| Democrat - 1st Trip Report, 2nd 14er
My first 14er was Gray's Peak on 8/14/10... I went with two of my housemates, Mike and Suzanne - they got both Gray's and Torrey's, but I was hiking with a broken toe, and also having some trouble breathing so I took it slow and just did Gray's.
Yesterday, the 3 of us drove down to Alma in hopes of doing Democrat, Cameron, and Lincoln. We left our house in Denver just after 4, and made it to the trailhead by 6:45.
There were not too many cars in the parking lot, but we did find someone to take our picture (too bad it is still on Suzanne's camera, haha!). After hitting up the restrooms and eating a bit more breakfast, we started up to Democrat at 7:09 AM.
Mt. Democrat, Suzanne, and Mike
(Side Note: This was my 4th trip to climb 14ers, but my first summit was Gray's in August. I have a hard time breathing with the altitude. Thanks to a great personal trainer, my legs are good to go all day, but breathing is still an issue. When we did Gray's and Torrey's, I told Mike and Suzanne to go on ahead and if need be, we would meet back at the car. It took me 4.5 hours to get Gray's, and they did both peaks in the same amount of time. There were probably a few hundred people climbing that day.)
On Democrat yesterday, there were not many people. I would say no more than 50, tops. I told Mike and Suzanne that they could go ahead if they wanted to, but they said they would rather stick together, so we did. We weren't really in a hurry, and decided we would hike what we could. They would go at their pace for awhile, and then wait for me to catch up. About a quarter of the way up, I was already starting to get a headache. Suzanne gave me some Excedrin and I ate a Luna bar, and we all kept going. I felt tons better within 20 minutes.
Despite a lot of the trail being just piles of rocks, I found Democrat to be an easier hike than Gray's was. Maybe because there wasn't such a long lead in? Halfway up Democrat, I finally felt acclimated to the elevation - I still needed to stop fairly often to breathe, but it was never for very long. A few good breaths, and I was ready to go again!
Finally on top! We made it in just over 3 hours. We hung out for awhile on top, talking to people, figuring out where the surrounding 14ers were, and taking pictures. Thanks to the team of LiveStrong folks who were there with us and let us borrow their sign!
Me, Suzanne, Mike
Quandry (I think?) from Democrat summit
Lincoln and Cameron
After snacking on some sandwiches and trail mix, we decided that Democrat would be it for the day. While we would have really liked to get the rest, all of us were tired, and I needed to be back in Denver for a concert in the evening. We headed back to the car around 10:45 or 11, and made it back around 12:45. We are already planning to come back and get the rest next summer!
Going down was way harder than going up, in my opinion. The rocks were harder to navigate, and all of us slipped a couple times on the looser parts. No injuries really, unless you count the blister on my toe, haha. The only thing I would do differently next time is that I would wear hiking boots. I wore my Teva hiking sandals yesterday with wool blend socks, and while going up it was fine, I didn't feel very comfortable going down in them. I just started hiking a lot this summer and have worn the Teva's for every hike - even Gray's - with no problems, but this was just more rocky than I expected!
All in all, I could not have asked for a better day in the mountains yesterday. We were worried about temperature, but it was perfect weather. A little chilly in the morning and when the wind would hit, but we were dressed warmly. We didn't even start seeing clouds until around 12:30 or 1 when we got back to the car. It was a beautiful day, and a VERY fun hike - would definitely do it again!
Two pics left, so here are some pikas. =)
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):