| DeCaLiBron: More fun than it looks
NOTE: If you take your husband to climb these peaks for his birthday he will be forever grateful!
Climbers: Hoag and Hoag's wife, Julie
We arrived at the Kite Lake camp ground around 2pm the day before we climbed. Getting there early was a good idea because the campsites filled up super quick.
Our little site right next to the lake
Jackson doing what he does best....sleeping
Messing with the camera while Julie napped
We set up camp, gathered fire wood and just relaxed for a few hours. It was a beautiful day! We immediately made friends with those who were camping next to us and shared food and drinks with one another. For pictures of and directions for the spectacular food we ate visit nathanhoag.com
Tip of our tent with the false summit of Democrat in the background
Enjoying some delicious corn on the cob
My birthday cake: Camp Fire Pineapple Upside Down Cake. The greatest dessert to ever grace my mouth. Recipe at nathanhoag.com
Jackson again. Sleeping again.
We were up and out of the tent at 4:45am with the goal of hitting the trail by 5. After we made sure our dog Jackson was secure with plenty of food and water we hit the trail at about 5:15am. There was plenty of light at this time so we left the head lamps at base camp.
There are countless closed trails along the way for restoration but the main trail is well marked and easy to spot. The climb from the TH to the Democrat/Cameron saddle was steady and not too difficult. A little bit of loose rock here and there but not bad at all. Cresting the saddle brought a spectacular view of the peaks to the North and Northeast of the saddle.
Looking up at the false summit of Democrat
We began our ascent of the false summit of Democrat. We followed the trail around to the south face and used the switch backs to ascend. One could also utilize the East ridge if one was so inclined. We walked through minimal snow all of which was still frozen from the decent refreeze that took place the night before.
The hike from the false summit to the real summit was no big deal. It's mostly flat with a short incline right before the top. We reached the summit at 7:15, exactly 2 hours after we began. Not bad considering we weren't exactly pushing ourselves. By this time the sun was hitting the tips of all the surrounding peaks creating a breathtaking view.
Cameron and Lincoln from Democrat
We didn't spend long on the summit because we were not sure how much more snow we would need to travel on and every second that passed meant softer snow conditions. We decided to head down the East ridge of Democrat towards the saddle. There is decent glissading to one's immediate right if he or she is descending that ridge. However, the snow was too hard for us to try the slide without an axe. There is some serious rock just below the snow patch and the snow was too hard for us to stop with only our heels. I wouldn't glissade this unless it's later in the day or you are using an ice axe. We were really glad we left as early as we did when we reached the saddle 20 minutes later because we were met by 20-30 people, all climbing Democrat. It was nice to be in front of the pack with a substantial lead on everyone.
The trail from the saddle to the top of Cameron was very well marked. By this time our lungs were warmed up and our legs had found their rhythm so we were at cruising speed. We reached the top of Cameron at about 8:15am. The snow around us was just starting to soften a bit. The snow on the East fact of Cameron as one approaches the saddle between it and Lincoln was perfect for a glissade! The snow was the perfect consistency for a heel arrest and there is nothing but a gradual slope of gravel sized scree dirt below it. This was Julie's 1st glissade and she loved it!
Democrat from Cameron
Lincoln from Cameron
Bross from Cameron
The hike to the summit of Lincoln was a piece of cake. I have to say, I liked to looks of Lincoln more than any of the other three peaks that day. The way the snow patches laid sporadically on the rocky, gnarly summit was just fun to look at. Along the trail to the top there are several old mine shafts with signs warning about poisonous gases, bottomless pits and unstable ladders. Just stay on the trail and you'll be fine. The view from the top was spectacular of course. We could see the summit of all three peaks easily from there. Although the sky was clear, the wind was beginning to pick up so we headed back down into the saddle and grabbed some lunch before our final leg of the trip.
The trail between Lincoln/Cameron and Bross was a really fun one. It was a super easy ridge trail the allowed us to look down into the basin where our campsite was as well as looking to the East where the trails come from Quartzville. We were at the summit of Bross in no time. I think we were up there around 10am and the winds were steadily increasing. Don't let the signs that say the summit is closed scare you off. The alternate route would have taken us only a few hundred feet below the summit and we weren't about to forfeit the top while we were that close.
Bross is definitely the ugliest 14er I've ever seen. It's 14K ft. pile of dirt and rocks. However, the view from the top is really beautiful. the decent was not my favorite. 2k ft. of nothing but sliding rocks and unstable skree under my feet was tough on the knees and ankles. Watch your step. Although the trail is well marked, it is not always very well in tact.
We reached the bottom by 11:15, exactly 6 hours after we began. By that time the parking lot was packed, the trail leading to Democrat was littered with tourists, the clouds were rolling in, and we were very glad to be done.
After a hot cup of coffee and some time comforting our dog who thought we had left him for good, we packed up camp and left the peaks to the masses.
These peaks have kind of earned a bad rap with avid climbers but I think they were a blast for several reasons: #1 easy can and should be relaxing. You don't always need to flirt with death by exhaustion to have fun. #2 Car camping can be a blast if you bring the right food. #3 Getting a full night's sleep before you climb because you are camping at 12K ft is a blessing that only comes along every now and then in the 14er realm. #4 bagging 4 (or 3 depending on how legalistic you are) in 6 hours or less is pretty sweet and provides a great sense of accomplishment.
Climb safely this summer!
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