Last year Ian, R., S, & I hiked up Grey's peak, which was Ian's & my first fourteener. This year R invited us to join him on the 4 fourteener hike, taking us from Mt. Democrat, Mt. Cameron (an unofficial 14er), Mt. Lincoln, & Mt. Bross. Er, I mean, we didn't hike Bross because that would be illegal. Right. So why is Cameron an unofficial 14er: it is above 14k feet but because there is less than a 300ft elevation difference between neighboring peaks it isn't considered an official peak, but whatever... for our purposes, we'll count it as a 14er. And no, we did not do this hike because it is an election year: that was just a happy coincidence =) Kind of like how last year we hiked Grey's on 9/11, which was the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Anyway, I digress. We drove out Friday afternoon to Kite Lake, which is where the trail starts/ends for the loop of 14ers. We camped out and watched the stars & started our hike around 7:30am the next day. I guess we started our hike at a good time since we hardly ran into any crowds on the trail.
(The red dot you see in the bottom left is a headlamp belonging to one of the few guys who decided to start the hike late at night.)
So how was it, you ask? Well, it was probably the most grueling hike I will ever do. It was only 7.25miles but we climbed about 3700ft and we started at 12000ft so our hike was all above 12000ft, where there is 65% of the oxygen available at sea level. Despite a night of acclimatizing and being as fit as I am (or at least as I think I am), this hike definitely kicked my butt. To give you a frame of reference, the Half Dome hike in Yosemite climbs 4800ft but over ~16miles and starts at a base elevation of 4000ft. Thus I would argue Half Dome is easier on the body in that respect.
The descent was probably the worst descent I've ever done. It was steep and covered in loose rock. There were times I just crouched down and paddled my way down. I get tired just thinking back to it! But we did it. We survived. The only positive thing I could make the descent out to be was that it was good training for the snow season ;)
The views were stunning, though. On the trail a ways up you could see why Kite Lake was named as such. It was perfect.
I was swapping layers on and off all day because the wind is fickle like that, but overall it was perfect weather. No rain clouds in sight! We really lucked out with our trip in that respect. I don't think we could have done any better =) For more photos from our hike, check out my album.
Hope you had a relaxing weekend!