Sawyer’s 1st 14er Summit

Well, you definitely never know how things will turn out with a 9 month old on just about any outdoor adventure much less taking her to over 14,000′. You just got to be very flexible as parents and go with the flow. Sometimes we do have to turn around on a hike or leave the climbing crag because she is over tired or because of any one of a number of other reasons. Sometimes she is very happy and can stretch her awake time without getting too fussy. One thing we do know is that there is no predictability :) Nevertheless, we wanted to give a 14er a go with Sawyer. Make it a nice family outing on a shorter 14er so even Rainie could go. We thought of the easy and very accessible 14ers above Kite Lake in the Mosquito Range south of Breckenridge & Quandary Peak and figured Mt. Democrat would fit the bill nicely. In addition to only being 4 miles roundtrip and 2,250′ of elevation gain, there was Kite Lake at the trailhead so Rainie could go swimming before/after to stay cool. I had never seen so many cars (even a tour bus!) at a trailhead (well, except for Longs Peak, I guess) and we had to park 1/4 mile down the Kite Lake road at about 11,800′.

Kristine carrying Sawyer in the Ergo carrier on her front side with Kite Lake behind. Fortuantely, Sawyer was asleep at this moment

Kristine carrying Sawyer in the Ergo carrier on her front side with Kite Lake behind. Fortuantely, Sawyer was asleep at this moment

Sawyer didn’t nap much on the way to the Kite Lake trailhead, so she was a little unhappy at the beginning of the hike. But, she fell asleep on the gradual hike maybe 20-30 minutes from the trailhead. This was a BIG relief to Kristine & myself.

Making our way up to the Democrat/Cameron saddle at 13,400'

Making our way up to the Democrat/Cameron saddle at 13,400′

Sawyer's K9 protectors

Sawyer’s K9 protectors

Sawyer slept for 45 minutes or so and woke up right as we crested the 13,400′ saddle between Democrat and Cameron. Hikers kept commenting to us upon seeing Sawyer in Kristine’s Ergo carrier, “Wow, there is a baby in there?” Funny stuff. We all took a break and snacked for 15-20 minutes at the saddle.

At the 13,400' Democrat/Cameron saddle

At the 13,400′ Democrat/Cameron saddle

Rainie standing guard as Sawyer gets a snack

Rainie standing guard as Sawyer gets a snack

Having had a good nap, we transitioned Sawyer to the backpack and loaded it up on my back. We love this Kelty backpack – it fits Sawyer very well. One observation that we had were the number of folks on these 14ers. Even on a Friday, the masses were astounding. I mean I know these 14ers are some of the easiest and most accessible and thus most popular 14ers in the state, but all I could think was just “wow”. I honestly haven’t been on of these popular 14ers in the summer in over a decade and the crowds these days are sure different than they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Sawyer and I making our way up Democrat's class 2 east ridge with Mt. Cameron behind us

Sawyer and I making our way up Democrat’s class 2 east ridge with Mt. Cameron behind us

The weather (cloud building) was a little intimidating and obviously we didn’t want to be caught out in a storm with a baby, but the weather held off just fine as we made our way to the summit. We sort of got off the trail and climbed the east ridge direct in order to avoid the crowds coming down the main trail consisting of loose scree/boulders. Rainie did wonderful on the off-trail boulder hopping and I believe people were equally impressed with 12-1/2 year old Rainie making her way up another 14er as they were with us having a 9 month old in the backpack.

Almost to the summit

Almost to the summit

We crested the summit maybe an hour and 45 minutes after leaving the trailhead. Not bad at all. The weather was holding and we got a few pics. Sawyer was really a trooper and not very much did I even hear a fuss from her – mainly just her squeals and laughs. She seems the happiest in┬áthe outdoors just like the rest of her family.

Sawyer on top of her 1st 14er!

Sawyer on top of her 1st 14er!

Mt. Democrat summit (14,148')...Sawyer did so extremely well.

Mt. Democrat summit (14,148′)…Sawyer did so extremely well.

Me, Rainie, & Sawyer on top of Democrat

Me, Rainie, & Sawyer on top of Democrat

Being on the summit reminded me of the last time I was on Democrat with Rainier and Kristine in the winter of 2004.

A younger Kristine, Rainier, & myself on top of Democrat 11 years ago

A younger Kristine, Rainier, & myself on top of Democrat 11 years ago

We then motored down the summit ridge and back onto the standard east ridge trail and back down to the saddle.

Happy that it all worked out this day

Happy that it all worked out this day

Sawyer again had a snack as I gave the dogs some food once we got well below the saddle and then she really did well in the backpack all the way back down to Kite Lake. She was a happy camper back down in the meadows on the shores of Kite lake while Rainie swam again.

A girl and her dog

A girl and her dog

Happy Sawyer

Happy Sawyer

I think I did something funny here

I think I did something funny here

It was a very memorable day for Kristine and myself and we were/are so proud of Sawyer for being a trooper up a 14er. Not that we’d want to attempt a 14er every weekend with her, but maybe another one is in the cards before the snows come. Not that Sawyer will remember anything about this day, but we are hopeful she’ll look back at these pictures and say “wow, my parents carried me up a 14er when I was 9 months old”.

The three of us with Mt. Democrat behind

The three of us with Mt. Democrat behind

4 Comments

  1. oh B & K, this may be my favorite post to date! Love the family adventure with all present! Way to go Rainie…….Sawyer the trooper! Think she is going to be a “climbing machine” like her mom & dad! Love to all! Aunt Evon

    Reply
    • Thanks, Evonnie!! Hope she does enjoy the hiking/climbing like her mom & dad!

      Reply
  2. What a family!!! Congrats Sawyer! When you learn to talk you’ll enjoy making fun of all those city slickers you passed on the way up. Oh and it was great to finally meet you on Sunday! Thanks for having pizza and beers with me. Brando you were on Democrat 11 years ago. 11 years ago I didn’t even know where CO was buddy! :)

    Reply
    • Thanks, Dillon! Great to see you the other day as well. Yes, buddy, 11 yrs ago. I am an old soul, my man.

      Reply

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