Get any early start to avoid crowds on the trails/ summits. For those of us who don't particularly enjoy sharing the summit with 100 of our newest closest friends, getting an early start helped a lot on this hike.
We hit the trails at 430am on Sunday. It took us about an hour to reach the saddle from the Kite Lake TH (around 13,300 ft). We enjoyed a spectacular sunrise from the saddle, before climbing the last ~1000 ft to the summit of Democrat. We only saw 1 other person on the trail when we reached the summit, and we were joined about 15 minutes later by about 5 other people.
It was a gorgeous day. No wind. The trails had didn't seem to have a lot of people on them until 730-8 am. But even then, it wasn't nearly as busy as Saturday when I've done Grays and Torreys. However, our earlier start meant that we still beat most people to the other summits of Cameron and Lincoln.
We walked over towards Bross. There is a sign that is not far from the summit saying it is Private Land, but still quite a few people out that day trekked up to its summit anyway. We chatted up hikers Saturday afternoon and most said the route down from Bross (making it a nice loop hike) wasn't really fun. Apparently that section of trail has lots more loose rock and a scree field. Our group wasn't up for as some described "sketchier" and slow-going descent, so we hiked back from Bross, summited Cameron again and came down that way. It was nice to get to see things we missed in the dark, but it prolly added 500' or so and 2 miles to our trip. We had plenty of time to get down, so it was the best option for us. If you are a more experienced hiker, I'm sure the route down from Bross is not a big deal.
If you do the route I described and a slower on the descents (because of bad knees or ankles or whatever), it will prolly take you close to 9 hours. Others we had talked to that were quicker hikers and did the full loop said it took them about 7.
We had camped near the TH the night before (there are only 5 sites in the Kite Lake Campground, but another 8 or so lining the last stretch of road that are nice, aka have a fire pit and place for your tent). We arrived Saturday around 4 which was the perfect time to grab a good site that was roadside. By 6 or so it seemed like most of those campsites were claimed. At least 1/2 of the people seemed to pack of their tents and gear before hitting the trail, so getting their earlier shouldn't be a problem either.
Driving Info from Alma to Kite Lake:
I have a Dodge Neon and was able to make it up the road. A rough 2WD road is a good description for part of the road. The going was slow in my car. The last 1.5 miles or so of the road weren't great, but doable if you know where your tires are and are willing to jump out of your car a couple times to make sure you won't bottom out on the rougher sections. The earlier sections of the road great for a dirt road.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):