Friday, July 2, 2010

Kite Lake Camping

Ever since last weekend all I can think about is hiking my next 14er. The adrenaline rush was just so tremendous and the accomplishment so great to me that I cannot wait to hike again. Unfortunately, most of our weekends are booked up from here until the end of July due to birthday celebrations and vacation. Determined to complete my goal of hiking 8 14ers for the summer, I began thinking of ways I could incorporate hiking into my weekend plans. Some friends of ours had wanted to go camping at the end of July so I started doing research on where we could camp and I could also sneak in my hiking expedition. No one had come up with any good spots yet, so ever the resourceful girl I came up with camping at Kite Lake (see some great photos here:

Kite Lake is a popular camping spot that is near Breckinridge which means it's only a short 1.5 hour drive or so for us from Denver. There aren't too many open bodies of water in Colorado as you can imagine so this is a real treat for us land locked people living here. Chad is from Michigan and I'm from Alabama so anytime we get the chance to be by a lake we'll take it. Open bodies of water are one of the things we miss most about our respective home states. Parking here in the summer is $3 and camping is $7 making it a very economical trip as well. Now we just have to buy a tent....

My ulterior motive for camping here, is of course hiking. After all, what good is camping if you don't have anything to do while you are out enjoying nature? Chad and I aren't big fishermen and we have a very hyper active dog so this seems the natural choice of how to pass the time saturday. Bonus is all that camp with us are welcome to hike as far as they want. I maintain anyone can hike a 14er but it does take some mental preparing and it helps if your thighs are muscular like mine (haha who's thunder thighs now?). I'm in luck with this particular spot too because the trail head at Kite Lake will enable us to climb Mt. Democrat, Lincoln and Bross all in one day (and Cameron as well but it's not recognized as a true 14er because the elevation gain between it and Mt. Lincoln is less than 300 feet. Mt. Democrat is 14,148, Lincoln is 14,286, Cameron is 14,238 and Bross is 14,172. Mt. Lincoln is the 8th highest mountain in Colorado.

If I can get three knocked out in one day then that only leaves me with 3 left to hike for the summer and I'll have almost achieved my goal. Of course it all depends on the weather conditions but I think the initial summit is the worst part so once I am up on Democrat not much else can stop me from climbing to the other two true 14ers. The return is about 5.4 miles with a 3,450 foot elevation gain. Kite Lake is in Alma which is the highest elevation town in America (10,361 whereas Denver is 5,280) so hopefully after a night of camping there we will be adjusted to the altitude and I won't get a splitting headache like I did after last week's hike. Just in case I'll be sure to bring my advil.

I'm just keeping my fingers crossed for a beautiful weekend of camping and hoping we can get up early hiking before any thunderstorms hit. July is the deadliest month for hikers climbing 14ers because of the lightening storms but if you hike safe you won't have to worry about getting hit. It's always better to save your hike for another day than risk it and have an accident happen. After last hike though I am going to make sure and bring a mini first aid kit. We banged our shins pretty good on a few rocks and I saw some people with cut up legs from falling and I don't want to take any chances.

For those of you interested in hiking out of Kite Lake I found these directions:
From Denver take I-70 west to exit 203, take Highway 9 south through Breckenridge to the town of Alma. Another route is Hwy 285 from Denver to Fairplay, then North 8 miles on Hwy 9 to Alma. Right across from a general store type building (Placer Trading Company) in the center of Alma head west up Buckskin Creek Road. You will know you are on the right road if you see the creek to your left. If you want to gain at least 3000 feet on the climb drive up the road about 4 miles and park at one of the turnouts. Its still a couple miles to the Kite Lake trail head at about 12,000 feet. You can drive a car most of the way, but there are a couple creeks crossing the road, and I would recommend scouting them before trying to cross them. A 4WD and good clearance can come in handy here. Once past the creeks its a short drive up the road to parking at Kite Lake. Most people start the climb from Kite Lake. An alternate route is the Hoosier Pass Approach and can be reached by heading north 2 miles from Alma. There a small poorly marked dirt road named Roberts Lane heads off to the left (west) and switchbacks eventually running into Mt Lincon Road. Check your topo to see where you want to park as the road leads quite a bit up to the summit of Lincoln. Road end to Lincoln, Democrat, Bross and return is 8.5 miles and 4800 ft gain.

Now all we need is some camping equipment. If I'm going to make a habit out of this hiking business I'm going to need some real hiking boots (sturdy but lightweight) as well as hiking sticks. My friend Gretchen has recommend: Hopefully I won't go broke affording my new hobby :)


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  3. Nice locations, I am also interested in hiking of Kite Lake. Yes it’s true that we need some camping equipments. Everyone think where we will go for camping what kind of equipments and tents required.