| Democrat - 1st 14er
Heard from someone I met that access to Democrat, Lincoln and Bross was open, so I decided to take a crack at my first 14er. Snow still blocks the upper part of the road from Alma, so I would estimate around 1/2 mile additional hike each way just to reach the trail head.
Left the trailhead at 7:00 AM. Small amount of snow to negotiate before getting to the trail proper. First steep climb of the hike in from Kite lake is still covered in snow. It was relatively firm, this early in the morning – ankle deep.
Relatively straight forward hike up to the saddle and the split in the trail, where you either choose to climb Mount Democrat or hike in the other direction to Cameron, Lincoln, etc. Great views from here.
I chose to climb Mount Democrat. Probably not a good decision for a 1st time 14er. The trail up to Cameron was steep but free of snow. The trail to Democrat was covered in several places by fairly substantial snow fields, which required either a traverse or a slog straight up. After the first traverse, many hikers were choosing to scramble over rocks rather than switch back and repeat the traverse. I did this too. Walking sticks would have helped, as would gaiters (I had neither).
Next area of snow to cover below the summit was very firm and relatively easy to cover. By the time I reached the final slope, the snow had become very soft and before the trail became visible again, there was some post-holing up to the waist. Not really what I expected from my first 14er experience, but given the amount of snow this year, entirely predictable to the more experienced. Arrived at the summit at 11:00 AM.
Mountain goat just hanging out at the summit.
Given how much time I had taken to reach Democrat, I decided to take my 1st 14er and head back to the car. With this much (and now soft) snow, it was easy to glissade several sections. As a result, I got back to the trail head in 1 ¾ hours.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):