| My Very First Solo Mission!!!!!
I know there has been some discrepancy concerning trip reports and I know that these mountains I climbed are not considered technical crazy madness but to me every peak is special in its own way and has a story to be told by those who climb it. Each experience is personal to the individual and this was a really special day for me because it was my first solo journey! I have some good information to share which includes my wonderful experience with DeCaLiBro. So if you are so inclined please read on....if not there is a lovely little X in the regions above you that you can take 3 seconds to click on and =poof= my trip report will be gone.
If you read my trip reports you know that Andrew hurt his knee while we were on our road trip We have really grown to trust each other as climbing and hiking partners and it flat out stinks he may be out for some time. The thought of soloing Navajo Peak crossed my mind a few weeks ago but after deeper consideration I realized that you have to learn to crawl before you walk. I thought this group would be a really good way for me to test the solo waters. The pictures in this trip report won't be as spectacular, Andrew is the photographer. I have a point and click camera but I think you'll get the point.
It was last minute that I decided to tackle these five peaks. So last minute that it was around 6 p.m. while I was working on Saturday night. I got home around 10 p.m. and packed my bag, laid out my clothes, and studied up on the route. The 50% chance of thunderstorms after noon was well about as threatening as every other day I have climbed a mountain so per usual an early start was imperative.
My alarm went off in Lakewood at 3 a.m. and I popped right out of bed, blended my "green drink", mixed some vega pre workout powder crap in my water bottle, filled another water bottle with just water, took my vitamins, dressed myself and I was in my car pulling out of my apartment complex by 3:30 a.m. I plowed myself full of the various liquids I prepared at home as I ebbed and flowed down 285 towards Alma. It was dark and the only CD in my player was Green Days "Dookie" so I listened to that about 73 times. I was fully prepared to make the turn onto County Rd 8 (not 10) towards Kite Lake and I did not miss it, woooo hooo! Okay, Kite Lake Rd in my two door, bright red Honda Civic that sits 3 inches off of the ground in the pitch black of morning......kind of fun. The research I had done said the road gets ruff around 5 miles in. I kept a close watch on my mileage and parked exactly 5 miles up, not because I didn't think I could make it (I could have and so could any other car as long as the road is DRY) but because I wanted to tack on the extra 2 miles. I should also mention that I added 20 pounds worth of ankle weights to the bottom of my pack, on purpose....I was going big.
It was 6 a.m. on the dot by the time I had my pack strapped on and my hiking boots laced (thought I would try something new and check the time). I ran up the road to the trail head and continued running until the mountain started going straight up at which point I began power walking. It soon turned steep and loose and I reminded myself that steady wins the race. After calming my inner cowboy down I was able to find the sweet spot pace. It was so cold and windy and I had forgotten my gloves and hat at home. The trail up to Democrat is easy to follow minus the few times I got off route in the boulder fields. However, my super deductive powers of reasoning had me scan the area for cairns and I was always able to get back on track. You will eventually top out in the Democrat/Cameron saddle with two options, go right for Cameron or left for Democrat. Stay on the trail going up to Democrat, you may be tempted to take short cuts but this is a rather loose boulder field and I know you all love your ankles. Once you reach the false summit of Democrat it is a mere flat walk with a small amount of vertical gain to reach the actual summit. I made the summit at 7:18 a.m. (whoa look at me go, I even know the minute!).
Democrat In View.
Okay here we go again. No which wich bag!!!!!! However, this time I knew I didn't have one and the only way I could have attained one is by breaking into the store at 2:45 in the morning. It pains me to say I actually considered this option for a fleeting moment in time. There were two two-somes on the summit so I was able to get my picture taken. We talked for a while and I ate a peanut butter and mango jelly sandwich with my frozen hands. Mango jelly is gross with peanut butter, heed my warning and never try to get creative with jelly. Stick to the basics: strawberry and grape.
Summit Minus Which Wich ) :
View From Democrat.
At this point I was having an inner celebration about making the summit of my first solo 14er. The cowboy surfaced again and I ran down Mt. Democrat only slowing at the extremely steep loose spots. I think I made it back down to the Democrat/Cameron saddle in under 30 minutes. When you are coming off of Democrat make sure you spot the cairn farthest away to begin your descent off of the ridge. Again, it would be unpleasant to start descending too soon; loose boulders, we love our ankles.
Coming off of Democrat I now continued straight on to Cameron. At this point there were lots of people coming up Dem but only one younger couple headed over to Cam. The sun had finally came up and was now shining its bright rays of glory directly into my sunglass protected eyes. It was impossible to see making the trail harder to follow (otherwise this is an easy and obvious trail to follow). Even though Cameron is technically a false summit of Lincoln it is riddled with its own set of false summit. Several times I was looking to my right asking myself "Is this Cameron?" It is crystal clear when Cameron is reached it is big, flat and there is a small pile of rocks in the middle. Cameron is a neat-o summit with neat-o views. The couple (Melinda and Ben) and I had begun talking. They both worked as camp counselors in Colorado Springs for the summer and were going back to their home states of Washington and Oklahoma the following day. This was Melinda's first experience with the Colorado 14ers and Ben's second. I told them about the which wich bag and how sad I was that I yet again didn't have one when Ben looked down and pulled one out of the rocks and said, "Is this what it looks like?" I snagged it out of his hands and did some sort of weird jump, run, high-fiving the air dance. I must be doing something right in the universe.
Ascent up Cameron, Oh hello sun, please assault my face.
Ascent up Cameron looking back at Democrat.
Looking towards the summit of Cameron.
Cameron Summit, Happy!
Cameron Summit with Which wich bag, Ecstatic!
From the summit of Cameron you can look around and see everywhere you need to go and where you have come from. Next stop Mt. Lincoln. The trail from Cameron to Lincoln is very clear and easy to follow. It did not take long at all to make the summit of Lincoln, around 15 minutes (it was around 9:00 a.m. now). It is a smaller summit.
Looking onward to Lincolin's Summit.
Summit of Mt. Lincoln sans sign and which wich bag combo.
Here's to looking at you Quandry and other awesome 13ers like Pacific and Father Dyer.
From the summit of Lincoln you can see the "Y" split going to Mt. Bross. You must descend back to the Cameron/Lincoln saddle and take the left veering trail of the "Y" (this puts you on the Bross bypass trail). I had the 14ers route on my phone but I think I still managed to fudge getting to the summit of Bross the way that Bill describes. Disclaimer: the next few paragraphs are a figment of your imagination or a lucid dream, your choice. The events that took place over the next hour are more like a scene from the movie "Donnie Darko" rather than a real life occurrence.
On the way to Bross looking back at Lincoln.
Looking forward to Bross and South Bross
A view of Democrat.
I had every intention of going out to "South Bross" and had consulted several maps and my compass which broke because of the twenty pound ankle weights I put in my day pack. I reached Bross from the Cameron/Lincoln saddle very quickly. I never found the "S" gully where I should turn and jet up tagging Bross's summit and jet back down. The route I did take up appeared to be a 4WD road. Once up on Bross I exchanged picture snapping responsibilities with other criminals and we all reveled at a watermelon split in half. One half was gutted and filled with rocks and the other half was transformed into some poorly engineered boat. If anyone knows the story behind this one, please fill me in. My theory was an attempt at a sink or swim analogy.
Bross summit. Look in the right corner at the watermelon concoctions.
Let us all sail off this mountain on this watermelon boat.
Melinda and Ben decided to seize the moment and head over to "South Bross" with me. We quickly referenced my sweet topographic map to make sure we were heading for the right point. When you are on Bross looking around it can be a little deceiving where South Bross is. It is 0.6 miles to the South. You will walk over an area that I imagine Mars might resemble and you will see a pile of rocks in the far distance. That my friends is South Bross. We also noticed that if we came back from South Bross high and descend Bross's ridge we would intersect the bypass trail (this worked out very well).
Mars? Is that you? Heading toward South Bross (high point in the shadows left side).
Getting to South Bross was quick and we made our own sign using Melinda's pen and the back of the which wich bag. #5 for the day was a thrill.
Cause Ima criminal...(que eminem song)
And they are criminals (Melinda and Ben).
We headed back aiming high. This might be the trickiest (if you can call it that) part of the day. By means of a quick glance you can clearly see that this group of mountains especially the area in between Cameron and Bross is home of some deadly steep scree slopes that one would NOT want to find themselves on. The key is to NOT find yourself in one of those gullies. There is a clear trail coming off of Bross but we were coming from South Bross so we paid extra special care and took the time to make sure we were not going to cause any problems on this mountain. We found the ridge of Bross and descended it until it bisected with the bypass trail. As a whole coming off of Bross is ruff. It was the steepest and loosest part of the day but it is short in comparison to some of the other mountains I have descended off of. When descending Bross make sure to remain on the trail. I took notice of the gully Bill says turns "sour" and it really does. Once out of the gully arena where things begin to turn more green people veered right and began going off trail (taking a short cut) and in turn trampling one of the more beautiful areas located in this group. The trail turns left and goes down a couple of switch backs and plops you right out at a pretty waterfall. It may take a few extra minutes but it is worth preserving these slopes. We left Mt. Bross itself unscathed like good/bad samaritans (depending on how you view this controversial topic).
Coming back from South Bross. Bross is to the right in the shadow, Cameron is straight ahead, we looped around staying high and descended left.
A good view of the bypass trail. We followed a short section of the rocky semi-steep Bross ridge to intersect this trail.
IMO the faint trail across from the actual trail is too dangerous to use as a short cut. Stay on the bypass trail avoiding this gully.
Trail off of Bross.
One look back.
Waterfall picture trap.
It was 11:22 a.m. when I got back to the parking lot (look at that again down to the minute) and Kite Lake was booming with activity. It looked different, totally beautiful in the afternoon light so I followed a little trail and sat down by the lake enjoying the magical juices of my favorite beach plant. I reflected on all I had just accomplished alone and the interesting people that impacted my life for only a brief instant of time. I put my pack back on and ran to my car. I got back at noon on the dot, 5 mountains, 6 hours car to car exactly. Roughly, adding the 2 miles RT from my car and the 1.2 RT to South Bross I would say I clocked around 10.5 miles with 20 pounds of extra weight. I feel that reaching Democrat could be viewed as the most difficult section of this loop. However, I did it first and really zoomed up and down it. I would definitely do Democrat first and then follow suit with the loop. It is my opinion that ascending the slopes of Bross would be even more unpleasant than descending them.
Nectar of the gods.
The drive home was also beautiful. Things look pretty in the sun. 285 was a total zoo mess of RV's, trailers full of dirtbikes, boats, and of course the impatient driver somehow trying to outwit a line of traffic by passing in a no pass zone, cutting someone off, or riding the bumper of the person in front of them. If you are trying to get anywhere from the mountains to a major Colorado city on a Sunday afternoon just blast a mix of power punk and bad eighties hair metal (I was no longer concerned about the battery in my phone staying alive so I was able to play my itunes), role down your windows, let the wind blow through your hair, breath in that Colorado air, and totally embrace traffic. One more word of wisdom: I have never seen so many cops in my life as I did on 285, they were literally picking people off one by one. DON'T SPEED on this road it is not worth the ticket to get somewhere 10 minutes quicker.
There is something to be said about hiking with friends, loved ones, family, a stranger etc. etc. and there is something to be said about undergoing an adventure with only yourself as company and safety. There are so many distractions in life and getting to know yourself is one of the most intimate and priceless journeys to undergo. From the time my alarm went off to this moment I share these feelings this day was a day for me, just me, spent in my favorite place doing something I truly cherish.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):