Peak(s):  Fletcher Mountain  -  13,951 feet
Date Posted:  08/11/2020
Date Climbed:   07/19/2020
Author:  rob runkle
 Tougher than it should have been   

The kids and I decided to drive to Colorado (from Ohio) this year, for our yearly 14er trip. We started the 20+ hour drive on Friday night, and ultimately arrived in Colorado late afternoon on Saturday. We didn't drive straight through. We stopped at a rest stop around halfway to sleep. Initially I wasn't sure how long it would take, and how we would feel after such a long drive. So, I wasn't planning on hiking on Sunday. But, as we got closer, it seemed like we were making great time, and honestly, we were feeling pretty rested. I mentioned to the kids about maybe doing a 13er on Sunday, as a warm-up. They were agreeable to the idea. So, we set the GPS to arrive at the Blue Lakes Trail Head, so that we could attempt Fletcher on Sunday. We arrived at the trail head around 8 pm at night. We decided to just sleep in the car, at the trail head. As we tucked into bed, Nolan was feeling a bit rough, from the elevation. Sleeping at 11,700 ft upon arrival in Colorado - first day - was definitely a concern. After some water and a few puffs of the inhaler, Nolan felt good enough to sleep. He didn't have any additional issues with elevation the rest of the trip.

Goats at the trailhead

Goats at the Trailhead

Nolan delayering, near the lake

Pika, just as we got started

Headin up towards the basin; snowfields along the saddle

Creek crossing in the basin

We woke up around 5:30 am, ate and got started around 6 am. In theory, Fletcher should have been an easy, warm-up day. I was actually hoping to connect with "Drift Peak" also, and give the kids a bit of class 3 scrambling. For various reasons, it did not turn out to be an "Easy Day." The hike started off easy, the trail begins at the North side of the dam fencing. It climbs pretty quickly to get high above the lake. Then, the trail gradually climbs, along the base of Fourteener, Quandary Peak. Everyone felt pretty good for the first mile or so. As the trail climbs into the basin, it becomes more difficult to follow a clear path. From the basin, we should have taken a direct route, straight towards Fletcher. But, there were some large snowfields towards the saddle that I wanted to try to avoid. So, instead we took a hard right, up the lower slopes of the Quandary West Ridge route. This ended up being a lot more worked than it looked like it would from below. The route up the slopes was loose and frustrating. At no point was it dangerous, but it was definitely exhausting. By the time we made it to the saddle, the kids were complaining pretty loudly and were very tired. I think the off route ascent was hard on them; on top of being out first day at elevation.

Anna and Nolan with Fletcher in the background

Nolan scrambling

Anna heading up the slopes

Nolan at the top of the loose scramble

Shot back at Quandary, as we tackle the last bit to the summit

Sketchy section at the top; drop off to the kids right is no joke

Summit Selfie

The rest of the hike to the summit was pretty easy. If the slope scramble has not been so challenging, I think that the kids would have rocketed to the top. They were dragging a bit as we approached the summit. We reached the summit is just over 4 hours (~ 3 miles). At this point, it was 10 am, and the skies were not looking friendly. There were some rain clouds in the area, and we even saw lightning in the distance. We spent 10 minutes on top, then started back towards the trail head. During the descent, Anna's feet were hurting badly. This was the third year using the same hiking shoes, and they were probably a half size small at this point. She complained about here toes getting slamming, during the downhill. We moved as fast as we could during the descent. The top section was pretty rocky, and really hurt Anna's feet. I really wanted to get off of the rocks - and onto dirt trail - before the rain started. Eventually we made it back down onto a more solid trail, and into the basin. The walk down the basin, and along the lake was long, but much easier than the rocks. We descended from the summit, back to the car in about 2.5 hours. Our next destination would be Buena Vista, and new shoes for Anna.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Classic Suffer Shot
08/11/2020 12:42
Pic#10 - I've felt this before...

Good day and photos

Enjoyed this
08/11/2020 13:37
As a father of twin 15 year olds, I can relate. Good for you for getting your beautiful kids out, great for them for sticking with it!

Excellent report
08/11/2020 22:35
How wonderful to see families having so much fun in the Colorado mountains.

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