Sunday, October 22, 2017

Camelback at Dawn

Regrettably, for the last week, I've been doing nothing except sitting around getting fatter. Flab is the new 40.

I was out of town for work two weeks ago and caught a nasty bug which turned into a sinus infection and bronchitis. So, while I have wanted to do something/anything, even walking up the stairs put me into a coughing fit that seemed to go on for hours. So, what to do if you can't do something? Reminisce about old glory days! If only my HS coach would have put me in.....we would have totally won state.

Having lived in Phoenix for nearly 10 years, there are a few things that I've always wanted to do but never had the chance.  Ride a dolphin like a pony at the aquarium. One of the things at the very top of the list was hike to the top of Camelback Mountain at dawn and watch the sunrise. So, with nothing better to do two weeks ago, I set my alarm for 4am and was off!

Camelback Mountain is one of the central landmarks in the greater Phoenix area. It separates Scottsdale from Phoenix and sticks out like Mt Rainier in the middle of the city. There are two trails to the top, both somewhat short at 1.5 miles each way, but somewhat technical with a few bits of hand over hand climbing. Of course, that doesn't seem to phase the old guys in jeans with a 20oz water bottle and not much else power walking past me in the 110 degree heat...

Probably my favorite non-kid pic of the year

Hiking in the dark is honestly a bit scary - mostly because I'm afraid of snakes.  I didn't have a headlamp, so like most things I do in the dark, I was terrified, did it mostly by feel, sobbed and apologized for it being so fast afterwards, and tried to pretend like I knew what I was doing.  Thankfully the trail is pretty straight forward at the beginning and there was a full moon so there was plenty of light.  I was surprised that there weren't any more hikers on the trail than there were.  Oh, how wrong I was....

Me and one other person at the top waiting for the action to start

The hike itself wasn't bad at all.  I was able to maintain a consistent pace - running the flats and power hiking the uphills.  The tick tock of a 6:25am sunrise provided all of the motivation I needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other. In fact, at a total of 75 minutes of actual hiking time, it was a new record for fastest time top to bottom.

I made it to the top with 15 minutes to spare and secured a prime spot to stare at the sun Donald Trump style. You're not a true American unless you burn your eyeballs staring at the sun. The sky went from blue and orange hues to increasingly more ambers and yellows. And, before I knew it, the sun was cresting over the horizon lighting up the sky.

Another day begins. Just kidding it began 90 min before when my alarm went off

As the morning went on, the number of people hanging out on the top of the mountain grew and grew.  But, the views didn't get any less amazing - in spite of the people in the foreground of all of my pictures.

Panorama looking east

While the sunrise was cool, I have to admit that some of the prettiest things were not the actual sky but instead what the daybreak sun did to the rest of the city.  If I looked west, I could see shadows of buildings and even the shadow of the mountain I was standing on cast across central Phoenix.

Shadow of the mountain

Finally, with the number of people on the top of the mountain reaching critical mass, it was time to head down.  The nice thing about being one of the few people going down while everyone was going up was that I was able to run most of the way. What were once tough boulders that I was stair-stepping on were now the perfect distance apart to gazelle jump on all the way down.

Overall, I'm really glad I finally made the time to go on the hike. I've actually since started to look for other hikes that I could do early in the morning without fear of getting bit by a snake. I'm not sure there are any, but I'm willing to stumble around in the dark taking the chance if pictures like these are my reward!

They needed a meat counter ticket system.  "Now serving: Hiker number 302"


Melony Fisher said...

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Jh Kj said...

Absolutely beautiful!