Monday, February 23, 2015

Sticking myself out there: Finally hiking Camelback Mountain

Unless you’re a golfer or are looking for a “Botox vacation”, Phoenix isn’t exactly a tourist destination. Sure, Arizona has the Grand Canyon and the petrified forest, but those are 3 hours away.  So, whenever anyone visits and asks me what to do for fun in the city, I always look at them with a bit of a dumbfounded look (wait, actually, that is just my face).  Of course, there is the normal big city stuff, but nothing that is all that particularly awe inspiring.  (That is unless you think urban sprawl and Buffalo Wild Wings are amazorbs and in that case get your boneless wings on.)

Two snaps for urban sprawl!!  Heyyyyy!!

The one exception? Hiking. There are lots of amazing desert hiking trails in and around the Phoenix area.  Camelback Mountain is one of the more famous ones rising 1300 feet (for a total elevation of 2700) above the most fancy part of the city. I’ve suggested it as a fun hike for old and young to help pass the time between stops to strip malls or luxury med spas. The only catch? In spite of living here for nearly 7 years I’ve never hiked it myself. Oops.  This weekend I decided that streak needed to end.

One of my never published new years resolutions was to break out of my normal routine and stick myself out there a bit more.  That goal is of course terrible as it is neither measurable or necessarily accountable, but I’m trying my best to make it a reality.

None of the pictures I took were as good as ones I could steal off the internet!
Photo credit: The Internet

So, after dropping off my son, I hopped on the motorcycle and drove to where the fancy people lived (Scottsdale / Paradise Valley) to start on my hike. A storm front had blew in which meant that it was cloudy, 5 degrees cooler than normal, and a bit breezy. (Hopefully the sarcasm comes through on that.) It was perfect hiking weather!

I decided to take the “easy but long” trail to the top.  At just under 2 miles to the top, it was obviously a man who tagged it with the “long” moniker. But, what it lacks in length it makes up for in variety and scenery (something many boring runner “companions” have heard all too often).  It starts out somewhat runnable, but then slows to a (literal) crawl as it gets increasingly technical for the last 1/2 mile. Honestly, it is probably technical enough that some of the people who I recommended it to I probably shouldn’t’ have.

Sand and and trees and stucco as far as the eye can see

I ran when I could and scrambled around people as politely as I thought I could get away with and 40 minutes later I was a the top. With 360 degree views of the city, it was really a sight to be seen.  The “mountain” itself is visible from all parts of the valley and thus even in spite of the clouds and haze you could see for miles and miles in either direction.

After a few obligatory social media style selfies, I started on the scamper down. Like on the way up, I tried to go essentially as fast as I could to show off to all of the fancy Scottsdale ladies more to see if I could than anything else. It was really fun to slip and slide all the way down with careless abandon.  Of course, I was ever conscious of my sore knee and tried to baby it as much as I could.

Teeth and Sweat: A memoir by Adam

Before I knew it, I was down. 75 minutes / 4 miles / 1300ish feet of elevation. The shocking thing? My busted up knee felt AMAZING. As in, better than it had all week. So, I’m not sure if the stress I put it under knocked it back into alignment or if maybe my pain is some sort of psychosomatic thing. Either way, I’ll take it as a win.  Of course, since I'm now obviously an expert mountain climber and trail runner, I'll go ahead and start on my EPIC trail beard.

Overall, I really really liked hiking this mountain.  It was a busy trial, but I can see why.  There were great views and enough of a technical challenge to keep things interesting both up and down. Score one for the sticking it out there goal.


Kate Geisen said...

I'm pretty sure I hiked camelback mountain when I was in 8th grade visiting my grade school best friend who'd moved to Tempe. Also, having been there this summer, I wouldn't rate the Painted Desert as worth a 3 hour trip, national park status notwithstanding.

Gracie said...

Maybe you just really needed to use some stabilizing muscles!

ltlindian said...

I hiked up Camelback when I was in Phoenix with a friend many many years ago. It was a nice hike, as I remember.

Kovas Palubinskas said...

Teeth and Sweat: A memoir is bound to be big on Netflix (I'm sure the critics will pan it since there is no way they can understand it)

Elaine said...

You are lucky to have hiking options nearby. That looks like a lot of fun.