Camelback Mountain Phoenix Arizona Hike

One Legged Mountain Climber

One Legged Mountain Climber

Last week I was finally able to make it out to the Phoenix Arizona area as my daughter goes to school at Arizona State University (Forks Up!!) and one of the things I wanted to do while I was there and she was taking some classes was to go on some of the best hikes in the area being Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak.

Both are considered to be extremely dangerous and double black diamond trails due to the risk of death associated with heat/dehydration, unsafe trails and potentially dangerous wildlife such as rattle snakes and Gila monsters.

The flight there had a lot of turbulence and while I was feeling somewhat better the next morning when I was to go on the first hike I felt a little off, but felt getting out in the fresh air would do me well.  Fortunately it was still somewhat cool in terms of AZ weather in the low 70's which was perfect for me coming from the 30-40's in Central NY.

As I started out the hike I took in the beauty of the area and having parked in the lower lot enjoyed a steady incline of pavement and easy paths.

After the main parking lot the trail starts as a relatively smooth switchback of dirt and gravel but very level overall...but that was only for a short while.

One Legged Mountain Climber

Quickly the trail become steep and even very rocky at parts and I while I was near the beginning of the trail still the next thing I see is this man flying down the course...on crutches...and only ONE leg!  He was maneuvering the course as though he has memorized it and new every place to land his crutches and step so as to not slip anywhere or lose his balance.

I was in awe!  Right then and there it was a reminder that you should never quit.  While I had it in my mind I was going to make it to the top this quickly shot a phrase into my head for many of the people of the world who sit back and complain that life sucks or isn't fair..."What's your excuse?"

Seriously, I understand people do have certain issues that prohibit them from carrying out select activities but as they say, where there's a will, there's a way!

This guy has the extreme will and while I did not interrupt his descent at a rapid pace, nor did I think of taking a picture or video to capture the moment, it stuck with me through the whole hike and even more so when I saw something else later on!

Out of Breath and Dizzy

I typically consider myself to be in pretty great shape...not amazing, but also not bad, as a 46 year old father of three girls.  As I had mentioned the flight the previous day was pretty shaky and turbulent and my stomach and head were off with some slight vertigo and blah feelings.  I was feeling better this morning but as I continued to ascend the mountain and get higher, the combination of heights, looking down in certain places and up in others, continually feeling like I was doing squats as I stepped from rock to rock to climb I would need to take a break, catch my breath and perhaps get my bearings and a sip of water.

The quads, hamstrings, glutes and all joints around my hip, knees and ankles were definitely getting a workout, but I refused to quit.  Stopping and resting was ok, but there was no stop until the top.

I was surprised by the amount of people on the mountain this day and saw people of every age and physical shape/ability from what looked like a 3-4 year old taking on the rocks to some who appeared to maybe be in their 70's when I also saw someone carrying there child in a backpack up the hill again.

So now twice I am thinking there is no way that I can quit.  If one man can do it with only one leg and another can do it with a child on their back, then there surely is no excuse for me...outside of physically passing out from dehydration or similar...though I did come prepared with a liter of water so when I felt the need to rest or catch my breath, chat with people or let people pass down or up where the trail narrows I made do and grabbed another quick sip.

Climax at Camelback Mountain

Enjoying the Moment

After  what took much longer than I had anticipated, I made it to the climax of Camelback Mountain and was welcomed to a full 360 degree view of the greater Phoenix, AZ area.  I found a rock to sit on that looked as though it was the highest spot on the peak and took in the moment to catch my breath, drink some more water, people watch and chat with some of the other hikers who had made it there as well.

Each person went through their own efforts to get there and I was happy for them in achieving that goal.  They refused to quit as well and that is really what it is all about in life.  Never give up and never give in on those things you truly want to see success in.

It' is those who persist that see the most results and as I always tell my players, students and others: You get out of it what you put into it!

Climax at Camelback Mountain Dave Gardner

The Descent

I was worried about the trip back down as my legs were already quite spent and going up something is a totally different group of muscles and support compared to going down something but once I got my breath back and felt rested and hydrated enough I decided to get myself up and make the descent back down Camelback Mountain.  Surprisingly it went a lot smoother and quicker than I had anticipated which was good.  While there were some areas where it was necessary to get on your butt and scoot down or hold onto another rock to provide some balance it went well.

A couple times the ankle slightly started to roll but I gained my balance again and in some areas you could move faster and not worry about falling off the edge of the cliff to imminent danger or possible death.  This also allowed the way back down to take almost half the time it took for me to get up.  Still allowing people to pass or having to stop for a quick second, overall it seemed to go by in a blur compared to the hike up hill.

At the bottom some people were talking to the staff of the park and how they often have two or so rescues a day in the hotter months due to dehydration or sometimes injuries, so I was glad it had been a cooler day in regards to it not being 100 degrees like it can be in the summer months in Arizona.  As I continued down the path towards my car knowing I had achieved what I set out in reaching the peak of Camelback mountain I set my sites on a quick shower then heading to meet up with my daughter for some time with her.

Having and reaching goals is one thing, but also taking time to relax and celebrate those wins is great and keeps your life enjoyable and wanting to keep doing it over and over.

So be sure to never quit and make time for fun in the process!

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Dave Gardner

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