Several more fourteeners

Another good long hike today. I'd heard about a loop you could do involving summitting four fourteeners (Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross) in one hike but I wasn't sure I wanted to do something that long. I decided to head out and play it by ear, doing one fourteener at a time and making a decision about the next one on the fly. So I located the dirt road leading to the trailhead from Alma. It was in pretty bad condition and I wasn't sure I should be driving on it in my rental car but I did anyway. About five miles in a road worker stopped me and said I should soon park as they were doing road works and the road was closed further up. This left me with about a two kilometre walk to the trailhead.

The trailhead was by a lovely lake, Kite Lake, snow on one shore reflecting in the water. The trailhead was busy. I embarked on the climb up Mt Democrat, my first peak. I hoped it wouldn't be as steep as Quandary. It climbed fairly steeply at first, already above the tree line, and levelled off, then steepened again as I reached a saddle. From the saddle it was left to Democrat and right to Lincoln and Cameron. There was a great view from the saddle towards the backside of Democrat, a steepsided elongated bowl. 

I turned left and continued climbing. The mountainside was scree, and there was a marked trail but I kept losing it and finding myself scrambling up the scree, which was actually good fun. Near the top I got back on the trail and it was really steep, but not for long. The summit area was compact and I did not linger long. But I did get someone to take my photo while I was holding their placard with the name of the mountain on it. Lots of hikers had carried these placards up Bierstadt but I hadn't seen any on Quandary.

I came back down to the saddle, again completely losing the trail and scrambling down. At one point I could see the trail but there was a large patch of snow between me and the trail so I couldn't access it. 

When I got back to the saddle I decided to head up towards Cameron. I had seen the trail from the top of Democrat but when I was down on it I couldn't manage to follow it; it kept vanishing. So I did lots more scrambling before I got back onto it. Eventually it went along the ridge top and I could see Cameron clearly ahead. The landscape was almost volcanic, barren with patches of snow. Cameron itself was not very exciting as it was just a mound on the trail; in other words you had to go over the top of it to reach Lincoln. 

I continued on to Lincoln because the going did not appear very strenuous. And it wasn't too bad, rising and falling a little with a short steep pitch up to the summit. The summit area was a funny little craggy thing, with a lovely view back to Democrat. It was nice, I got my photo taken up there too with a placard. 

I could see the weather was deteriorating - there were rain or storm clouds above all the distant mountain ranges. Bross was clearly in view, with its rather boring looking rounded summit. Technically you aren't supposed to summit it as it is on private land, but we could see people sitting on top. 

The path towards Bross looked inviting and not steep at all but in a way I had done enough summits for one day. But I realised that if I walked some of the way towards Bross I could return to the trailhead by a different route rather than backtracking to the Democrat saddle and heading down the way I had come up. So I walked, and ran a little, towards Bross without summitting it. But I did get very close. There were tiny clumps of alpine flowers in the dirt.

The trail down was clearly marked. This was not a pleasant trail at all; it was really steep in places with loose dirt and loose rocks all the way down. It required extreme concentration all the way. I slipped and slid a lot and my shoes were full of dirt and stones. Looking down it seemed I could always see the trail continuing to descend without end. The only good part was the view of Kite Lake all the way down. Finally I got down.

Then I had to do the road part back to my car. I ran some of it as it was mostly downhill. A girl who got back to her car at the same time as me came over and congratulated me on my climbing, but I don't know how she knew what I had done! I didn't enjoy the drive back to Alma at all. The road seemed even worse than before.


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