Hiking, Quandary Peak, Colorado, USA 

The standard route to the summit of Quandary Peak begins from the Quandary Trailhead, located just north of Hoosier Pass. To reach the trailhead drive 8 miles south on Colorado 9 from Breckenridge, or 14 miles north from Fairplay, and turn west onto Blue Lakes 850 Road. Drive a few hundred yards and turn right onto McCullough Gulch 851 Road, and then drive another tenth-of-a-mile to the small parking area next to the trailhead.

Quandary Peak is located in the White River National Forest, and is the only fourteener in the Tenmile Range. At 14,265 feet Quandary ranks as the 13th highest peak in Colorado. According to 14ers.com the peak’s name comes from a group of miners who were unable to identify a mineral sample found on its slopes in the 1860s. The group was in a “quandary” over the exact nature of the mineral, and ended up naming the mountain from where it originated.

Although it’s a relatively short hike, and has less elevation gain when compared to many other fourteeners, the trail still packs a punch. Much of the climbing occurs in two relatively short sections. One climbs 1300 feet over a 0.9-mile section, roughly midway through the hike, while the other climbs 1100 feet during the final 0.8-mile push to the top.

mountain-goatsOn our most recent hike up to Quandary Peak we came face to face with a family of mountain goats. We first saw them from a distance meandering around the pathway several hundred feet up-trail. This was near the saddle, just below the upper East Ridge, at roughly 13,000 feet. As we got closer, however, the goats didn’t move. In fact, the largest billy (male goat) decided to lay down on the trail just as we got close enough to look into his eyes.

You could say that we were “in a quandary” as to what to do next. We were just about to go off-trail and walk around the road block when we noticed a group of hikers approaching from behind. The sight of their dog provided the motivation for the goats to begin moving. Although they were walking again, they stayed on the trail and didn’t allow us to pass.

This went on for several minutes until another group of hikers approached from above and prompted the goats to move off the trail. We were finally able to pass safely, and got about a quarter-of-a-mile away from the goats when we decided to take a quick break. Since we were on a fairly narrow ridge, we were only a few yards off to the side of the trail at this point.

mountain-goatsAfter resting on a rock for a couple of minutes we noticed the goats were moving again. The large male, the same billy that blocked our progress earlier, was making a direct bee line toward us. I told my wife to get moving as quickly as possible. She was already proceeding up the trail before I was able to get my backpack together. I hurriedly moved out just as the goat got to within 75 feet of my location. It was the last time we saw the goats.

Visit USA. Epic USA Adventure Route © All Rights Reserved | Monika & Simon Newbound 2017

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