DeCaLiBron (aka Democrat-Cameron-Lincoln-Bross)
I got a late start on the day. Hurridly, I make some coffee, eat some oatmeal, and I’m off. As I’m driving to the trailhead I think about the last time I was here. It was less than a year ago. I had gotten drunk the night before. Hangovers and hiking up mountains don’t mix. De-Ca-Li-Bron - 1, Jake - 0.
I was feeling pretty good, ready to try again. I make my way up the not-smooth gravel road in my little 2WD Mazda3, eventually coming to a snowdrift about 0.5 miles from the trailhead. Ok. No big deal. It’s just a little further. I park behind another 2WD sedan and set about the t ask at hand: 7.25 miles & over 3700ft. of elevation (not counting the 0.5mi from my car). Let’s do this.
As I approach the trailhead I noticed about 6 or so 4WD drive vehicles that had made it through the drifts. I had my mountaineering axe with me and I was sporting mountaineering boots. I wasn’t sure of the conditions and I figured better safe than sorry. I was probably a little over-prepared, but oh well. I didn’t care, the conditions were almost perfect. This particular route can get REALLY windy, but today it was calm. It was a little after 8 in the morning. As I made my way up to the first saddle I chatted with other folks on the route. A lot of them were aiming to do the same route as I was. Awesome. That way if I break my ankle there will be someone there to go for help.
I reached the saddle between Democrat and Cameron. 13,200 ft up. I turn left and head up Democrat. It is a pretty steep route through some pretty rocky terrain, but the path was well marked and easy to follow. As I neared the summit there were a few patches of snow that were still pretty solid and easy to deal with, but I could tell they were softening, and fast. As I went over the last ridge, just over 14,000 ft, I ran into a trio of girls with a tiny little furball of a dog. We exchanged pleasantries and continued on our way. I went up the last 200 ft and hit the summit, it’s so beautiful. Time for a quick pic. SHIT! I forgot my camera AND my phone. Damn it, no pics this time. Oh well, I put it behind me and continue.
I made my way back to down to the saddle at the exact same time as the trio of girls. They were going on the same route I was, so we sort of started hiking together. It was nice to have someone else to converse with, besides myself. We made our way up Cameron and I agreed to snap pics of them the summit (to avoid more 3person selfies) and they were nice enough to agree to send me pics, as I had forgotten my camera (THANK YOU NIKI!!!). It was a splendid arrangement.
We made our way over to Mt. Lincoln, which instantly became my favorite. The view was beyond spectacular and thankfully the climb up was much less rocky than Democrat and Cameron had been. There were a few groups up on top there and we relaxed briefly, chatted for a while, and continued. As we approached Bross I thought of the warnings I read online that the summit of Bross is technically closed; I very much doubted a Ranger was going to jump out from behind a boulder and issue me a fine, however, I didn’t want to be a dick.
The path that we were following pretty much took us straight up to the summit. We were there before I knew it. I didn’t see one “no trespassing” sign anywhere. The girls didn’t seem to mind, and secretly my plan was to just say “I didn’t know where I was going, I was just following them,” if we got stopped. (Granted I had a GPS watch with the route onscreen strapped to my arm, so I had my doubts about my strategy). Oh well, fuck it, before you knew it we were at the summit and one our way back to the trailhead.
The descent was a little taxing on the knees and got really warm the further we went down. Making your way down slippery skree and pebbles is not super fun after climbing up four 14ers, let me tell you. We got back to the parking lot about 2:30. The ladies were even nice enough to give a ride the half mile back to my car. They were all in agreement that several glasses of wine were in order. I agreed on the craving but not on the solution. The Breckenridge Brewery was less than an hour away and I was very hungry and thirsty. (FYI: the Saison @BB is amazing).
End of the day: great route, I highly recommend. Thanks again to the girls for the good company and the photos!