
I found the steep rocky sections going down to be a bit rough on my knees and I took it slow and stopped often to allow other people on their way up to pass by. I got back to the TH at 11:05 and felt great, my 1st 14’er and a perfect summer morning in Colorado. Sweet!!