June 22, 2016
Today was our 7th wedding anniversary. We wanted to do something extra big, something extra fun, something extra challenging. So we decided to attempt our first 14er! There are about 58 peaks in Colorado that are above 14,000′ so you have your choice. We had done research earlier in case we would be able to attempt one. We chose Mount Democrat, which is on the Mosquito Range of the Rocky Mountains. At around 4 miles round trip, dogs and kids are able to do this hike. We thought, well if kids can do it, we sure as heck better be able to. So we drove from our spot in Leadville and got to the mountain around 11:00 a.m. Normally this would be pretty late and not recommended to hike, but the weather was perfect and we were hoping to get up and back in 3 hours.
The road to get to the parking lot is terrible. One of the worst roads that i have ever been on. From Alma Junction (On the GPS it says Alma and Alma Junction, it’s the Junction you want, not the main part of town.) you have to locate the small sign that says “Kite Lake” on it, it’s really small and easy to miss. Coming from the south it’s on the left. It’s then about a 6 mile drive and there are some pretty interesting markers along the way.
You have to pay $3 a car for the parking lot but there were some huge grooves getting to it so most people just parked before that on the road and it’s free. There is also a camp site there in case you are there when it’s warmer and can enjoy the lakes nearby and Kite Lake. I was a little nervous about the altitude but we had been in Colorado for about 35 days and so we felt like we should be good. You can actually do three 14ers right here, but we decided 1 was good enough.
After you walk through the parking lot there are three large signs with information and maps. There are also toilets. When you are looking at the signs go to the right to get to the trail. You will have a couple stream crossings.
This is a picture from the road. It’s the inside peak from the two on the right.
The trail was beautiful in a mountain way. There were birds and flowers everywhere.
This is about the half way point. The view of the valley was crazy. It looked a lot farther away. The sun came out for us which boosted our confidence.
Just after this point the harder parts started. We had to find our way through this, but I guess it’s easy enough, you just keep going up! (There are spots where it is hard to find the trail here and there but there are a lot of signs that you can follow that are actually telling you where to stay off and actual trail signs.)
We reached the snow!
WE MADE IT TO THE TOP!!!!!
We met some nice high school students at the top who took our picture and then we noticed that we also had some other guests! Mountain Goats!
I have never seen mountain goats before. I loved being able to see them in the wild, in their natural habitat. We had to work to see this. **DO NOT FEED THEM**
You can see the road that we drove in from the top. It was awesome being above other mountains. You felt like you could touch the sky.
Our goal is to continuously challenge ourselves. Our goals have changed as we have embarked on this journey. What makes us feel accomplished has changed as well. What else can challenge you mentally, physically, emotionally? We will continue to push ourselves until we can no longer and even then, we will try and find a way…
The other side had a road had a mine. Last one of the goats. I got a little carried away.
We stayed at the top a little longer than we thought chatting with the “kids” and taking pictures. With the late start and sitting at the top longer than expected we got sprinkled on on the way down.
The total hike was 4 miles, with a 2,150 gain and 3 hours. We did see kids and dogs on the hike that made it to the top! Even though it is considered one of the easier 14ers it’s still tough and our lungs were feeling it but we were fine the entire time. Just take it slow and steady. Everyone’s journey is different, even if the goal is the same. Don’t compare yours to anyone else’s.
TIPS: Bring a lot of water to keep hydrated and some snacks. Bring a thin layer if the wind picks up. We were lucky to have only 2 spots where there were wind gusts. It was completely still at the top!
We are so happy to have a 14er under our belts!
For all who love pinning! We appreciate the love!