Though the world may not know much about it except for the place you go to for skiing, Colorado, does have a tourist season during the summer. The mountains are still a fun place to go to, and there are many things to do in the small towns there. One of the things that many people try to check off of their lists is to summit one of the 58 14ers that the state boasts about. A 14er, is a mountain peak that reaches over 14,000 feet above sea level. It is way above timberline, and the air gets pretty thin up there, so it is quite an accomplishment to make it up one of these mountains, and it is even a bigger challenge if you can do it when you come from sea level before you do it because there is always the danger of altitude sickness that can make the hike a challenge to get over. I wanted to add to the challenge so I decided to take on one of these peaks a day after I arrived from Europe, so I was living in a different time zone and my mind was trying to get over jet lag when I tried this.
It is important to take on one of these peaks early in the morning because Colorado has a tendency to afternoon thunderstorms, and you don’t want to be up on top of a peak without any cover where lightning has a shorter distance to strike the tallest object, you. It also gets pretty crowded on some of the peaks during the day because of the tourists try to tie this into their vacation. Quandary Peak, the mountain I took on, is one of the busier ones. It is only a few miles outside of the popular town of Breckenridge, and it is one of the easier mountains to summit, so this is the one that many people take on. I had gotten there at 5:45 in the morning and it was already packed with people. Even though some people might complain about these crowds, it didn’t bother me much because I had just experienced some of the crowds in Europe and they were nothing like the one I had on this day.
The cool thing about the hike is you can see the summit most of the way up. It is not like some of the other peaks where the top hides behind false summits, disappointing you sometimes when you thought you had made it to the top but in reality you still had a ways to go. It also has a pretty well maintained all the way up to the top as opposed to other mountains where the trail disappears to a field of rocks that can add to the challenge because they are not always secured and you might have to dodge a rock rolling down the hill from someone up above you from time to time.
It is also still had small snow fields near the top even though it was the middle of July. I have been told that these snow fields are small this year because it has been a dry year for Colorado, but it was fun to see snow during this time of the year. I have attempted this mountain at a different time of the year, May, and this spot was covered in snow, and I couldn’t summit because I got caught in the middle of a blizzard when I made it to this point in the hike. But this time, the weather was perfect, and I even wished I had worn shorts because I was getting a little hot when I made it to this point of the hike.
The best part of the hike was when I got to the top. I was able to stand on the edge of a precipice and look out over the Rocky Mountains and could even point out the two other 14ers that I had summited the summer before. I got to get to know my hiking partners a little better, had wonderful conversations with other hikers taking on the challenge from other parts of the world, and earned a sense of accomplishment on a day that I would usually have spent trying to figure out a way to get over jet lag.
It is a great way to spend a day in Colorado, and it is one of the things that made this part of my trip around the world great. It is funny that I had to move away before I attempted to reach the top of these mountains, but it is the way of the world. We don’t really appreciate the things we have in the places we live until we no longer have them at our disposal. That is one of the things that this trip is teaching me. Appreciate everything that I can while I am there to appreciate it.