Five Fourteener Frenzy Weekend
After planning a Sunday trip to climb Longs Peak with some folks from 14ers.com I decided to fill my Saturday with the DeCaLiBron route. After the Sunday Longs trip fell through, I ended up doing Torreys Peak on Sunday. Altogether I hit 5 fourteener peaks this weekend, 4 of which were new to me. The makes six fourteeners in the last 30 days.
DeCaLiBron is shorthand for Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross, 4 14,000 foot peaks in the Mosquito Range. The peaks are arranged in such a way that a 7.5 mile loop can take you to each peak.
I originally had no plans to do this hike over the weekend, however, the wife and kiddo were out of town and I wanted to make use of the time (they don't do fourteeners). So I made a last minute plan to climb what I considered to be an "easier" trail. I had also climbed Democrat previously, so I kind of knew the area.
I was so antsy for the hike that I woke up before my 0300 alarm at 0240. I was on the road by 0320 and arrived at the Kite Lake trailhead at around 0530. After getting all my gear together I hit the trail right at 0545. I could already see a few headlamps starting the trail in both directions.
I took my first break an hour into the hike to put on some thicker gloves and to eat a snack. Uncrustables I have found make a dang fine hiking snack. After this break I arrived at the saddle between Mount Democrat and Mount Cameron just after 0700. I took a quick break again and stashed my pack before continuing on the trail to Democrat's summit.
I summited Democrat at 0745, exactly 2 hours after leaving the car. The weather on top was gorgeous. I had light layers on and did not even need anything to cover my ears. I snapped a few pictures, took in the scenery, and then descended back down to the saddle.
Once down from Democrat, I retrieved my pack and started the walk up the ridge to Cameron. About 3/4 of the way up the wind really started to pick up. The temperature started to drop and I had to finally don my stocking cap. By the time I reached the extremely flat peak of Cameron, I had to add another wind-blocking jacket to my layers. It was so windy and cold on top of Cameron that I just snapped my obligatory summit photo and moved on.
I summited Cameron at 0912, a little under an hour and a half from when I summited Democrat.
I almost lost my favorite hiking hat too. I had stuffed it into my jacket and when I went to put my second jacket on, my hat fell out. I probably looked like a fool chasing it around the summit. Luckily I was able to recover it.
Lincoln was clearly visible across the flat terrain. It seemed like an easy enough traverse. There is not much elevation change between Cameron and Lincoln, which is why Cameron is not considered its own peak on some fourteener lists.
I arrived at Lincoln's summit just a hair over 20 minutes after summiting Cameron. It was a pretty easy traverse but it was also my favorite summit of the group. I think I enjoy small summits better because the sense of being on top of the world is amplified.
For the first time in my life I finally took a summit picture with a sign. The sign had been wedged under a rock for anyone to use.
Leaving the Lincoln summit, I followed what I thought were the obvious trails over to Bross. Bross is on private property and the summit is closed. Hikers are supposed to bypass the summit. I knew this and I still ended up on the wrong trail that took me right to the summit. I didn't really realize I was on the wrong trail until I crested the summit ridge and realized my mistake.
Some other folks went by too, so I was not the only one.
The summit of Bross was pretty flat like Cameron and not all that exciting other than it was the last of the group and all my hiking would be downhill from there. The hike over from Lincoln only took about 50 minutes. Again on the way down, I seemed to have lost the main trail. I ended up on some really loose and steep rock for a portion where I accidentally bypassed a switchback with another hiker.
I made it back to the car at 1137, just a bit under 6 hours for my total round trip. More importantly though, this was the best I had ever felt after doing a fourteener. My knees didn't hurt, my pack was not bothering me anywhere, and I did not have a pounding headache.
I made my way back to the town of Alma and had a beer and lunch at the South Park Saloon, the highest saloon in the country. On the drive back home I contemplated how I would feel about getting up and doing Longs the next day.
Yeah, that says Torreys, not Longs. When I got home I had a message from the folks I was going to hike Longs with saying that they were calling it off due to some hairy conditions they had seen for the mountain. Given that Longs is a bit more difficult of a hike than I am used to, I opted to not hike it alone. I audibled and decided to hike Torreys Peak instead.
I woke up at 3 Am again and drove to the trailhead. I arrived right at 0500 and was hiking by 0510; I could already see headlamps up on the saddle. Other than some elevated burning of my quads, I felt pretty good considering the hike from the day before. I continued to stop every hour for some water and a snack.
The temperature on the lower part of the hike was much warmer than the previous day and I felt overdressed. However, once I crested the Grays/Torreys saddle, the wind really kicked up and I was adding layers.
It took me almost 3 full hours to reach the saddle. I did start off the hike with another hiker and was moving at a slower pace for a bit but I doubt I would have shaved off that much time alone.
I summited Torreys at 0830, about 3 hours and fifteen minutes after I had started my hike. The Torreys summit may be my favorite summit to date. It was small and I was the only one there initially. I had the whole place to myself. Also having completed my fifth fourteener in two days felt like quite an accomplishment. I cracked open my summit beer (another first) just as another hiker gained the summit.
Him and I chatted for about 20 minutes in the gorgeous summit weather before beginning our descent. The whole hike I had been contemplating the traverse to Grays but having done Grays before and the two days in a row of hiking left me without enough mental reserve to want to go for the combo. I opted to just head down to my car.
The mountain was busy and I chatted with a few folks on the way down. I returned to the car at 1050, about five and a half hours after I started. I took the rough 4WD road back down to the Interstate and stopped in Idaho Springs for a beer at Westbound and Down Brewery.
All in all, a really great weekend of hiking. I can't wait for my next mountain adventure.