Quandary Peak 14,265 feet Sept 25, 2010

Probably the last time we'll hike a 14er this season since snow is already falling up there. 4:15 alarm clock, was turning onto I-25 south from Ft Collins at 5am. Very light traffic on I-25 and I-70 so we got to the trailhead about 7:30. None of the trip reports mentioned a bathroom at the trailhead so stopped at a gas station in Breckenridge for the usual Pepsi and Mountain Dew bottles to supplement our water bottles, and used the real bathrooms there. Easy to find the trailhead given several great updated descriptions including the usual wonderful description on 14ers.com It's 3400 feet elevation gain in about 3.3 miles so a steep hike. Made it in 3:45 up, 2:30 down.

After hiking Quandary, we drove down the road to Spruce Creek road to the trailhead there. We're hoping to join a group staying at Francie's Cabin this winter for a weekend of snowshoeing, and figured as long as we're in Breckenridge we'd see if we can hike up and check it out. From Spruce Creek trailhead it's a steep 1 mile or a gentler 2 mile hike up. The group of guys staying at the cabin were very nice and let us wander around and look at everything. They'd stayed there in winter too and gave us some good advice, like no dogs as you melt the local snow for water and don't want yellow snow :-) And had to get a picture of Quandary to the south as we hiked back to the car :-)

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  Bob and Sue on top of Quandary, looking north. Got to the trailhead about 7:30am and got a close spot - you can see the brown trailhead sign up on the left. When we got down around 2:30pm cars were parked nearly out to the paved road. Nice signs, I'd say you "couldn't miss this trailhead" except that the signs are facing AWAY from the road.. so yeah still easy to miss this trailhead. Actual trail starts about 100 feet up the road with just a small white arrow on a sign. First break in the trees, peak on left is North Star, a 13er. Woo-hoo Quandary is visible to our west!

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  Bob and Sue hiking up Quandary. Gorgeous ravine off to the left has two pretty lakes. Trail is well-built with lots of rock steps. Peak of Quandary off in the far distance. We have to go a ways west as well as up. Looking back east/southeast. Road snakes south to Hoosier pass. Trail gets steeper, we're still only around 11,000 feet in elevation (because there are still trees).

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  Looking south Looking south-west to the two lakes. Notice to the south, Lincoln/Democrat/Bross (14ers) are not visible yet above the ridge to the south. Still below treeline, warm and not windy so taking off another layer. Sue's down to short sleeves now, with Quandary on the right, lakes on the left. Quandary far off to the west. Notice on the right of the ridgeline, two people standing.

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  Now we know why they were just standing there - a mountain goat! Perspective of how close the people on the ridgeline were to the goat. Goat is perfectly happy grazing, unafraid. more hikers to the left of the goat, wanting a closer picture but not wanting to scare off the goat (trail is to their right). This goat is just totally used to humans. The two guys finally continue on the trail past the goat, goat watches us all but doesn't move.

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  WOW what a cutie. We stood and watched him (her?) for a while too. A little further up the trail switchbacks and we can see down to Hoosier pass in the background. In the foreground is the goat (at the bottom of the trees) with people on its left taking pictures. Further up the trail looking down at the goat (goat is just left of the three people on the trail) with two people on the right side of the trail. Hoosier pass in the distance. Marmot popped up. We got a little bit further up the trail closer to him, then he ducked away. He's about the size of a large rabbit.

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  Looking south-east to Hoosier pass, now terrain is visible beyond the pass. Looking north-east to the town of Breckenridge. Still a ways up to go, people visible on the saddle ahead. Looking down at the first lake in the ravine south of us. Second upper lake is still west of us. Tops of Lincoln/Democrat/Bross are just starting to be visible to the south now.

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  A couple cars are visible in the parking lot just below the near side of the dam. Trail goes up and west with lots of people ahead of us. This would be very cold on a windy day, we lucked out and had very little wind. Snow in the snady north-facing parts of the trail. We're above 13,000 feet now - gloves are on. But it's not windy enough to need a jacket yet. Sue hiking up Quandary

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  Sue loves her zip-off pants! _Finally_ bought a pair yesterday. More small patches of snow here and there. Looking north On the false summit that's been visible the whole hike, the real summit is only 100 feet away.

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  Bob on top of Quandary, looking north-west. Bob's foot next to a benchmark, Sue's shadow is visible :-) Close-up. Note the arrow pointing to the actual peak. Another kind of marker up here, for a death on the mountain. Looking south, Lincoln/Democrat/Bross clearly visible now with snow on their north sides.

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  Lunch time! Fresh peaches from Palisade, Colorado Fresh banana from the Carribean at sea level, to Colorado at 14,000 feet. Looking east. Yummy peaches! Lots of folks up here, about the same amount as on Grays/Torreys last weekend.

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  Looking straight down at the western lake of Blue Lakes in the ravine south of us. Bob on top of Quandary with Lincoln/Democrat/Bross 14ers to the south. The real top of Quandary mountain (remember the other marker had an arrow). Most of these have an elevation figure, this one says "Quandary" and "1961". Looking north-east to Breckenridge. From the left of Bob to about center of photo, in the farthest tree-covered mountains, are the ski runs of the back side of Keystone. Heading down to the saddle, a pair of mountain goats!

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  Sue's down closer to the goats, only one is really visible. Same pattern of patchy fur as the one we saw way down lower. Quandary Mountain seen from Francie's Cabin a couple miles north.

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