| 3+2 in the Mosquito Range
This week's climb began with the standard COS rendezvous at my house at 0430 with a departure by 0445 and the now-standard drive along Hwy 24 across South Park. We arrived at the Kite Lake Trailhead dead-on 0630 and had no trouble at all with the dirt road access, though there were some pretty deep, but avoidable ruts caused by recent rains.
Here's a short rant: to all of the people that park just barely outside the fee parking area to save the $3... REALLY? You hike the mountains, you use the toilets, you drive up the road, and you can't part with less-than-a-latte to help cover the costs of upkeep? I really wish they'd move the fee area back down the road about a half-mile to that if you're going to cheap out, you at least have to walk another half hour or so.
Anyway, the main parking lot was about 3/4 full when we arrived. Conditions were near perfect with a few high clouds, temps probably already in the upper 40s or low 50s, and calm winds. The sun was catching the mountaintops above us. Our group of seven included one flatlander who'd done Elbert with us about a year ago and a rookie doing his first whilst in training for the Chicago Marathon.
We started up the trail at 0655 along with a few other groups and quickly passed two of those, including a large group of about 15 Boy Scouts and leaders. The trail is in very good shape all of the way up Democrat and with such good conditions we were amazed to make it to the saddle between Democrat and Cameron within about 55 minutes. Our group was moving well together and enjoying the conditions that just seemed to get better. As expected the view north from the saddle was excellent on this clear day.
The trail and going was great up the spine of the false summit of Democrat and before we knew it we were on the plain between the two, surprised to still see the small snowfield there that is usually gone in most years by mid-July. The first members of our team summited by 0820 (85 mins to the top) and everyone was up there within 100 mins from trailhead. Once there we took the obligatory photos of the groups and surroundings and I promised photos for a couple of groups, including the Boy Scouts. Just send me a PM and I’ll send the JPEGs, or you can go to my photo site and get what you want. (link below)
We made our way down to the saddle passing many more groups on their way up and then headed for Cameron. The group strung out a little bit at this point, so two of us decided to press on. We made it to Cameron by 1010, after leaving Democrat at 0900 and took just a few shots of the scenery and others. We pressed on quickly to Lincoln and were rejoining small groups that we’d seen along the way. We summitted by 1030 and again posed and shot.
By now a few more serious clouds were starting to form, so we decided that we should make our way to Bross. On our way down, we met up with the others in our group, themselves only about 10 minutes from summitting Lincoln. They told me that one had turned back and that we’d meet him at the trailhead later in the day. As my hiking buddy and I made our way to Bross, we looked back and got some photos of the Boy Scouts and our group in the distance atop Lincoln. As I approached the broad plain that it Bross, I ran into our lone hiker that we’d thought was on his way down. In fact, he’d decided to just skip Lincoln and go directly to Bross. We had our second beer somewhere on the Bross summit and checked the clouds again. No rumbles yet, but it was clear that conditions would be deteriorating from here. We figured that with the others behind us we might have time to check the block and run over to South Bross, so we did that and then searched for a good path to scree-surf down the southern side of the ravine towards the main trail heading down from Bross and had little trouble doing that. We picked up some raindrops as we came down and heard one distant rumble of thunder, but by now we were well below 13,500 feet and not worried. We could see others coming down from Bross on the opposite side of the ravine, too, and joined up with them by some signage where we took a break to remove the pounds of stones and dirt from our shoes. The rest of the descent was uneventful and easy thanks to some excellent trail construction and maintenance. The waterfalls and stream coming out of the last remaining bits of snow in the ravine, and fed by recent rains and water flowing through the scree made for a nice conclusion to the hike.
The rest of our group coming from Bross and the other side of the ravine joined us at the trailhead about 10 minutes later and we swapped shoes and hydrated. A couple of us decided to take a quick, refreshing dip in Kite Lake, too, before we left for the day. All in all, a very enjoyable hike with amiable fellow hikers along the trail, gorgeous weather, excellent company, flowers, etc. We completed the entire circuit in almost exactly six hours including stops, photos, etc.
The link to all of my photos on the trip are HERE.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):