It’s a beautiful weekend in September, school has started for the year, and the mountain towns are beginning to feel sleepy. Yet on a beautiful Saturday, there’s one place that’s still very busy – 14,265-foot Quandary Peak on the White River National Forest. With 20,000-25,000 visits during the hiking season according to the Colorado Fourteener’s Initiative’s data, Quandary is one of the most visited peaks in Colorado.
A Saturday in September is no exception! And along with the staggering popularity, the mountain’s beloved trails are continually degraded from repeated use, leading to unwanted “social trails,” increased erosion, and damaged wildlife habitat in the alpine.
Luckily on this particular Saturday, something incredible is happening. Hardworking, enthusiastic volunteers, recruited by our partners Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC), Friends of the Dillon Ranger District and the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI), have converged to care for the degraded and loved-to-death trail to the summit of Quandary Peak.
With expert guidance from trail crew leaders at the CFI and VOC, the volunteers are hauling lumber up the mountain to build new trail structures, assisting with rock work, and putting in a full day of work at around 13,000 feet. Once the volunteers finish their work, the CFI crew will take over during the week to continue the technical and backbreaking work of “finishing” the 3-year Quandary Peak project this fall.
But is the work truly finished? And can we really say this is the “finish line”? As the number of hikers aiming for the summit of Quandary Peak continues to increase, we know that the trail will benefit for maintenance on a regular basis. Nonetheless, we are reaching a major milestone.
With our partners, we are proud to know that Quandary Peak will join the ranks of the most sustainable trails to 14ers in Colorado. After this field season – the finish line, for now – the trail will be more durable and sustainable for years to come. After three years of incredible work and thousands of volunteer hours, we are celebrating!
Thank you to our partners at REI for their support of this project!