We got up at 5am with a goal of getting to the mountain around 7 or so to start our hike. Today we were going to accomplish our first 14’er ( a mountain 14,000 foot about sea level). Not only that, we were going to do 3 others in the same day! Located outside Alma, CO. Mounts Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross are all 14’ers and located on a single trail thats about 8 miles round trip. From the internet we had seen some people did them in about 5 hours so we were guessing maybe a bit slower since we were not used to the elevation - we were right there.
![blogPics](/static/img/denver1/denver0.jpg "The drive to the hike")Driving out from Denver we started at about 5800 ft above sea level and when we started going over the mountains that easily double - on just the car ride. The views were awesome though and just seeing some of the small towns located in the mountains was a pretty cool experience.
![blogPics](/static/img/denver1/denver1.jpg "Kite Lake Trailhead") By the time we made it to the Kite Lake Trailhead, we were at about 11800 feet elevation. The parking lot was packed and we were some of the last people to start the hike that day. Just walking up the parking lot you could notice the lack of oxygen in the air.
![blogPics](/static/img/denver1/denver2.jpg "Just breathe and hike") On top of that, we were some of the few to decide to do the hike in the opposite direction. We hiked up Bross first which is notably difficult because of its steepness and loose gravel. We thought this might be easier to get out of the way first, but i don't think that was the case. It burnt us out hard core just on the way up.
![blogPics](/static/img/denver1/denver3.jpg "Gaining elevation") Once we reached the top, we were pretty excited. The wind was blowing about 30 mph which changed our mind quickly because you could start to feel the cold. At 14k feet, it was about 34 degrees and then the wind on top made it feel really cold. Luckily someone had built a barrier from rocks which we could sit behind and get a break from the bombarding wind. Another tip about the elevation, you are breathing in about half the oxygen you would at sea level , I found that my breathing stayed about the same, but my heart beat would not slow back down. This eventually caused a sense of lightheadedness but i spose that is something acclimation would help resolve.
![blogPics](/static/img/denver1/denver4.jpg "Mount Bross") From Mt. Bross, we proceeded over to the other mountains. We did Mt. Lincoln next and that was not to bad. We were still feeling good and hit that one without problem. The hike stated right under 14k feet which made the transition fairly easy.
![blogPics](/static/img/denver1/denver5.jpg "Mount Lincoln") After Lincoln we walked up to Mt. Cameron. This one was the easiest as we were coming from elevation still and the top looked more like a hill than a peak. Once we got to the top of this one, we found some shelter from the wind and ate some lunch which we were pretty ready for.
![blogPics](/static/img/denver1/denver6.jpg "Mount Cameron") The next part was when things started getting tough. At this point, the lack of air and physical exertion was starting to catch up to us. It's a totally different experience exerting energy at that high of an altitude, and it's no joke. From Cameron, we had to hike down about 1200 feet only to hike back up about 1300 feet or so for Democrat.
![blogPics](/static/img/denver1/denver7.jpg "View from the top") Hiking up Democrat was pretty tough because there was no good trail. You were walking/climbing up large chunks of gravel that often gave way. Getting to the top of this one really wore us both out, and from Kristens words “This is Gravel Mountain 2.0”. (Check out our backpacking Denali post for more).
![blogPics](/static/img/denver1/denver8.jpg "Mount Democray") Once we reached the top, we screamed and hollered because we made it! At this point, we were the only ones left on the mountain. All the reverse direction hikers were on the other end of Bross on their way down. We took a moment to get our breath back and then headed back down to the parking lot.
![blogPics](/static/img/denver1/denver9.jpg "On the way down") We got in our car and headed back home. Our heads both pounding because of the “overexertion at high altitude” thing. I think if we were to better prepare, we would have drank more water the day before and also loaded up on a carb dinner similar to a big run you might do. We just ran out of energy to burn at some point. Once we made it home, we made some quick dinner and then watched “Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown” till we fell asleep.