Peak(s):  Quandary Peak  -  14,272 feet
Mt. Democrat  -  14,154 feet
Mt. Cameron  -  14,248 feet
Mt. Lincoln  -  14,293 feet
Mt. Bross  -  14,178 feet
Mt. Sherman  -  14,043 feet
Date Posted:  09/20/2019
Modified:  07/07/2020
Date Climbed:   09/13/2019
Author:  JQDivide

Sometimes you have to do things just for the doing.

Morning horizon from Q's summit

I remember my first Fall Gathering. . . people were hiking peaks on both days. What the hell? Don’t they feel tired and sore like I do after the first day?

Sunrise from 13,800 on Quandary

I’ve always been impressed with hikers that can go for the FKTs or Nolans. At some point those people had to just give it a go to see what their bodies could do.

A couple years ago I hiked Bierstadt and Quandary on the same day. Did them both, but was very slow and had nice big break between them including breakfast in Fairplay. But still, I was impressed with myself. Over the years my speed and stamina have improved. I’m still usually the slowest person in any group I hike with. (If ScreeSurfer wasn’t such a nice guy, it would really be demoralizing to try to stay with him on a trail.)

Q from the highway going up Hoosier Pass

In 2018, the winter that wasn’t winter, I did Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn on the same day. That was my biggest day out ever. I felt it the next day. Ouch. But a day later, we were on the trail again.

Last year someone was talking about doing Quandary, the Decalibro and Sherman on the same day. That sounded like a doable challenge. To make it more interesting, I thought it would be even better to try to get both a sunrise and a sunset on that day. That made the timing important and set some parameters.

View from Democrat
Looking over at Quandary from Lincoln

I spoke with Brad and Ryan about it, they thought it would work. So just for fun, I invited a lot of people. . . and wouldn’t you know it. . .

The forecast sucked that day.

Looking back at Cam and Dem from Lincoln

Cancelled it. (And wouldn’t you know it, forecast was mostly wrong.)

I had an extremely awful week at the office and needed to get out. So, why not give it a try solo.


Was feeling in great shape. Spent a lot of time on the Manitou Incline this spring to get back in shape, even got below 40 minutes. Also ran my own personal beer-run half marathon the weekend before... had never run more than 6 miles before that. So, got up on a Saturday, ran 6-plus miles to the liquor store for a six pack of Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown and ran home. (Those last couple miles hurt, but felt pretty good the next day.)

I wonder if a tow truck will make it up for this one?

On Thursday night I slept at the Quandary trailhead. Was up and on the trail by 3:15-ish. The moon, nearly full, was up in the sky. I was making great time. So good, I had to stop and make myself slow down in order to catch the sunset up high. Spooked some goats in the dark and made the summit in 2h:50m. Which was still a bit quick. Waited on top for a while watching the horizon bloom, then started to head down. Passed four people on their way up and I caught the sunrise near 13,800. Spent some time eating and taking photos.

Democrat from that other one...

With the sun out, I was able to see all the rocks on the trail and made it down pretty quick. Total time on the peak was 4h:50m and was back to the TH just after 8 a.m. To my surprise the parking lot wasn’t even half full. Summer was over for sure.

I ate some pizza and hydrated. Changed pants, shoes and socks and drove over Hoosier Pass to Kite Lake.

The summit of Sherman

The Kite Lake parking lot was nearly full, but not completely. Found a spot and regrouped. Got snacks and water in the pack and headed up toward Democrat. The Loop would be the critical timing of this day. Had to get the Loop and be back to the car by 4 p.m. After doing Quandary, I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel and if my stamina would hold out.

White Ridge

Usually I tell people to go up Bross, but I wanted to get the harder part, the vertical, done first this day, Democrat and Cameron. Not sure that actually worked in my favor.

The summits from my journey earlier in the day
Shadows creeping toward Fairplay

I was on Democrat in under 2 hours. I had to double check my time because I didn’t believe it. After doing Q, I still made really good time. On the summit, I took some photos of a couple that were up there and chatted with them for a bit. Grab a snack. Knowing I had a time crunch, I was soon moving.

Down and up the saddle, I did a quick walk about to make sure I got the summit of Cameron, or at least I think I did. Then over to Lincoln in less than two hours. Three peaks in less than four hours. I was very pleased with my time. 45-ish minutes to Bross and I was heading down.

Sheridan and Horseshoe, orange in the sky, maybe from the Decker Fire?

Wow. Time, people, and erosion have hit the Bross trail hard. It used to be an OK trail. It’s pretty bad now. Going up it, probably is the best way to go. Going down scree with tired legs sucks. No wonder so many people complain about Bross. It’s still not that bad compared some peaks. Still wonder if I made the right call to hit Dem first.

I was back at the Suburban around 2:40 p.m. in about 5h:15m. Much better time than I thought it would take. Was guessing 6 to 7 hours.

Having spent most of the day at high altitude, I decided to get low quick and drove to Fairplay to eat lunch. Had food in the cooler so, just pulled over to rest, eat and text my wife.

White Ridge and the road to the TH

It took forever to drive to Fourmile Creek TH, that road is rough. Glad I had the extra time. Regrouped again, with food, water and extra layers in the pack. When I left the TH at 4:26 p.m., there was only one other vehicle.

I saw the owner just after the saddle, he was coming down from the summit. Spoke with him for several minutes. He too had hiked other peaks today, G&T. The wind was blowing like it always does on Sherman. From the saddle to nearly the summit, it was huffing and puffing.

I made the top in 2h:06m. I was shocked again. I couldn’t believe my time was still pretty quick even after the day I had.

Sunset and a goal met

I made sure to eat and drink well all day. I think staying fueled and hydrated helped keep my pace solid. Shortly after I arrived another hiker popped up and made his way to the summit. He too had hiked another peak this day, Pikes. Talked to him until he decided to leave before it got dark. (Him and his son were both finishers.)

I watched the sun begin to set and made my way along the summit ridge toward the saddle. I took several photos on the way down. A family was making their way up to watch the full moon from the summit. Just below the saddle I spooked a birthday party. They were up to watch the moon too, but didn’t want to hit the top. They offered me birthday cupcakes and whiskey. (I would have normally accepted, but my stomach was a bit off. Not sure if it was the elevation all day, the mileage, or my body just saying it was done for the day.)

Turquoise Lake

I was back to the TH by 8:20 p.m, just about 17 hours from when I started out this morning. Guestimating a 19-mile and 9,000-foot day, plus driving.

I wasn’t surprised I accomplished the goal. I was a bit surprised by some of my times. They are not times any serious mountain trail runner would consider good. But, they were good for me, especially as part of the long day.

From the S-S saddle

For several people, my day was nothing extraordinary, maybe not even worth mentioning. I remember people joking about doing a “Homie Day” when he was going for a FKT. My day probably won’t even be an honorable mention.

For other hikers, my day was be beyond belief based on their experiences.

It’s all perspective.

Enjoying the sky

Sometimes you just need to push your body a bit, see what it can really do. I have to believe most people can do pretty amazing things, if they just let their bodies do it and stop listening to what their brains are saying about it. Sure you might have to put in some training to get it done. But it’s doable.

So get out there and push yourself a little and you just might be surprised at what you’re capable of doing.

(And I wasn’t that sore on Saturday. Even hiked a few 13ers on Sunday.)

And a really bad photo of the full moon

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Well said!
09/21/2019 07:53
Good work.

Love this Story
09/21/2019 07:53
Well done sir! This resonates with me because the day before you did this I went and did Mt Whitney on my birthday, and my round trip was 12 hours 25 mins. Did it 10 years ago, but this time I was 2.5 hours faster. I couldn't believe how easy the effort was, even at 56 years old now. I think we should continue doing this. Again, very well done!

this is....
09/21/2019 11:03
a cool trip report.... with a perfectly tempered enthusiasm. appreciated!!

Nice work JQ
09/24/2019 06:10
Nice work Joel. I was bummed the weather didn't cooperate to join you for this 9/7, but really happy you gave it a go solo and got it done. You've trained hard this year - nice to see it pay off for you!

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