To the top! Climbing Quandary Peak

Most Saturdays, you can find me running errands, reading, maybe going to a concert if I’m feeling real crazy.

Last Saturday was different.

Last Saturday, I climbed a mountain.

 

Grant and I were in Breckenridge, Colorado, with a group of friends for the weekend. We drove through the night Thursday, took it easy on Friday with maybe one-too-many brewery stops, and woke early on Saturday to head to Quandary Peak.

Quandary is a 14er, which is hiker-speak for a 14,000 ft mountain. The trailhead for the East Ridge trail, which is the “easy” option we picked, starts at 10,850 ft. The trail ends at the summit, at 14,265 ft. The hike up took about four hours (or three if you’re our friend Andy).

I said the trail was “easy” because — woo, boy! — this was the steepest, most difficult hike with tons of loose and slippery rocks. Grant has hiked a handful of 14ers, and we hiked Grey’s Peak together a few years ago. We agreed that Grey’s was hard, but it was nothing compared to this hike.

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Typically, I have a positive attitude. When I am running, I will literally chant “I think I can, I know I can, I think I can, I know I can” in my head.

But this hike was punishing. There were whole hours where the summit never looked like it was getting any closer.

At one point, I thought, “I have to turn around.” When we debriefed over dinner later that night, I found out that almost everyone in our group had thought the same thing.

I’m not trying to make this a metaphor for life, promise. But there is nothing more rewarding than proving to yourself that you can do The Hard Thing. All day long, we told each other “to the top!” as encouragement. As our chant. As our “I think I can, I know I can.”

Other motivating bits along the way? Snacks. Flat rocks that made perfect resting chairs. Meeting goats and their babies (and being terrified that the mom goats would gore us).

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And reaching the summit? The best feeling. The greatest feeling.

The summit was crowded with dozens of people that had also just reached the top, and the shared emotional state of exhausted elation was so apparent.

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After that euphoric moment, though, you have to come back down. You’ve already summited, you’ve already taken your summit siesta (a little snooze with your pack as a pillow), you’re hurting and hungry — but now you have to spend hours walking back down the mountain. This realization quickly stomps on the joy you’re feeling.

Climbing down is scary and no easier than climbing up. You’re not gasping for air as you gain elevation like you do while ascending, but your feet scramble to find purchase on slippery gravel, your toes jam into the fronts of your shoes, and you are SO TIRED.

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We started the walk down as a group, taking frequent breaks together, but about an hour from the bottom, I couldn’t wait anymore. I knew that if I sat down one more time, I would fall asleep on the side of that mountain. So I kept walking, and walking, and walking. At one point, I know that my eyes were closed. When I eventually found one of those forgiving flat rocks to collapse on in the parking lot, I couldn’t see straight.

I was so tired, in fact, that after I took my Fitbit off to see how far we’d hiked (11 miles, for the record), I just threw it on the ground. I didn’t even realize I had done this until we were back in town, on the way to get some hard-earned pizza. (Don’t worry, Grant drove me back to the trailhead, and it was exactly where I had left it.)

And that night, after I had showered, napped, and had a few glasses of wine, I could almost imagine doing it again. To the top!

Climb Mount Quandary, via thefruitfulblog.com

Caitlin

Caitlin

Hi, I’m Caitlin! Thanks for reading. If you're new, here's a little about me: I'm a writer, editor, eater, and reader living in the Kansas City area. When I'm not working my 9-to-5, I'm cooking without a recipe, exploring the city, and probably procrastinating. I start from scratch each morning: progress is way more important to me than perfection.

Connect with me on Instagram and Pinterest, and subscribe to The Fruitful Blog for tips on intentional living, meal planning, and more.
Caitlin

Author: Caitlin

Hi, I’m Caitlin! Thanks for reading. If you're new, here's a little about me: I'm a writer, editor, eater, and reader living in the Kansas City area. When I'm not working my 9-to-5, I'm cooking without a recipe, exploring the city, and probably procrastinating. I start from scratch each morning: progress is way more important to me than perfection. Connect with me on Instagram and Pinterest, and subscribe to The Fruitful Blog for tips on intentional living, meal planning, and more.

10 thoughts on “To the top! Climbing Quandary Peak”

  1. GET IT GURL! Looks like an incredible, rewarding, grueling, magnificent, awful, perfect day 🙂

    Drew and I talked about this during our backpacking trip the other weekend. Moments of it SUCKED. Hiking isn’t necessarily “fun”. I felt like I was carrying the world’s heaviest bag on my back. My feet hurt. My shoulders hurt. My back hurt. (Somehow my knees didn’t hurt!!!!). But that’s part of what makes hiking so incredible. Pushing your body farther than you think you can go. And being rewarded by some awesome views.

  2. Oh man, I so get this feeling. Last weekend I did the longest hike I’ve ever done – 12.5 miles and a 2,400 ft climb in Rocky Mountain National Park. We didn’t even get to enjoy the summit because a storm hit and we got caught in freezing cold rain right as we got there! My feet have never been so sore! There was all the pizza and all the beer when we finally got back down.

  3. I love this! I have super bad asthma so even hikes that other people think are simple are a true challenge for me. When I was in Scotland my friends and I decided to take the trip up to Arthur’s Seat, which to most is an easy trek. For me, I struggled a bit, but made it to the top and without needing to use my inhaler!!! Naturally, we took a 15 minute photo shoot on the top to showcase our triumph before beginning the journey back home.

    It’s so cool to see what a combination of a sound body and a committed mind can do! Thanks for sharing!

    xoxo
    Grady

    http://www.gradybirdblog.com

  4. This is AWESOME!!! Thanks for “taking me with you” on the hike. I would love to do something like that. Colorado is breathtakingly beautiful. So glad you guys are going and enjoying!!! Love you!

  5. This looks amazing! The only real hiking I have done was halfway down the Grand Canyon. I was exhausted, cranky, and came back to the hotel with a migraine. But I’m so glad I did it.

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