Peak(s):  Mt. Democrat  -  14,148 feet
Mt. Cameron  -  14,238 feet
Mt. Lincoln  -  14,286 feet
Mt. Bross  -  14,172 feet
"South Bross" - 14,020 feet
Date Posted:  10/24/2019
Modified:  02/16/2021
Date Climbed:   07/12/2008
Author:  huffy13
 Found pics! A TR years after the fact (The Decalibron Loop)  

I was scanning through my home computer this last weekend, looking for some pics of my kids during their grade school days when I came across the pictures from a trip my wife and I took to Buena Vista with some friends just to relax and enjoy a break from the oppressive Texas Panhandle heat that we were getting in July of 2008. I thought I had lost these pics, and I honestly had intended to do a report the week after we got back home. I figured the pics and experience is still relevant for those that may be looking into doing these four as a loop, so here goes.

We rented a cabin just south of Buena Vista (near Johnson Village) that overlooked the Arkansas River, staying for 4 days gave us time to enjoy some river rafting, hanging out in both BV and Salida and just a few days of total relaxation. My buddy Trey had not ever hiked at altitude, but was very interested after I showed him the pics from the previous year when my son and I summitted Grays and Torreys, my son's first 14ers and my 2nd and 3rd. We figured we'd go get Sherman, but another friend that lived in Denver wanted to go hike with us and he already had Sherman, as well as Quandary and Shavano. He had not gotten the Decalibron loop, neither had I, so why not knock off 4 summits on one excursion?


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The hike party before leaving the cabin


We left the cabin before sunup and arrived at Kite Lake around 6 am, got a good parking spot right at the main lot, paid our parking day fee and started uphill shortly thereafter. It was pretty dark when we started, but the trail was pretty obvious. One thing I really feel is missing from this hike is that your are never getting to hike through any forests....the trailhead is around 12,000 ft, so there's really nothing beyond the willows and tundra flora. Still, there were some wildflowers, but the entire hike is above treeline.

The trail up all 4 mountains is pretty straightforward. We did start with Mt. Democrat.


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Blurry, but started to see some sunlight about 20 minutes into the hike


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Easy to follow trail, even in the dark


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Still trudging along....Mt. Cameron is above us


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Looking down at Kite Lake...you can definitely see how it gets it's name


19939_07
Alpenglow on Mt. Loveland and Buckskin


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Looking up towards the upper slopes of Mt. Democrat


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Trey taking a short breather on the upper part of the slopes on Mt. Democrat


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Looking down at much of our ascent path just before making our final push to the summit of Mt. Democrat


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Don't worry, Trey, we're almost there.


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Taking a break. For being in July, there was a lot of snow still lingering. Winter of 2007/early Spring 2008 was a good snow year.


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We made Mt. Democrat's summit after about an hour and a half of hiking.

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Mt. Democrat summit pic...that sign was already there, btw.



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Looking down at the Climax Mine operations and Fremont Pass area to the NNW of Democrat


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View down into a gulch on the west side of Lincoln.


Then we traversed across the broad connecting ridge over to Mt. Cameron.

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On our way down to the saddle that connects Mt. Democrat to Mt. Cameron.


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Good shot of the typical conditions of the trail on the ridge connecting Democrat and Cameron


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Another shot during the Cameron traverse...probably the Gore Range in the far distance


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Almost to the summit of Cameron


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Looking down at some of the trail that we were on during the early part of our hike.


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Mt. Cameron summit pic. It's a big summit, really not much more than a bump on the way to Mt. Lincoln.


And after a short, 10 minute break we began the trek over to Mt. Lincoln, which was my favorite of the 4, just seemed like the views from Lincoln's summit were pretty good and the ridge over was somewhat more fun than the others.

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The view over to Mt. Lincoln from just below the summit of Mt. Cameron


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Cool looking gully from just off the path on the way up Lincoln, very steep....


We made the summit of Mt. Lincoln in about a half hour or so after dropping down from Cameron's summit, maybe a little more, but the traverse over was pretty easy, by 14er trail standards anyway....

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Summit shot #3 of the day. Mt. Lincoln


After another 10-15 minute break, we began a longer, more tedious slog over to Bross.


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Descending Lincoln and over to Bross. Decent tail, albeit not very scenic


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Looking over to the summit of Mt. Bross from the saddle between it and Mt. Lincoln...not pretty.


We made the summit of Bross about 10 am, the winds were considerably stronger on this summit, so we used a rock windbreak to sit and relax for a while, watching the conga line that had consistently gotten more and more populous as the day went along. The parking area 2000 ft below us had filled up and the overflow ran as far as we could see down the road towards Alma, so I was glad we got an early start.

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Summit #4. Mt. Democrat in the background.


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The winds were slightly stronger here and colder than what we had dealt with on the other three peaks.


Then came the part that we really had been dreading....the descent of the scree infested slopes that Bross is known for. It was literally like walking down a hill made of rough marbles....I ended up falling on my keester several times. Some folks actually jogged downhill past us, which may have been the smart thing to do. But we crept down the hill and made it back to the Kite Lake parking lot right around noon. We celebrated with some cold beers, visited with several others that had made the loop, and then headed back to the cabin....eventually heading in to Buena Vista for some BBQ at a place called Punky's (which I think has since closed) and then some drinks and relaxing at The Lariat.

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The chossy, ugly descent down Mt. Bross....I know why people don't like this trail


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Looking down towards the vicinity of the TH and some more of the trail


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Some old mine roads and what looked like a small shack of some kind


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Old mine shaft just below the summit of Bross


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Ugh, still a scree-fest. This descent was one of the least enjoyable ones I can remember.


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Finally, Kite Lake is in view....we are almost there


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Zoomed in on Trey during the descent...I ended up taking a cue from others and tried jogging slowly down Bross…actually made the descent better.


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Kite Lake TH filled up to the brim....Our car is on the far right side of the parking area


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There were some nice wildflowers on the lower portion of the slopes


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Looking back over to the west from Bross during the descent


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Looking up towards Mt. Cameron from the base of Mt. Bross


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Looking back up at the ugly slopes of Bross...would not want to ascend this at all


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Cool little waterfall


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Kite Lake and some of the area that we saw some tents set up earlier that morning


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Trey was just a few minutes behind us.


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Celebratory post-hike beverages and picture. Not usually a Silver Bullet fan, but they tasted pretty awesome on this day.


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Trey kind of sums up our thoughts after that Bross descent.

Ok. I'll do my typical summary of thoughts and pointers on this hike, despite being over a decade ago I still remember a lot about it. First off, water....Kite Lake itself is the only real source of water, there are no real sources other than maybe some snow, but this hike isn't very long. I still had over half of my CamelBak 2.5 liter hydration bladder left once the hike was over...but it was not hot at all the day we hiked, so plan accordingly. This hike was pretty straightforward, although somehow we got off trail on the way up Mt. Democrat and ended up on some steep, loose rocks for a while. We were able to correct that mistake without incident and the rest of the hike was without issue. The views from the summits of all four peaks are pretty cool, although the views from Lincoln were my favorites. The most exposure on this entire hike was pretty much while on the summit of Lincoln...it's not really even exposure, just the smallest summit of the hike. Cameron and Bross are pretty much acres of summit space. The drive to Kite Lake is easy for any vehicle, but you will want to get there super early....that place fills up fast and after that Bross descent you will hate yourself for adding any unnecessary mileage at the end of the trek.





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 Comments or Questions
Jay521

Super cool...
10/25/2019 09:30
It's deja vu all over again, eh? Nice report!



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