Baby’s first 14er attempt

Joe just turned three and, by Boulder standards, is seriously behind in his mountain climbing.  Several of his little friends have been up three or four fourteeners already!  What a slacker.  But summer’s still hanging on, so we set out to rectify the situation and get in some camping as well.  Kite Lake seemed like the obvious choice; a high trailhead with easy access to three interesting-but-easy 14ers.  I was up here seven years ago and bagged all three (or four) available peaks and remember Kite Lake being the prettiest part of the whole area.

Campsite #7 (out of five) at Kite Lake. Not bad for car camping!

Well, it didn’t turn out completely successfully.  The camping was very nice.  Just the opportunity to car camp at 12,000′ is pretty cool and we found a gorgeous campsite on the west side of the lake out of sight of the crowded trailhead, but only a hundred yards distant.  Wildflowers everywhere even in this late season, right on the lake, great views and relatively sheltered from the wind.  But it was pretty cold and no one slept well.  Joe was up half the night worried about the robots and monsters which were cruising the campsite.

Exploring the entrance to an old mine below Lake Emma.

We woke to unpromising weather (though not outright bad) and weren’t feeling great.  The wind up on the ridge to the summit of Mt. Democrat (our main goal) was likely to be pretty cold.  Aiming to keep it fun, we hiked a short trail in the opposite direction from all the 14er-baggers and ended up at the scenic Lake Emma at 12,600′.  On the way, we cruised through a lovely hanging valley, observed a handful of marmots, lots of flowers, and explored an abandoned mine.

And we stopped for ice cream on the way home, so everyone was happy.  Good times, despite no summits.

Lake Emma at 12,600' below the uninviting south ridge of Mt. Democrat.

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