After reveling in my very first Burro Days in Fairplay, Colorado, I headed up the road to the tiny town of Alma – the highest town in the U.S. – and then on to the highest campground in the country at Kite Lake. This was only the third time this summer that I have paid to stay in a campground (read my post on Boondocking 101: How To Camp For Free In Beautiful Places) but it’s not every night that you get to sleep at 12,000 feet!
Sometime in the middle of the night, it started raining and hailing, with the rain singing and the hail pinging against the trailer roof, it sounded cold outside, and I was ever so glad to be sleeping in my warm, dry Teardrop rather than a tent. The storm let up well before dawn, but when I opened the door, the air was heavy and the mountains were shrouded in fog. Undaunted I booted up, shouldered my pack and hit the trail at first light.
It’s best to get an early start when you have four 14,000-foot mountains on the to do list for the day: Mounts Democrat (14,148), Cameron (14,238), Lincoln (14,286) and Bross (14,172). Together these four mountains can be hiked in an 8-mile loop known as the “Decalibron” (for DEmocrat, CAmeron, LIncoln and BROss).
Right off the bat, the trailhead signboard had bad news: Mount Bross was closed to public access. Much of this area of the Mosquito Range is claimed by a number of mining companies and individual landowners. In 2005, due to liability concerns and ongoing problems with vandalism, the landowners shut down public access to all these mountains. The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative has worked hard to negotiate the reopening of Democrat, Cameron and Lincoln, but the summit of Bross is still closed. Bummer. I guess we’ll have to settle for three mountains in one day.
I admit I thought about giving the No Legal Public Access sign the finger and bagging Bross anyway. But I didn’t. I hate that these mountains are privately owned, and that the owners have left a dangerous mess, but the fact is that pubic access to privately owned places is a privilege, not a right. By trespassing I could be jeopardizing future access to the entire Decalibron trail and that’s just not good for my mountain Karma.
If you go: the road from Alma up to Kite Lake is rough, but doesn’t require 4WD. The Rover towed the Rattler up there just fine, but I wouldn’t recommend trying it with a trailer any longer than 10 feet.
There are a couple of places to camp for free before you get up to the campground itself, but none of the spots are very far off the road or especially level. The campground is $12 a night. The Decalibron is best hiked in a clockwise loop, starting with Democrat. Updated information about trail closures can be found on the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative website.
Wow that’s one hell of a hike, its stunning scenery despite the fog. I love the summit markers, but what a shame about Gross, its really wrong someone can own a mountain, why shouldn’t everyone get to enjoy such beauty. Fantastic hike and photos as always. x
I love your hiking descriptions. And what pictures! Have you done Mt. Whitney yet?
Nope, I haven’t. One of these summers I’ll have to cast my name into the permit lottery. I’d love to spend some time in the Sierras!
Respect to you for honouring private access. If more people did this we would have more access to private land! peace.
Reblogged this on Jesse Talks Back and commented:
Newby joining! Excellent pics and truly well written.
Welcome, Tony! Thanks for reading! M
Mary, what a great day of hiking. Love the foggy photos! One time when I was hiking up St. Mary’s Mountain in the Bitterroot Range, it was snowing so lightly that it looked like fog in the photos and gave great ambiance to the scene. Best to you, Carol PS – we are finally scheduled to leave for Idaho 2 weeks from today.
I’ve hiked up St. Mary’s a few times! What a great mountain. Love that fire tower on top! Sounds like a great day for photos! Good luck on your move to Idaho! New adventures await! Cheers, M
I like everyone of those pics, but most of all I miss the fog! We don’t get that in Utah with our 8% humidity. Looks like a great place:)
love the pics of your feet, makes me feel like I am there…but so cold and rainy 😦 makes me glad that I am in south florida and plan on going to beach today..
I really enjoy your photos! Your dog looks like its having a blast!
Oh yeah he lives for this. Altitude, what altitude? He’s not even panting at 14K! 🙂
Mary I have the latest pics if you would like them send me an email address
Kirk in Frederick
Hi Kirk, I just sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and it bounced back undeliverable. Do you have another address? Thanks! M
Love the Pictures! I thought that was a Bear at 1st in the Rover Rattler Picture, but then I noticed what seemed to be large tail? Plus 2 other Dogs I guess, so who were Your Beautiful Hiking companions? I only remembered one I thought pictured before, and it was not that Large! Keep on Hikin/Trukin! ♡ 8~} ♥And Campin! ♡
The fluffy dogs are Bowie the Bear my 11-year old border collie/ Newfoundland mix and D.O.G. aka Dio my 5 year old border collie/ chow/ purebred mutt. The black and white dog is Odin, my friend Drew’s one-eyed border collie mix. All rescues, all road trip professionals!
Sorry I don’t think the little box was checked in My last Post?
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