Last weekend [once again, a full week ago, not a few days ago…oops!] I finally got a chance to remedy my “I haven’t been up a 14er in sooooo long” whining. After 10 hours shadowing a firehouse ambulance crew I headed for the Fairplay/Alma area where I’d meet up with Robb + Kami for a night of camping before a Decalibron summit. Just before the sunset on Saturday night we settled into camp near Kite Lake, warming ourselves around a craftily created fire before crashing into our sleeping bags. It has been far too long since I drove up a sketchy mountain road to go camping under the clear mountain sky…this needs to happen more often before they’re all covered in snow!
[our destination was the four summits of “decalibron” – Democrate, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross – a short, popular route, all above treeline]
We crawled out of our tents just as the trailhead got busy with hikers, packed our bags with our summit treats and headed up, up, up. Our start wasn’t super early but we did get out soon enough to avoid the majority of the conga line of weekend hikers headed to a few of Colorado’s most popular 14ers. We had a steady flow of people to chat with as we leap frogged with them but there were no traffic jams.
The climb that took us up Democrat was a bit of a slap in the face…it’s been far too long since I’ve climbed up hill at altitude. My legs were working but my lungs weren’t! Thankfully everyone on the trail was incredibly chatty so I had plenty of distractions, mountain people are awesome like that.
When we arrived on the Democrat summit the fun started. Kami is a genius and is destined to be my friend forever, she thought up the idea of having a designated treat at the top of each mountain. When we summited we indulged in our treats. Democrat was my doing and we each got a summit donut! Get it? Donuts on Democrat!
The sliding descent off Democrat went quick and as we skirted around the lines of people heading up the mountain our conversation turned to the weather. Clouds had rolled in. Actually, the clouds that were there when we woke up never burned off with the sunshine. Rather than being sweaty in the mountain sunshine we had tugged on all of our layers and were debating the volatility of the low hanging clouds.
Ultimately, we decided to keep hiking, at least up Cameron. It was only 7:30am and the clouds were still light, fluffy and floating calmly…the chances of a storm actually accumulating were minimal. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t over cautious on the entire hike up. Every 5 minutes or so I made the group reassess and verified that we should actually keep going.
We arrived at the summit of Cameron without the weather worsening so after sharing our summits cupcakes we made a beeline for Lincoln! It was a short saddle with no technical scrambles so it was a quick hike over. We cracked open our Upslope lagers on the top of Lincoln and had mountain top breakfast at 9:30am before returning to Cameron en route to the trailhead parking lot [that’s the beauty of summits via saddles, you usually have to resummit the first mountain to get back to the car!].
Finally…after about 18 summit-less months I tagged a few mountain tops! It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped [living at “altitude” in Denver is bogus, the altitude definitely still gets to you!] and the clouds hid the endless mountain views but it was worth it! Plus, you can’t go wrong when you’re celebrating atop each mountain with alliteration treats – donuts on Democrat, cupcakes on Cameron, lager on Lincoln and Bluemoon on Bross. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be inviting myself on more adventures with Kami…
**On our first stop atop Cameron we made the executive decision to skip Bross [another mountain in the Decalibron quad!] because the weather was being iffy and because the only quick way off Bross involved a sliding scree field that would not bode well with Max, our canine compadre. However, we did not want our Bluemoon brews to go to waste so we indulged in them during our hike from Cameron to Lincoln**