This summer, I am excited to say Ben & I successfully hiked our first 14-er!! A true Coloradoan right of passage! We took our gospel community group up to the cabin for a retreat in July & 5 of us decided to take on Mount Quandary near Breckenridge, CO. 

Our crew consisted of Ben [my husband], Jack, Anna, Christi, & myself. We woke up on time [which is a big feat for this group, let me tell ya!], made coffee, ate breakfast, finished packing our packs, & were out the door only 5 minutes behind schedule! That is a win if you ask me. Our goal was to leave the cabin by 4:40 AM. We expected the drive to take us about 15-20 minutes. We had some slight GPS problems, aka we would rather follow Google Maps than take the signs that read "Mount Quandary Trailhead" at face value.

We made it to the trailhead at about 5:40 AM and began our trek. To give you some background on our experience level, Jack hiked Mount Quandary sometime in the last decade and told us that 1) If we were to get lost we had bigger fish to fry and 2) it was the "easiest" 14-er in Colorado [Anytime someone uses the words "easy" and 14-er in the same sentence is crazy!]. Anna hiked another 14-er like 4 years ago before she moved to Denver & also claimed it was pretty easy. Ben, Christi, & myself had NO previous 14-er experience. whatsoever. To sum it up - this is no group of professional hikers! 

The first quarter mile or so is quite steep. We got to a stopping point and I am like what? I thought this was "easy"!! I had noo idea what lay ahead of us. Our first 1.5 hours or so consisted of hiking in the treeline, taking layers on and off, taking pictures of the sunrise, laughing, talking, & eating snacks. 

Quandary - Sunrise
Quandary - Sunrise 2
Quandary - Group
Quandary - Girls
Quandary - Ben Morning
Quandary - Anna Morning
Quandary - Ben + Sun

We hit the top of the treeline and everything changed. We went from dirt & soft ground in the trees to all ROCKS. Loose rocks. Boulders. Everyone talked less & stopped more to catch our breathe. We eventually reached a certain point where the girls broke away from the boys and forged on. We were convinced we had some good momentum going and wanted to keep that up. Above the treeline there are several mountain goats that roam.  This provided some welcome distraction!

Quandary - Goats

So one thing to know about Mount Quandary is that there is mini peak that seems like it is the summit, but its not. My heart dropped when we realized that there was a whole other mountain to climb to reach the summit! See picture below. I was like "You want me to climb that? The snow capped mountain? You must have lost your mind!"

Quandary - Summit

This is where Anna and I decided that we were going to keep our own paces so that we wouldn't lose steam and give up. At some point on this last 2.5 miles, I started asking every single person coming down the mountain how much further I had. I had a variety of responses {One person would tell me I needed to stop focusing on how much further, its not that hard, & I should pick up the pace #rude and had one person encourage me and tell me exactly what the last part of the climb would be like and that I could do it!} but mostly encouraging responses. There were a few people on the climb that I would like to point out:

  • A kid, yes an 8-10 year old kid, passed me on the way up and then was coming down the mountain right as I was about to summit. Yeah - that will make you feel really good.
  • One guy was rogging (run-jogging) up the mountain..with no shoes on..yep that is right just barefooted.
  • There was a guy maybe in his mid 40s (the positive encourager I previously mentioned) who summit-ed in 2.5 hours - which is 30 minute miles! That is really hard to do. He seemed not even phased by the physical exertion!

Somehow, someway Anna, Ben, & I all made it to the summit of Mount Quandary! We were ecstatic. As we all trickled in, we could not stop talking about how hard it was & just completely in awe of the views & our accomplishment. It took me 4 hours to summit.

Quandary Summit - Chelsea
Quandary Summit - Anna
Quandary Summit - Ben
Quandary Summit - Anna + Chels
Quandary Summit - View
Ben + Chels at Summit
  • God's Plan to Cross Paths: We are at the summit when someone yells "Chelsea Garner!" Anyone who calls me by my maiden name, probably knew me from Texas or Georgia so I know its someone that I am not expecting at all! I yell "Who is that?!" and come to find out it is one of my community group girls from Watermark in Fort Worth, Texas!! There were four of us who were in community together for a year. During this time span we all got engaged & married. This was such a sweet, sweet season and I am forever grateful for these girls and how God orchestrated putting us altogether in a time where we really needed each other. I am still shocked that I saw Emily at the top of Mount Quandary!

On the way down you would think that it would be easier but it brings on a whole other set of difficulties. Your toes jam up against your shoes over and over again & your knees really start to hurt. Stay tuned for a future post about our 14-er tips! We wrote these down in our cabin log book and I think they are great tips to share! 

Quandary - View on the way down
Quandary - Clouds

There is something about being in nature and truly taking in God's beautiful creation that is almost indescribable. I never knew I would be one of those people that felt so close to God while surrounded with trees, blue skies, high elevation, & so many rocks! But there is just something about the wilderness that brings you to your knees and lets you know that you are so so small compared to God. That might sound scary but it is so comforting. I don't have to have it all figured out. But over the last few months of living in Colorado, I am seeing God's beauty all around me in a new light. This is not just in his creation of mountains, clear blue skies, clouds that cannot be real but also the beauty in community, friendship, and marriage. I am so thankful, so so thankful for this life.

Shout it from the mountains!