Quandary Peak (14,271 ft), Tordal Estates, Colorado
Journal of a Mad Hiker (Part 2, continued)
|Hike Stats||Date: September 5, 2002|
|Quandary Peak: 14,271 feet||Base: 10,900 feet||Vertical Rise: 3,371 feet|
|Start: 08:20||Summit: 10:50||Return: 13:00|
|RT Dist: ~7 miles||Conditions: sunny with afternoon storm|
Mount Princeton took quite a bit out of me, so the next day I settled for something a little less challenging. Quandary Peak was just what the doctor ordered -- shorter, milder, and closer to Denver. Like Grays and Torreys, Quandary is considered one of the easiest fourteeners, and most peak baggers make it one of their first. As an attestment to its accessibility, I saw a steady stream of people climbing Quandary on this day. My fellow hikers included an 8-year old child and a 72-year old man (who put me to shame on the ascent by the way).
Quandary Peak is the only fourteener in the Tenmile Range but is usually mentioned in the same breath as the Mosquito Range where mounts Lincoln, Bross, Democrat, and Sherman live. I have been unable to find the origin of its name, and thinking back, I couldn't remember a moment when I felt I was in a quandary while hiking this hill. So if any of you know how Quandary Peak got its name, please drop me a note. Access to Quandary is near Hoosier Pass between Breckenridge and Fairplay on Highway 9, a spectacularly scenic drive worth the trip by itself. The trailhead sits behind a hill flanking Monte Cristo Creek and Reservoir, an easily reachable target in any vehicle or weather, which explains its popularity.
I got a "late" start at 8:20, fully expecting that I would be able to summit in a few hours. As it turns out, I underestimated the hike a tad. There are spots along the way where the trail became very steep (40-degree grade). Add to that a false peak, and you have a tougher hike, at least mentally, than most people expect. I lost the trail at a fork at one point, only to find that both forks later converged. Met a ton of people from all over the country, even a family from the Czech Republic. Got humbled by the 72-year old man who I couldn't catch with all my might. And thoroughly enjoyed the relatively calm and warmer weather that day.
I reached the summit at 10:50. From the top I could see the triple banger peaks (Lincoln, Democrat, and Bross) from two days ago as well as the Front Range mountains to the northeast. The afternoon clouds came and threatened, but never really amounted to much. The descent was uneventful as I finished a short day and arrived back at the car by 13:00. Good thing too, because the next two days were killer!