The Decalibron!

Sometimes schedules, weather, and motivation all align to make a trip happen, and yesterday was one of those days – exactly four years to the day after my first attempt at this route. The weather was still breezy, but far nicer, warmer, drier, and sunnier than last time.

Through a few conversations, Lauren and I decided it would be fun to try to hike, climb, or ski all the 14ers together. I’m going to have a few repeats (I was at 16/58 yesterday morning), but that’s alright – most of the repeats will be good ski descents, which I’m always up for.

Though the original plan was to camp up there, last minute schedule changes nixed that. Instead, we loaded up the car the night before. The next morning, I checked my phone and saw a comment from Lauren during a quick stop on the way to Kite Lake, and had to reply.

We got moving sometime around 6:30, and saw the beautiful effect of sunrise on some peaks outside the upper end of the valley.

It was lightly breezy, and a cool 40F (though it was 30F a couple miles down from the lake), as Lauren and I got warmed up; Scout took the opportunity to burn off a little of her excitement by running around and hopping between rocks.

Even though the Kite Lake 14ers aren’t particularly interesting (and now that I’ve hiked them, I can’t imagine coming back if not to ski them), the area provides some great views.

For a while Scout was having trouble – I think she was having minor GI issues from the altitude – that quickly wore off and she started running circles around us, as is generally the case.

Having never been around the whole loop, I’ve always thought of the talus on the east side of Mt. Democrat as pretty bad, but the ascent wasn’t too bad.

Relatively soon, we were at the top, but just for a few minutes; we had a long day, so we took in the view and some calories, snapped a few photos, and moved on.

There are actually four shots of this, with Scout slowly walking through the frame. It’s not easy to make her sit still most of the time.

As we backtracked and started heading up towards Cameron/Lincoln, the winds picked up. Luckily for us, the next couple hours were spent primarily on the windward side of a long ridge.

The summit of Cameron is a large, majestic…no, that’s not right…flat and boring spot. The wind was particularly intense here, and as I was putting my down jacket on, I had my sun hat in my hand – one just like the one I lost a few months ago – and the wind gusted so hard it ripped the hat out of my hand and took it away. I was audibly unhappy about it, and chased it over to the edge of the ridge, where I expected it to be gone; miraculously, it had landed on a rock and stuck there. I grabbed the hat, stuffed it in my pocket, and moved on.

I stopped to look back at Cameron, and marveled at its gentle flatness.

Not much later we were at the summit of Lincoln, where we again threw down a few calories, got a couple photos, and moved on.

Just Lauren here, with Mt. Bross in the background. The summit is technically closed, because the summit (an abandoned, never-productive mining claim) is technically private property.

And here’s one of just Scout and I, enjoying the beautiful day. If you look closely, you can see that I’m wearing my Vibram FiveFingers. While I love them for running and hiking on dirt, they were not the appropriate choice of footwear for the descent that was ahead.

Scout has never been one to love the wind, and today was no exception.

Now, since the top of Bross is “closed” due to a no-show-to-negotiations owner of the non-productive mining claim on the summit, CFI has signed a bypass route that avoids the private land (and the summit) by a few hundred feet. Now, since it’s “closed,” the USFS and CFI have asked people to not go to the summit, since it might somehow negatively impact acquiring legal access in the future. This same request was made when Democrat and Lincoln had similar access issues; several thousand hikers during a “closure” later, and access was acquired.

We certainly respected the closure, as did everyone else in the area yesterday. This photo is definitely not from the summit of Bross, but rather from the highest point on the officially open trail.

The descent is truly miserable. It’s loose and scree-ey, but not so much that you can just plunge-step down. It took a couple hours to get down, and would have been faster and more pleasant to go back to the Democrat/Lincoln saddle and take that back to the trailhead. I didn’t enjoy it, and have some huge, deep blisters on my forefeet to prove it. Scout protested several times by sitting down in the trail and is walking tenderly today, and Lauren took a couple slips. At least there was a decent view.

I was thrilled to get back down to grass and dirt again, while Scout was just happy to have some solid rock to stand on and survey that which was before her.

At long last, we made it back down, sore and tired. The three of us snacked and hydrated, before heading back to Denver to stuff ourselves with Good Times. Scout even got a paw bender, which she earned with an outstanding performance today.

It really was an excellent day, and Lauren and I are now at 4/58 complete. I’m not positive what’s next, but I’ve got an idea or two. Until next time…

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