Friday, October 10, 2008

From Wales to the West...

...the hike continues. Yes, I've returned to the homeland, but I'm still on the road and in the mountains. After attending a wedding in Denver, my wife and I headed west to stay with an old friend in Breckenridge, CO. A soft snowfall greeted our arrival but temperatures subsided the next day--thankfully, because we were woefully unprepared for winter weather.

With the glorious outdoors at our doorstep, a hike was irresistible. Just west of Breckenridge, the Tenmile Range stretches from north to south like a rocky spine, its vertebrae of east-west-oriented ridges growing ever larger, culminating in the 14,265-foot Quandary Peak. This was our target.

A short drive brought us to the trail head on the east side of the mountain, and despite a most unprofessional start time of 11:30, Carey, Peter, and I struck out in high spirits. The bright blue sky spread uninterrupted in all directions; visibility was crisp.

Before we knew it, we had reached the treeline. The views opened up, and the trail transformed from dirt path to rock pile. This Class-1 hike had us panting and straining, but after braving an encounter with a pair of mountain goats and gasping up the final ascent, we reached the narrow, snow-covered peak.

I've been hiking Colorado my entire life, but for some reason this was my first 14-er, as it was for both my companions. With plenty of daylight remaining, we took time to revel in the unrivaled panorama you only get by standing on top of the tallest mountain around. The wind was chilled but not fierce, the sun shining warmth, and in the hollow of a small rock cubby we ate the avocado and garlic-mayo bagel sandwiches we'd been looking forward to the whole way up.

Finally, it was time to retrace our 3,375 feet of vertical. All that downhill took its toll on our already-fatigued legs, but we made it back to the car just five hours after we'd started. One down, 50 to go.

1 comment:

Kathy Amen said...

The pictures make me wish I was still in Colorado! That sounds like a pretty strenuous hike for just 5 hours round trip--y'all must still be in good shape from the biking.