Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hiking a Colorado 14er

I've lived in Colorado nearly 5 years and I'm sad to say I've never hiked a Colorado 14er . Colorado has 54 peaks that are over 14,000 feet with Mount Elbert being the highest at 14,433 feet. I decided, when making my new years resolutions this past year that I would try to hike at least two a month during the summer which would hopefully mean I'd hike at least 6-10 depending how long the season lasts. I have done plenty of hikes in the flat irons but 14ers are a world apart. Most aren't even available to hike until late June depending on the snow melt and even then there will still be snow on the peaks. As you can imagine at 14,000 feet the air thins out a lot making it difficult to breathe and the terrain gets pretty rocky making for a good chance of twisting an ankle. Not only that but the conditions at the top can change so drastically you have to be ready for rain, hail, snow storms or anything the mountain throws at you.
Still, I'm determined to do it this summer as one of my main challenges and weekend activities. I know this means waking up at 5 am and driving up to hit the trail head early but I can manage. Given the fact there are so many peaks in Colorado to climb I started researching which ones were more geared toward beginners and which climbs were advanced. For Quandary Peak (14,265) the Summit County Explorer's website said, "if you're intrigued by the challenge of bagging a
fourteener and interested in experiencing oxygen deprivation, then this is the hike for you. Quandary Peak located south of Breckenridge will provide an exhilarating, lung-popping experience for all who conquer its summit.
" Well I like my lungs in my chest. So I've decided to start with Torrey's and Gray's Peaks. As you can see from the photo they are practically side by side which means I'll knock down two of the 54 in one long hike! Gray's is 14,270 feet making it the highest on the continental divide in the United States and Torrey's is 14,267.
(photo of Gray's peak) Now I'm not sure why, at 14,270 (about 5 more miles higher than Quandary) that Gray's isn't considered lung popping according to the website, but whatever. I am in good shape and so is my husband and our dog can definitely kick both our asses so I'm sure the three of us can handle the challenge. I know people train for these hikes and go all out with the fanny packs and leki poles and all that other fancy equipment but really for me the best way to do something is to just do it. I can't see how training would make this hike any easier and it's not like I'm going to die hiking (unless I fall off the cliff that is) so I might as well go for it. Besides it's only 8.5 miles round trip...piece of cake right?


  1. I can't wait! Let's start some day hikes in the Foothills. BTW Quandry being 5 miles higher then Grays.....thats a lot.

  2. On the Summit Explorer website it said that Quandary was 5 miles less high than Gray's but that it was a "lung popper" which makes me more scared of Quandary than Gray's even though Gray's is higher! I think this would be a nice day hike:
    it's called Lily Pad