The DeCaLiBron: Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross. Some of us in the family have been eyeing this combination of 14ers for a while. Decided that this was the year to do it. In the end, there were only three of us who really wanted all four. I've been on the three "real" 14ers before, so Cameron (not a true 14er because of a 300ft saddle-peak difference technicality) was really my only true goal of the day. Democrat had been good to me last year, but the area was covered in fog and so we lacked several necessary summit pictures. I dislike both Lincoln and Bross for different reasons. Lincoln because of too many false peaks (argh!) and Bross because there is no reward once you've reached the top. It is literally a football field of boulders, and the view is unnecessarily boring due to its broad "peak." So if all I got for the day was Democrat and Cameron, I'd have still been extremely happy.
After paying the small parking fee at the Kite Lake campground, my cousin Sal and I jetted up the trail while my dad opted for an easier pace. The trail starts off pretty steep and rocky, but upon hitting the grassy area the grade eases slightly. Not too many switchbacks, but they weren't really needed for this section anyhow. After the saddle, the trail switchbacks a few times before going up and over the very easy false peak. This area is very flat and follows a sort of trail (mostly just tracks through the snow) until making a short climb to the summit. We got up to the summit more quickly than we had last year, and so waited around for my dad to show. We started to cool down, and with the wind blowing as well, decided to start down and wait for him elsewhere. He told us to wait for him back down at the Democrat-Cameron saddle, but after he didn't show for about 15 minutes we started to get concerned. Turned out that on the way down he lost the cairned route and ended up going down the wrong side of a wide field of snow. Everything turned out okay though, and soon enough we were all headed up to bag Cameron.
The route up Cameron is pretty straightforward, but with the snow covering the trail it gets difficult to figure out at times. Basically, you just go up. There is a slight false peak, but nothing too bad as near the top the trail eases up a lot. From Cameron you can see the other three peaks, as it is right in the middle of them. The hike over to Lincoln from there is so simple and quick that it's almost a crime not to just walk over and do it. So we did! The trail to Lincoln from Cameron is not bad at all, and since you can see the false peaks from above it's not quite as aggravating coming upon it. At the top of Lincoln is a chute, which many of my family members (they joined us after climbing Cameron and seeing how easy the trail was) stood MUCH too close to. As in, in it. And one bad step would result in horrible, horrible, death. My family scares me sometimes.
Having hit three of four at this point, we headed down toward Cameron again, but skirted the peak and followed a trail that took us over to Bross. This trail is pretty nondescript, much like Bross itself. Some pretty flowers along it in places, though. Okay, so, actually the Bross summit is closed right now because of old mining activities. But we saw other people up there. And we came all that way. And who wants to say they did the Decali-almostBron. So, we went up. And it was just as blah as I remembered, and everyone up there was disappointed and wanted to leave it right away. So I'm telling you, if you want to do the Decalibron and just leave Bross off of it, that is probably the better choice for so many reasons. We spent about three minutes at this summit, and most of it was asking other people the best route to get off of it and back down to Kite Lake.
Well, the quickest route, as it turns out, just goes right off the west side of the mountain. This side has a mineshaft on it, and lots of tracks in the rocks from the mining. The whole mountainside is just steep scree. We figured it looked perfect, as going back around and up Cameron and coming down the snowy trail to the saddle and down was just too much work at this point. The trail itself was not steep in most sections; however the slope going down is, and it is made up almost exclusively of tiny rocks and dirt. We followed the trail along this slope, each of us taking turns slipping and catching our breaths. The trail doesn't get much better than this beyond eventually becoming small boulders to navigate on steep terrain. It doesn't really ever give you a break until you're almost standing in the parking lot again.
End tally: Three completed the Decalibron, two completed the Calibron, and two more did just the Cali. Usually after the Alma area hikes we head to the South Park Saloon to celebrate with some beers and foods, but this time around we were all too worn out to even think about anything other than getting back to the hot tub. Well-deserved end to a very butt-kicking hike.
Note: time does not include any waiting time we had, as well as time spent at summits. Total time for trip was 6 hours, 46 minutes.
||Wildflowers Observation Isolated