Perseid meteors on Quandary Peak
(Night hike at the new moon)

11 Aug 2007 - by Patrick Lilly

I'd wanted to do this for a long time: climb a 14er at night for the peak of the Perseid meteor shower (11 or 12 August every year). The actual peak this year was the 12th, but that date wasn't available. As it turns out, the weather wasn't as clear on the 12th, so, on balance, we did the best we could have.

We left Colo. Spgs. about 10:30 pm MDT Friday night, and got to the TH, less than mile off of Colorado 9, just north of the summit of Hoosier Pass, around 1 am. Horton, the famous Quandary dog, met us and stayed with us for the whole trip(!). We mistakenly hiked north on the road (Summit Co. 851) before turning left up the second trail segment which leads to the ridge. (Hell, it had been 13 years since I'd been there!) In addition to the extra distance, this slowed up down some since this trail isn't as well marked as the main one. I don't know how much time this added to our trip, but it probably wasn't really much.

We soon regained the main trail, which crosses over to the south side of the ridge below timberline, then goes through three switchbacks on the south side before hitting the ridge crest. From there, we just followed the well-worn trail, mainly right on the ridge crest, by headlamps. The sky was inky black and clear, and we enjoyed many meteors both while moving and whenever we stopped for a rest. The temperature was mild, probably no lower than upper 30s, and there was virtually no wind. We had no problem staying warm in a couple of layers of clothing each.

Around 13,000 ft., two young guys overtook us on their way up. They were the only other people we saw until after we started back down. Somewhere around there, too, we was the old crescent moon just above the eastern horizon. It was a fantastic sight, very thin, and with the unlit portion clearly illuminated in reflected Earthlight.

We got to the summit before sunrise, but, unfortunately, not before dawn. Trisha and I had brought sleeping bags in hopes of being able to veg out for a while, doing nothing but gazing up at the sky. Through a miscommunication, Jim had not brought his, and did some ridge running near the summit to keep warm.

We did pause to enjoy the sunrise on the summit--a first for all of us!--and I crawled into my bag, propped up against the windbreak, for a while to do nothing in the morning chill.

After sunrise, we took a few pictures, replaced the full register (in just 10 days!!), and started down. Naturally, we met scores of people going up as we descended. We made it back to the TH in just about two and a half hours. This was Trisha's 29th 14er, and a repeat of my first one.

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