On Sunday, we hiked Mount Democrat, elevation 14,148. I think the hike was about five miles round trip, but N’s fit bit claims it was seven. It took us about four hours, and it was a very vertical hike. We arrived the night beforehand with a plan to camp, but the parking area was actually already full. We were pretty surprised by how many other people had come to do the same thing. We decided that the best option was to fold down the seats of the car and sleep in the back. Our sleeping pads and bags fit perfectly, so we could each stretch out head to toe. We were amazed at how comfortable it was. The dogs, thankfully, slept in the front seats with their own nests made of blankets.
We woke up to the sound of other hikers preparing to depart. The sun was just starting to rise, and it was hard to leave the warm car to use the restroom and start packing the backpack. We were lucky, though, that the weather was perfect. It was sunny, but not hot. There were very few clouds in the sky, so we didn’t need to worry about lightning storms. The wildflowers were amazing. These photos don’t quite capture the huge variety of colors, but it was impressive.
This was our puppy’s first big hike, and she has boundless energy. I made her stay on the leash for the first part, just to make sure she wouldn’t take off like a wild banshee. Her (much) older brother is a very experienced hiker, very trustworthy, and cautiously waits for each person in his pack at each turn. He sweetly runs back to check on the last hiker if he hasn’t seen them in awhile, and then runs back up to the front to lead the way. I worried a little bit about whether he would have the stamina to summit another fourteener, since he is ten years old, but he did a fantastic job. He did pass out hard in the car on the way home, unsurprisingly.
The views from the summit were beautiful, but we were sharing them with many other hikers, which detracted from the experience. It was also quite windy at the top, which is to be expected. We sat and ate PB&J, even though it was only 9:00 a.m., gave the dogs cookies and water, and then headed back down. There are three other summits nearby, and initially I planned to do all three, but the trail was pretty crowded, and I did not want to push our luck with our older dog, so we returned to the trailhead. The descent was really lovely, because most of the hikers continued on the loop. We were mostly on our own, though we ran into several people who had gotten a late start. Our plan is to return in early September or maybe next summer to do the other portion of the loop and reach the other summits. I’m hopeful that once school is in session, less people will be up hiking on the weekends.
Overall, it was a fun experience. We had dinner in Breckenridge on the way up. We used Yelp to choose a place and even though it looked like a hole-in-the-wall bar, the food was terrific. I’m hopeful that once we have some kids, we are able to continue taking adventures like this.