Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,265 feet
Date Posted:  08/27/2012
Date Climbed:   08/27/2012
Author:  kaitimae

 Sunrise on Quandry  

My brother and his friend are in town this week (from Michigan and Tennessee, respectfully), and they REALLY wanted to do a sunrise summit. Since I wanted to hang out with them I took the day off work and planned the trip for us. Thanks to some great members in the forum for their help and suggestions, I finally decided we should do Quandry. It was one neither my brother (David) or I had done before, and it was Chad's first 14er ever.

We all slept as late as we could on Sunday, which was only about 11 AM. We bummed around Denver for the day picking up supplies, walking around, drinking beer, etc. We all managed to take short naps in the afternoon. After dinner and another quick supply stop, we were on our way! We got to the Quandry trailhead at 12:35 AM and started hiking soon after. (By the way... this has got to be one of the easiest THs to find and get to! Yay Quandry!)

I have done several 14ers before, but never during the middle of the night. It hands down had to be one of the coolest experiences ever.

We spent the first 20 minutes stopping to take off clothes... we had layered up at the car and quickly got overheated. After that, it was smooth sailing for quite awhile. We stopped fairly often to take short breaks to drink, eat a bit, and turn off our headlamps to look at the stars. Seriously incredible. The moon had already set, and the stars were fantastic. We even saw several meteorites! We made sure we talked pretty much nonstop to scare off any possible big wildlife... but the only thing we came across during the night were some big spiders crawling across the path. I don't think they cared...

After we passed treeline we stopped again to put all our layers back on. It was quite windy at times, and calm at others. Our breaks became a little shorter because no one wanted to sit around very long with the temp and the wind the way they were. I love love loved hiking in the dark though. It was so very fun!

I feel I should also add that the trail was very easy to follow - thanks to the pics on this website (which I have been studying for a week at least now) I knew pretty much exactly where to go, even in the dark.

Once we got to the final push (last 1,000 feet or so), I started to slow down. I was exhausted (we had been hiking for almost 5 hours at this point) and starting to feel some altitude sickness despite trying to fend it off in the ways which usually work for me (lots of water, excedrin, a little Coke, making sure I eat) but I think my exhaustion from the past day and a half was finally setting in.

None of us made it to the summit for the actual sunrise - but oh, it was just as spectacular from where we were. I have never ever seen anything as pink as the sun this morning. It was absolutely worth hiking all night to see it come up over the mountains. Here is a picture from right before the sun rose, though it will never do the actual event justice. We all pretty much stopped trying to take pictures because nothing was coming close to what we were getting to see.

Just before the sun rose... it got a LOT more brilliantly pink after this, but I think we were all too enthralled to snap the pic...

After the sun was well over the horizon, we started upwards again. David and Chad made the summit easily, with no problems. I, however, got to within about 150-200 feet of it and realized that if I took one more step, I was going to throw up. So, I sat down, drank some water, and once I was feeling just slightly less queasy, stood up and started back down the mountain.

I'm pretty bummed that I got SO CLOSE and couldn't make it up the mountain... but I feel like I made the right decision in turning back. It would have been a MISERABLE day if I had pushed on and made myself sick. However, even without the summit, I had an awesome day on the mountain with my brother and his friend and saw a sunrise the likes of which I have never before seen.

We made it back down to the car just before noon, and headed back home... but not without stopping at SNOOZE for a well deserved feast. (Our waitress even sent us a free pancake when we told her what we had just done, hahaha.)

Lastly: To all of you out on Quandry with us today - you all were awesome! It was so nice to exchange high fives and "Good Mornings" and chat with some of you about our respective hikes! What a friendly group of people we had on the mountain today. Maybe some of you will read this... let me know if you do! =)

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Congrats on the night hike
08/29/2012 01:50
...and on having the sense to douse the headlamps now and then to enjoy the stars! Night climbing is super cool. We did this back in '07, on the night of the Perseid peak, and did make it to the top just before sunrise. You're right: the photos are only a pale imitation of what the eye sees!

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