| Father Dyer, Democrat, Sherman camping trip
My wife and I left St. Louis after work on Friday, and after a night in a Denver hotel and a morning around Denver/Silverthorne, we started our trip. Originally the plan was to hit Father Dyer, Sherman, Democrat, and Grays/Torreys, but with weather and timelines we decided to cross off Grays/Torreys...
Day 1: Hike into Crystal Lake Basin, Camp by Lower Crystal Lake
The Spruce Creek road was easily passable, but the Crystal Lake (Rte 803) was closed and gated, so we parked there and hiked 2.15 miles & about 1500 ft of elevation to Lower Crystal Lake (which was plenty!). The FYI, with the amount of snowmelt, the trail is pretty wet in places, and in one spot it is a mid-calf fast moving stream (on the way in we crossed on some very small downed trees, but on the way out we gaiter'ed up an went through it). The camping spot is really incredible, with great views in every direction, the lake, remains of a mining cabin, and a fast moving creek nearby. We didn't see a single other person the entire time there until we were hiking back out to our car 3 days later.
Our tent in near Lower Crystal Lake
A shot w Father Dyer and Crystal Peak while setting up the tent
Day 2 AM: Climb Father Dyer
The weather was just playing with us this day, so we started, stopped and turned around, started again, waited in a crevice for some rain to die down, then finally got going. By that time, it was probably about 11am.
My wife eyeing the east base of Father Dyer
We really enjoyed our first extended class 3 work -- my wife is a champ, and she did most of the route finding. We alternated staying on the ridge and going over many of the boulders and hanging slightly to the hiker's left to avoid some exposure. There are a few places that certainly necessitate narrow ledges and decent exposure, but we really enjoyed the experience. At one point in particular, there is a band of white rock that is about 15 feet up a very narrow notch with few hand/footholds, and not much to break a slip for a few hundred feet. It was the only location I thought that we might have been better off with ropes.
Father Dyer Ridge
Father Dyer Ridge
Father Dyer Ridge
Looong way down...
According to GPS, we were within .25 miles of the summit when the sky started to get dark. I told my wife I wanted to scramble ahead to look over a ridge about 100 yards ahead. I got there, poked my head up, and was BLASTED by a gust of sleet. I looked down and saw it hit my wife, and it almost knocked her over too! We decided to high-tail it back, since the wet rock was not something we were too excited about.
Weather beginning to sour...
Thankfully, we made it back no problem, and were met with an overly friendly marmot back at camp.
It rained/snowed/sleeted the rest of the day, so we spent most of the time in the tent...Alltogether, we went 2.2 miles and 1500+ ft elevation.
Day 3 AM: We hiked back down Crystal Lake road, and all the streams on the trail had grown significantly! We headed to Fairplay for some new powerbar flavors, then headed towards Mt. Sherman.
Trail back from Lower Crystal Lake
Trail back from Lower Crystal Lake -- time to put gaiters on...
Day 3 PM: Mt. Sherman was pretty standard. Not too much to report, but if you glissade off the ridge between Sherman and Sheridan (we did) make sure you stay to the west (towards Sherman) to avoid the cornice.
Peak of Sherman
After that, we headed to Kite Lake. The road was mostly easily passable (better than last year), with just one questionable large rut to get over. Halfway through setting up our tent, it started sleeting, then POURING. I finished guying the tent, then we sat in the SUV for an hour or so napping until the rain let up a bit. FYI, there was no TP in the men's or women's restroom. We brought our own for camping, but be prepared! Finally we were able to get to the tent and hit the sack...
Democrat from the Kite Lake TH
Cameron and Bross from our tent @ Kite Lake
Day 4 AM: Democrat We woke up and broke down the tent around 6, hitting the trail around 7:30 (after waiting for another rain/sleet storm to end). The hike was pretty uneventful (we had hiked Lincoln, Cameron, Bross previously but hadn't finished Democrat bc of of weather, so we were hoping to quickly hit it before leaving). Microspikes were definitely appreciated on the snow early in the morning, which was pretty icy. Later on in the day it got a little slushy, but we left the spikes on most of the time. Others have mentioned it, but on the final few ridges of Democrat, snow covers the trail so you're mostly scrambling through the rocks.
Staring up at Democrat's false peak from the Saddle
Route up to Cameron from the Saddle (we didn't go this way)
Routefinding due to snow on usual trail
Final stretch of snow on Democrat's ridge
Day 4 PM: We made our way to Silverthorne Rec center to shower ($7 with towel rental) and repack our luggage, then headed to the airport. Apparently we missed a tornado at the airport by about 2 hours! Eventually we made it back home.
All in all, it was just under 15 miles and 8000ft elevation in 4 days, which was a thoroughly fun and exhausting trip for a couple flatlanders. As usual, the website and forum were invaluable in planning the trip. Thanks!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):