I did this hike on 29 June as part of a quick tour de 14er and owe my success to a Grand Junction Couple and and their Denver-based daughter who kept me moving on day two of my 14er-thon. Thank you out there, where-ever you are.
Excuses--I come from sea level once a year for the last few to the beautiful environs of Colorado to try my luck at altitude. Thus, I am not a sprinter...plus I am as old as Elway so do the math and check this out...
Later that day (28 June) I complete the drive up to Kite Lake vicinity Alma in preparation for the Democrat-Cameron-Lincoln-Bross try. The road up is not nearly as rough as I initially thought. This has to be a glacier-formed valley, full of old and some working mines now and a mix of rugged and verdant. I am alone after one other solo day hiker departs in the early evening. As darkness falls things cloud up and I am looking down into the valley from which I entered this area to see a wondrous sight. It has already started to snow/sleet off and on and now I see two clouds crawl and twist and float up the valley—one gray and the other white. They move almost together at first and then part and move towards opposite sides of the valley and keep approaching, now accompanied by the first low rumble of thunder. This is a warning. I am above the tree line and without good cover for a lightening storm but I sit on concrete pad that surrounds the toilet facility (outhouse) there at the campground in awe, in fear—transfixed by the progress of these two spirits. Thunder once again rumbles across the valley as the clouds progress and the ones above close in too. I do not see any lightening so I remain seated and watch as the white cloud starts to move up one side of the canyon/valley and breaks apart into threads, only to reform partially into a thinner less serpentine version of itself closer to the top. Its gray brother stays together and moves to my left, rounding the bend at the base of Mt. Bross and then up. It is over, at least their progress and I sit there for a few moments; still stunned by what I have seen and heard.
The night is a restless one as I am alone here at around 12,000 feet and it gets gradually colder. Soon, in the wee hours I “mummy” all the way up in my bag and actually fall into a deep sleep that my alarm must wake me from. Ideally, I would have beaten that final warning bell but I have not and I am a little angry. I am not hungry again and despite the cold (I start the truck and pump a little heat to get going) do not boil tea. I force myself to eat a nearly frozen Cliff Bar and take off.
0527—Start, late by my book and it is cold! Frost on the car but it is not complete. Conditions damp but the sky is clear.
0655—Just below the Democrat saddle and the sun rises over Cameron/its connecting ridge. I am slow this morning. I can see a group coming up from below.
Time unknown—I lose the trail and while scrambling over big boulders the group I spied before catch up—a young gal and I believe their mother and father (young I assume to be 18-20). I give up on the boulders and start working on crossing a snow field, first trying some gripping devices attached to my boots but the snow is too deep. I then begin pounding out a traverse, making sure the path is good given that there are folks right behind me and boy was it work! I finish the 50 or so meters and am roasting and exhausted, ripping off my hat and headcloth as I feel like my head is going to explode. The family group passes me and we briefly discuss my fears about the ridgeline to Cameron (I had been looking at it up to this point and belived it too narrow with too much snow on the top in key sections).
0805—False summit! But the way to the actual is nice and flat with snow but not too much. I join up with the group on the top
0820—Summit. We take photos and the dad informs me they are going on. I have an appointment of a personal nature so I stay behind but all the while shame is bubbling up and I hitch both my drawers and self up and pound off after them. The path requires you to drop back down to the saddle and then ascend again up to 14,000 so there is lots of huffing and puffing but I catch them on the ridgeline as they work towards Cameron. The trail is wide and fine, no real danger and plenty of maneuvering room around the snow.
1005—Summit Cameron (some would say this is no summit but I am counting it). The family resolves to drop there packs in the saddle between Cameron and Lincoln. I will drop mine below the smaller saddle right before Lincoln.
1030—Summit Lincoln. More photos and we start talking more about the clouds that are closing in. The plan remains to go for Bross but I think all of us are thinking about speed. The family gets ahead of me as I re-attach the top pouch of my pack (carried to Lincoln as a fanny pack) but I force march it, running even a little bit and catch up below the ascent to Bross. Bross is a bald boring hill like mountain from this side and indeed, can actually be driven up to by a fearless driver in the proper jeep/other 4WD. I do not record the time of the summit as the clouds are really closing in and we drop as quickly as we can down a steep, loose trail.
1240—Back at the trailhead still racing and, beating, the clouds though a little precip starts. We say goodbyes and I pack up for the next one, almost tagging along with them to Mt. Sherman. I am not hungry but make myself a little vitamin-pack drink in a cup. It is while I am unloading my pockets that I notice something amazing though—all but one of my power shots (gel energy packs), almost all of my trail mix that I hauled (around a cup) and both Cliff Bars remain unconsumed. I also notice that half of my 100 oz water bag remains plus the two liter bottles at my side are full. I walked for around 7 hours (with a “major” break at Democrat and Lincoln) at altitude, a day after a similar hike and on little breakfast—estimate calorie intake perhaps 500 at best and I am not hungry at all! In Alma I stop for coffee as I am tired and need a boost. The shop I stop at only has pastries or ice cream to eat so I grab an apple scone with the coffee. I sit down and take a bite, I think “this is good but I am not hungry” I force myself it eat it anyway and enjoy the good coffee, finishing it as I drive out.
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