I had to be at work by noon today and I didn’t really feel
like getting up at 2am this morning, so I chose a quick, easy, and close
hike. Also it’s a Thursday and there’s
snow on the peaks, so I was hoping to avoid hiking traffic.
I got up at 3:30am and made it to the Quandry Trailhead at
6am. There were noticeably more vehicles
on the road this morning than when I usually drive to 14ers. Must have been because I wasn’t leaving quite
The road to the trailhead is a short 2WD dirt road. I can’t imagine it ever gives people
problems. There are two parking lots, a
lower one (with 2 clean porta potties) that can hold about 50 cars, and an
upper one that can hold 5-6.
I started at 6:15am. This
is obviously a great snowshoeing trail, as it’s wide and has a lot of wooden
trail signs pointing the way. I was able to see them, even in the dark.
The trail meandered through a forest and when I came to
treeline the snow began on the trail and sun began to rise. I absolutely LOVE sunrises from 14ers, so I
stopped to take a few pictures.
At this point I was at 12,800’ and microspikes were
needed. Well, not needed necessarily, as
technically you could just follow the ridge to the left and not need them, but
what’s the fun in that? I put on my
microspikes and climbed straight up that ridge, looking for cairns. This one was obvious, but after this I didn’t
see any more.
Funny thing, that ridge didn’t seem to end! As soon as I’d reach the top of one, I’d see
another. And they were all covered in
snow. Luckily the snow was packed
tightly, but it felt like I was hiking on my tip-toes.
I kept climbing and climbing and climbing, and eventually I just
had one more ridge to go
It felt like it had taken FOREVER to climb that entire
ridge, but I summited at 8am. The summit
was flat but looked a bit rocky under all that snow.
I took a look around.
The views were amazing! The
entire high country is blanketed in snow!
I took a picture to prove I’d summited
And turned around.
Now I got to hike back down that ridge!
Hiking down is usually more difficult for me than hiking up because I
train running uphill (so my muscles are used to it) and my center of gravity is
off when hiking down hill. Also, my
knees are at about 95% right now after those falls two weeks ago. I only notice it when I either touch my knees
where they were injured or go down stairs/climb down mountainsides. Not to mention by now the sun had come up and
the snow was now more icy/slippery.
That ridge seemed to go on forever on the way down as well! It was indeed quite slippery, and I was happy
to practice maintaining my balance on the ice/snow. I appreciated when I sank into the snow about
2-3 inches, as it gave me traction. I
never post-holed, but it was obvious others had and would later in the
Here’s a happy story:
I rounded a corner, and saw a Mountain Goat!
I’ve hiked 14ers dozens of times and this is the first time
I’ve ever seen a mountain goat while hiking!
I know they’re popular on a lot of the trails, but I never seem to see
them on those trails. Anyway, I named
him Billy and he seemed to like me.
In fact, Billy followed me for about a quarter mile of the
He was a slow hiker however, and soon I had to say
This part of the trail gave me the views I’d missed hiking
in the morning: views of a few 13ers:
Wheeler Mountain, Drift Peak, and Fletcher Mountain.
All in all, this was a pretty easy hike. I made it back to the trailhead at 9:55am,
which meant I’d hiked about 7 miles with 3500’ in gain elevation in less than 3.5
hours, and that included time to take a lot of sunrise/goat pictures, and to
hike alongside a mountain goat for quite a while.
I’ll probably be back to do this one with more winter
conditions (and friends) later this season!
I need an excuse to try out my new snoeshoes…
Oh, and I made it to work at 11:58am. I hadn’t made it home to take a shower first,
but that’s ok because I was the only one there and just needed to be there for
a WebEx call. I put on a new shirt, did
my hair, and was good to go!