After Greg and I got married, we thought it would be a really cool tradition to summit a 14er each year on our anniversary. We started out strong and actually conquered two on our first anniversary. I remember the hike to Gray’s and Torrey’s being tough, but we also lived at sea level at the time and had just flown out the day before (I would like to do that hike again and see if it feels any easier, now that we’ve lived at 5300′ for a few years). On our second wedding anniversary, we did my favorite 14er to date, Mt. Bierstadt. That hike seemed much easier (and “easy” is a relative term, because any 14er is challenging) and I absolutely loved it. We also conquered Quandary Peak before the end of the season that year.
For the next two years, our plans got kind of screwed up. I had ACL surgery in late May of 2014, so I wasn’t quite ready for such a big hike by July. We drove up to Mt. Evans instead, so we could technically still summit a 14er on July 17th. In 2015, I had some bad luck again and broke my pelvis right before the start of summer. I was still on crutches on our anniversary, so obviously hiking was out of the question. Luckily there was still another 14er (Pike’s Peak) that we could summit by car, so we did just that. I was in decent enough shape to climb Mt. Evans by the very end of the summer, which was fun (but parts were a little scary).
I still have some lasting injuries from the car wreck I was in last year (which will be fixed at a later date), but I was actually well enough to continue our anniversary tradition this year (and SO grateful for that!). Greg and I have wanted to hike the Democrat-Cameron-Lincoln-Bross loop for awhile now, since you can knock out all four on the same hike. We did some research beforehand and decided that this was our plan for our fifth anniversary (which was on July 17, 2016). We thought about camping overnight (and in retrospect, we should have), but decided to head out to Breckenridge the day before and stay at a hotel there (since it’s only about 45 minutes from the trailhead). We went out to dinner the night before and tried to go to bed early, but I was so anxious that I probably ended up getting around 3 hours of sleep total.
The alarm went off at 4:30 am and we quickly checked ourselves out of the hotel and headed to the Kite Lake trailhead. Once we got there, we had to park about a mile and a half away (due to some jackass telling us that there wasn’t any available parking near the trailhead), so we had a nice warm-up before actually starting the hike. The sun was just coming up, and it was beautiful!
After waiting in a long bathroom line, we were finally off to start our big hike (around 7:30 am). We decided to do the traditional clockwise route and started with Mt. Democrat as our first summit. The trail started off pretty easy, which is a relative term because just breathing at 12,000′ is a bit challenging.