Peak(s):  Mt. Lincoln  -  14,286 feet
Mt. Democrat  -  14,148 feet
Mt. Cameron  -  14,238 feet
Date Posted:  08/10/2010
Date Climbed:   07/31/2010
Author:  Markwise
 Chicagoans on the DeCaLi (My 5-year old's 1st!)  

Before this hike, I had done 36 of the 54 14ers. I finally decided it was time to deal with the crowds of the DeCaLiBro. My father did these back in 1990 and its amazing to see how "popular" hiking the 14ers has become. I can recall doing Quandary as my first back in 1991 and only running into a few select parties that day. How times have changed.

The other highlight of today is we decided that Democrat would be a good first 14er for my five-year old son Luke. The distance is quite short and the "class 2" of the hike from the Democrat-Cameron saddle is quite modest.

Luke did quite well. While I and my friend Matt hiked ahead and went for the loop hike from Kite Lake my son Luke hiked with my parents at a slower pace. Keeping things slower and interesting for my boy he was able to summit Democrat with little trouble. The big positive from the crowds is Luke had plenty of encouragement from very nice people along the way. He turned out to be the youngest on the trail that day so he had some celebrity going with this. The other motivation for him was the word of a large snowfield just below Democrat's summit. And he did indeed enjoy a great snowball fight after summiting.

Words of wisdom from this experience of taking my 5-year old up a 14er:
1. Be prepared for all potential 14er hazards. He was equipped with raingear and good weather report for the day. He was equipped with a small REI kids pack with its own camelbak and we forced him to hydrate regularly to ward off dehydration and altitude sickness. He was equipped with proper hiking shoes and clothing overall. In other words, taking your young kids on a 14er is no child's play.
2. Keep him motivated. Somehow it seems 5 years don't quite have the same appreciation of nature and climbing and the outdoors as adults do. They're mostly out there because its what Dad does and "monkey see, monkey do." Give the kid goals to shoot for and keep his/her mind off of how long or hard the hike seems.
3. Allot for lots of time. Kids love to explore every stick and rock along the way and need the time to rest and enjoy the hike. This speaks especially to making sure the weather is allowing the necessary time for the hike.

Words regarding Bross
It is very clear from signage that the summit of Mt. Bross remains closed. For those wishing to hike all three official 14ers in this loop here is what we learned during this hike:
1. As we stood on Lincoln's summit we could see a pickup truck and a man in the distance parked on the summit. On this particular Saturday they were up there from roughly 9:30am to 10:30am. As we traversed Cameron we saw the pickup truck leave the summit and shortly thereafter several hikers heading up to the summit.
2. As we hit the descent trail on Bross, around 11:10am, we heard a pair of motorbikes and at least one ATV roaring up to the summit of Bross. Somewhat humorously, the summit of Bross soon looked like a herd of cockroaches when the light is turned on as a swarm of roughly 20 hikers went full-speed down the western slopes from Bross' summit heading for the descent trail. Not sure what the owners do to those found on the summit. But IMHO, if you do decide to summit Bross, might wish to at least be somewhat respectful and make your stay clean and short.


Had a perfect day for weather. Though most of our trip out to Colorado had the daily 60% chance of thunderstorms forecasted, we were fortunate enough never to get any morning rain. This day saw no issues with impending storms. The clouds that did roll through just added to the great panorama of photos we took.


Wow. This by far was the most people I've ever seen. It was a good weathered-July Saturday and literally everyone and their grandma was up there (we did see someone in their 70s!). My estimate is 250+ people. The route up Democrat was like a trail of ants. As we moved on to Cameron/Lincoln the route still had a lot of people but was *much* less crowded.


Little to add here. The entire route is easy to follow. The signage near Bross is easy to understand and follow. We did run into a very kind CFI crew on the descent from Bross whom we talked to for awhile. They were on the lower 20% of the trail working on re-routing the trail through rock steps to make it more self-preserving as opposed to going up through the dirt/grass slopes.


Up Democrat in 1:32:34
Over to Cameron in 1:12:42
Over to Lincoln in 14:57
Over to and down Bross in 1:59:49


Here is the track file from our climb:


Here is my 5-year old Luke and my parents all ready for a beautiful hike from Kite Lake.

This is a look at Democrat from the saddle w/ Cameron. Past here it is easy class 2. But just enough class 2 that someone who would have trouble with taking uneven or long steps on rocks should re-consider if this is for them.

A look from the "false summit" along Democrat's east ridge. From here its an easy stroll through this flat spot, past the large snowfield, and up about 50-100 feet onto the easy summit ahead. This was the most encouraging false summit I've ever encountered (unlike the Elbert false summits!).

Mt. Massive looking sweet. Arkansas River valley blanketed in cloud.

Obligatory summit shot on Democrat

My boy Luke and I at the Democrat-Cameron saddle as we part ways. I was off to Democrat and Lincoln while he was headed up Democrat.

The ant trail of people heading up Democrat (as seen from Cameron's west ridge

On the Cameron summit looking over to Lincoln's summit. From a distance Lincoln's summit actually looks a bit challenging...

...but up close you'll find that it is a relatively easy scramble to the top. Though one should take note there is plenty of cliffs off the sides of Lincoln's summit so one should take care to watch step while up there.

A zoomed in look at a man and a pickup truck atop Mt. Bross as seen from Mt. Lincoln

Obligatory summit shot atop Mt. Lincoln. Lincoln finishes the top 10 14ers now for me.

A look at one of the Private Property signs from the west (descent) side of Mt. Bross. One can also note the mass exodus of hikers from Bross' summit as the sounds of ATV's and motorbikes approached.

Though crowded, the Kite Lake area provides some exceptional photos.

This trail leading down Bross was just awful. On the plus side, the dirt/scree was so loose and thick one could actually posthole-slide down at a decent pace.

Hooray for CFI! They do wonderful work. God bless them for their willingness to serve.

My boy Luke and I after another wonderful day in the mountains. Time to decide what peaks to tackle next summer!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Exiled Michigander

Father and Son
08/11/2010 02:15
Fantastic report--what a great father-son memory! Your son is really going to cherish those photos of the two of you someday.

And is that an Indiana hat I see on your Dad's head? Go Hoosiers!


08/11/2010 02:43
Well, his hat is actually from Concordia University Chicago, but, he grew up in Indiana so he is a Hoosier fan. I happen to be born and raised an Illini fan. And to add to the mix, have lived in Michigan the last 4 years in Big Blue country. So we've got the Big Ten covered here.


Three Generations
08/11/2010 03:38
How cool to see three generations of a family out climbing peaks together! Your son is adorable... looks rather tall for 5 years old, too, at least in that first pic standing next to the grandparents. The next Layton Kor?

Oh, and I happen to be an ex-Michigander myself... lived there my whole life until moving out here about 3 years ago from E. Lansing... Go State!


Very nice!
07/29/2013 21:01
We truly do have a great father because he is heading back out to Colorado with son #2, me, this weekend to do DeCaliBro AGAIN! (Oh wait, this will now be his third time doing them) Now that's devotion...


08/11/2010 15:44
Too true. At least the DeCaLiBro is an ”easy” one. Maybe you two can beat Matt and I's loop time of 5hrs, 51mins, and 52secs.


Nice report ...
08/11/2010 22:05
You seem to have covered it all with your format. I haven't climbed those peaks in decades ... looking at the crowds, I'm glad. On the upside, it is good to see so many people getting out and enjoying the wilderness. I do so appreciate the multi-generational thing you have going on there, Markwise. Take care and happy trails!


07/29/2013 21:01
Presto, you are right about the crowds. I just returned today from doing DeCaliBro and there were around 500 people on the mountains today alone! At the end of our hike we ran into a CFI team working on the new Bross trail down at the bottom. After talking with some of them for a while, we ventured into the parking lot where one of three CFI full time paid employees starting talking with us and said that he had already talked with 420 people and these were not all of them on the mountains. He actually had a clicker to keep track on his belt so I trust his number. Fortunately for us, we were coming down Democrat when most everyone else was going up and we were able to head over to Lincoln without much of the crowd following us. Beautiful day!


Three Generations
08/30/2010 03:54
I wonder how many other three generation hikes have been done on 14ers on the same peak on the same day? Probably some.

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