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 Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
 Post Date:  09/07/2012
 Date Climbed:   09/04/2012
 Posted By:  HikerJake

 Quandary Peak   

Today I hiked my first 14er of the season, Quandary Peak (14,265 feet). It was my third full day in Colorado and just my second hike, so the acclimation process to the altitude was much quicker than during my first visit to the state last year from the flat land of DC. After hiking up to Pawnee Pass (12,555 ft) on Monday, I felt I was ready to start on the 14ers.

The Quandary climb along its east ridge can best be described as one long, steady, plodding walk. After about a half mile in pine trees, I emerged onto a rocky trail and could see what I thought was the summit a LONG way from me. I plodded on. For the entire hike, I stole views at an alluring ridge across a valley to the south and the pointy summits of a couple of mountains beyond it. I’m pretty sure those summits belonged to my targets for the following day’s hike — Mt. Bross, Mt. Democrat and Mt. Lincoln.



As I continued up, there, just to the side of the trail, was a pair of white-as-snow mountain goats! I had never confronted the alpine animals before, so I wasn’t positive how to proceed, but they didn’t seem agitated the least by my presence. I snapped a couple pictures and continued on. As I would see an hour later, their friends — including a couple baby goats — were farther up the trail, again just a few feet from where people were hiking, and I took photos of them, too. What a sight!



Besides the mountains goats, the climb was pretty straightforward. As I got within about a mile of the summit, the grade increased and I had to stop for a few seconds frequently to catch my breath. I’m just not used to this kind of altitude! I clearly wasn’t the only flat-lander doing the hike — probably one of the easier 14ers — as I noticed several other people with their hands on knees. I probably saw about 50 others on the trail.

After ascending the steep pitch, I reached a flat area and saw the marked summit just a few hundred feet in front of me. I completed the 3.4-mile ascent with 3,450 feet of elevation gain in just over two hours. The descent took about an hour and a half.




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


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