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Quandary Peak
August 22, 2009
Arapaho National Forest
Starting Elevation: 10,920 feet
Highest Elevation: 14,265 feet
Distance (round trip): 6 1/2 miles
click on each photo to view a larger image

To get to the trailhead for Quandary Peak, it is easiest if you begin in Breckenridge. About 8 miles south of the center of town on US 9, just after completing the first several of many switchbacks you will see on your right an all-weather (gravel) road - 850 Road. This is the road that follows Monte Christo Creek up to Blue Lakes. You need to make this right turn off of the pavement, however don't go too far - less than one-tenth of a mile you will need to take another right on 851 Road. The new trailhead for Quandary is only a couple of hundred yards up this road. Be sure to get there early to secure a parking spot, or else you'll be parking back down on 850 Road.

The parking lot near the trailhead. The parking lot near the trailhead.
The actual trailhead to Quandary. The actual trailhead to Quandary.
Up and into the woods. Up and into the woods.
Further along the trail. Further along the trail.
Through a small clearing. Through a small clearing.
The trail crosses a slope. The trail crosses a slope.
That's North Star Mountain (elev. 13,4XX feet) just south of Quandary. That's North Star Mountain (elev. 13,4XX feet) just south of Quandary.
And there's our destination - Quandary Peak.  Notice the long shadows from the early morning start time. And there's our destination - Quandary Peak. Notice the long shadows from the early morning start time.
Another shot of North Star Mountain with the summit of Mount Lincoln barely visible over its shoulder. Another shot of North Star Mountain with the summit of Mount Lincoln barely visible over its shoulder.
Follow the signs to stay on the trail. Follow the signs to stay on the trail.
Seriously, stay on the trail. Seriously, stay on the trail.
Now we're getting high enough that the trees are starting to thin out a bit. Now we're getting high enough that the trees are starting to thin out a bit.
For most of the rest of this hike, the trail is rocky.  Off in the distance to the west-southwest is Wheeler Mountain (elevation 13,690 feet). For most of the rest of this hike, the trail is rocky. Off in the distance to the west-southwest is Wheeler Mountain (elevation 13,690 feet).
Coming around the south side, we can once again see our destination. Coming around the south side, we can once again see our destination.
Now above the tree line, I can see I am not alone. Now above the tree line, I can see I am not alone.
Heading higher on the trail, there are even more people! Heading higher on the trail, there are even more people!
Coming up to the one relatively flat spot along the ridge about 2.3 miles in to the hike at an elevation of 13,146 feet.  There's just under a mile more to the summit. Coming up to the one relatively flat spot along the ridge about 2.3 miles in to the hike at an elevation of 13,146 feet. There's just under a mile more to the summit.
This short flat is barely long enough for you to catch your breath. This short flat is barely long enough for you to catch your breath.
The trail continues up through the rocks.  No - that's not the summit. The trail continues up through the rocks. No - that's not the summit.
More rocky trail up towards the summit.  Notice there are people already coming down.  They must have started before sunrise. More rocky trail up towards the summit. Notice there are people already coming down. They must have started before sunrise.
Almost to the top!  Can you see the trail? Almost to the top! Can you see the trail?
That is Pacific Peak just to the northwest.  Notice the small, unnamed lake just below its' summit behind the ridge.  The unnamed lake prominent in this image sits at an elevation of 12,695 feet. That is Pacific Peak just to the northwest. Notice the small, unnamed lake just below its' summit behind the ridge. The unnamed lake prominent in this image sits at an elevation of 12,695 feet.
Looking almost directly south, from left to right you can see Mount Bross, Mount Lincoln and Mount Democrat.  In the foreground is North Star Mountain again. Looking almost directly south, from left to right you can see Mount Bross, Mount Lincoln and Mount Democrat. In the foreground is North Star Mountain again.
The prominent peak in the distance is Mount of the Holy Cross (elevation 14,005 feet) about 20 miles and a few degrees north of west. The prominent peak in the distance is Mount of the Holy Cross (elevation 14,005 feet) about 20 miles and a few degrees north of west.
Southwest beyond the ridge of North Star Mountain in the foreground is, from left to right, the shoulder of Mount Democrat, Mount Buckskin, a distant Treasurevault Mountain, no-name summit (at 13,672 feet), and Mount Arkansas (elevation 13,795 feet).  Beyond that is the town of Leadville, Colorado and the line of peaks making up the horizon includes from right to left, Mount Massive, Mount Elbert, La Plata Peak and other mountains in the Collegiate Peaks Range. Southwest beyond the ridge of North Star Mountain in the foreground is, from left to right, the shoulder of Mount Democrat, Mount Buckskin, a distant Treasurevault Mountain, no-name summit (at 13,672 feet), and Mount Arkansas (elevation 13,795 feet). Beyond that is the town of Leadville, Colorado and the line of peaks making up the horizon includes from right to left, Mount Massive, Mount Elbert, La Plata Peak and other mountains in the Collegiate Peaks Range.
Still looking soutwest, that's Mount Arkansas (elevation 13,795 feet) in the center of the photo with Mount Elbert on the horizon to the right and La Plata Peak on the horizon to the left. Still looking soutwest, that's Mount Arkansas (elevation 13,795 feet) in the center of the photo with Mount Elbert on the horizon to the right and La Plata Peak on the horizon to the left.
From left to right, a closer shot of Mount Buckskin, a distant Treasurevault Mountain, no-name summit (at 13,672 feet).  On the horizon is La Plata Peak to the right, and other mountains in the Collegiate Peaks Range to the left. From left to right, a closer shot of Mount Buckskin, a distant Treasurevault Mountain, no-name summit (at 13,672 feet). On the horizon is La Plata Peak to the right, and other mountains in the Collegiate Peaks Range to the left.
It's kind of crowded here on the summit.  Notice people putting on additional clothes to stay warm in the stiff wind. It's kind of crowded here on the summit. Notice people putting on additional clothes to stay warm in the stiff wind.
Looking southeast it's easy to find the road heading up to Hoosier Pass.  Those other roads are subdivision roads and there are houses and cabins throughout.  The distant peak in the middle of the photo is Mount Silverheels (elevation 13,822 feet). Looking southeast it's easy to find the road heading up to Hoosier Pass. Those other roads are subdivision roads and there are houses and cabins throughout. The distant peak in the middle of the photo is Mount Silverheels (elevation 13,822 feet).
I think that's Mount Helen (elevation 13,164 feet) and the Williams Fork Mountains in the distance beyond the towns of Dillon and Silverthorne. I think that's Mount Helen (elevation 13,164 feet) and the Williams Fork Mountains in the distance beyond the towns of Dillon and Silverthorne.
The lake down low is called Goose Pasture Tarn.  Off in the distance, from left to right, are Grays Peak and Torreys Peak, Mount Parnassus, and Pettingell Peak. The lake down low is called Goose Pasture Tarn. Off in the distance, from left to right, are Grays Peak and Torreys Peak, Mount Parnassus, and Pettingell Peak.
Looking down from the summit to the south you can see the larger of the Blue Lakes along Monte Chriso Creek. Looking down from the summit to the south you can see the larger of the Blue Lakes along Monte Chriso Creek.
Time to head back down through the crowds still coming up. Time to head back down through the crowds still coming up.
Look at all of the people still coming up! Look at all of the people still coming up!
One last look at the summit from below. One last look at the summit from below.
Along on this hike with me: no one.


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