DeCaLiBron

View of the loop from the trailhead, we got started just before dawn.

My sister Mindy & I summited three 14ers in just under 7 hours including breaks. Mt Cameron (Difficulty – Class 2, summit elevation 14,238), Mt Lincoln (Difficulty – Class 2, summit elevation 14,295), Mt Bross (Difficulty – Class 1, summit elevation 14,178). According to my Garmin, the route was 5.23 miles round trip and total elevation gain was 3,425 feet from the trailhead. These peaks will make numbers nine, ten and eleven in my 14ers countdown.

This climb is unique because there are four 14ers clustered in proximity. Mindy and I hiked Democrat in 2015 and were turned around due to weather so this time we only needed to hike Cameron, Lincoln & Bross to complete the loop.

View on the saddle between Cameron & Lincoln

Since this is a highly trafficked hike I decided to try to really reduce the amount of gear I took with me to see if that would improve my hiking time. It was an astounding yes. I think I did a decent job for putting it together on short notice but I’m going to put more research into building a lighter-weight hiking kit.

My pack list

  • Osprey Skimmer 16 Hydration Pack
  • Snacks (Honey Stinger Energy Chews, Bobo Bar, NUUN Energy Hydration Tabs, PBJ bagel). Ended up eating both bags of Stingers, half the bar and PBJ bagel on the hike and two hydration tabs and the rest of the bagel when we were back at the parking lot.
  • Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket
  • Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie. I will buy this again and again, I was incredibly impressed with the product. I have a hard time staving away sunburns on hikes because I forget or don’t want to stop to reapply sunscreen especially when my face starts getting dusty or I’m getting too tired to care. I am completely sunburn free on my arms, neck and scalp the day after the hike and I can honestly say that has never been the case for me.
  • Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
  • Salomon Speedcross 5 Trail-Running Shoes
  • Platypus Platy 70 oz collapsible water bottle. I finished the water in my hydration pack but I didn’t end up drinking any of the water in the Platy although I should have! When we have a good pace going it’s so hard for me stop to take the time to refill my hydration pack. This bottle was one of the biggest weight reducers in my pack, I usually take a Nalgene.
  • Headlamp, buff, Garmin inReach mini. I forgot to leave the headlamp in my car – I didn’t need it because started we with enough light. The buff was redundant – I forgot I had the hood on my shirt for sun protection. Unusual packing decisions are often made at 4:30 in the morning with lack of sleep. I always hike with the inReach just in case.
  • Garmin fenix 6X Sapphire watch. I have used this watch since 2019 and it’s working just as well as the day I got it. I will do a more extensive post on my watch later but I absolutely love it for hiking.

These are the major changes that I made from packing for a typical hike:

  • I purchased a smaller hydration pack. The plum red is such a pretty color! I usually carry a 25-28 liter backpack. The major downside I noticed with carrying a smaller pack – specifically the one I bought – is that there were no loops or straps to throw my top layer or hiking poles onto my pack when not in use. I ended up just carrying my pole the whole time (Mindy used the second one). It wasn’t ideal but my poles are very light so it didn’t hinder by any means.
  • I decided to only wear two layers. I chose a very light long sleeve sun shirt and only wore that over a sports bra and then used my rain jacket as both warmth and just in case it rained. Typically I would pack a puffer for my second or third layer and have a rain coat stuffed in my backpack. Granted this is a summer hike and two layers really is all that I needed but I am notorious for overpacking and that has often been to my detriment over the years. I did second guess myself and put a tank top in my backpack at the last minute just in case the long sleeve was too hot. Baby steps. Preparedness without over packing has always been really hard for me.
  • The biggest game changer is my shoes. I’m hardheaded and have always just assumed that trekking boots needed to be bulky, heavy and frankly awful. While there is definitely a time and place for these boots, I have been overthinking it for a simple day hike. My sister has been recommending that I try Salomon trail running shoes for a while and let me tell you I am a convert. Having very little weight on my feet made the entire hike faster and much more enjoyable. The bottoms were grippy and kept my feet in place better and my toes felt much better at the end than they ever have before. I will be trying out a smaller size of the ones I bought because I did feel that there was a little bit too much room in the toe box but I will note that I bought the boots 24 hours before the hike and am beyond pleased with my purchase.
  • I finally purchased a collapsible water bottle, I have had this on my list for years and finally followed through. This is a no brainer, easily save some ounces in the pack.

Training

I have made a major shift from a heavier strength training load to focusing on cardio 4 days a week with one specific strength day and random abs added in after cardio. The cardio is mainly walking/running intervals for 2-3 miles with the focus spending as much time on my feet as possible to keep them conditioned. The extra cardio paid off, we kept moving at a good pace and did not need to take any substantially long breaks.

Final thoughts

Here are some of my thoughts on this hike. I have always just assumed if I trained enough, did enough strength exercises – then I should be able to carry any amount of gear. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that I just don’t need excessive gear. I took a lot of the things “just in case” and honestly rarely used those items and it’s nice to just leave them behind. I am so happy that I have changed that thought process and I’m excited for future hikes, I think they will be faster and much more comfortable.

Lastly – the downhill from Bross was relatively short but brutal. It was steep, the scree was so loose and my attitude about it was not great. It would have been an awful to climb up it as well so there really was no way around this portion of the hike other than just get through it. The views from Lincoln were my favorite and I am quite happy to mark this loop off of the list!

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Written by Rebekah Baier