Sunday, February 26, 2006

1264 Feet


I hiked to the summit of Phoenix's Camelback Mountain yesterday via the Echo Canyon trail. It was one of those things I'd been meaning to do for years and years. Camelback is virtually in my back yard. It's the centerpiece of the view I enjoy from the desk where I'm typing these lines.

Climbing to the summit of Camelback is a lot more challenging than my more usual weekend walks. The Phoenix Camelback Mountain Trail Guide chracterizes the Echo Canyon trail as "strenuous and difficult". Climbing over Papago Butte is a piece of cake by comparison. You have be somewhat careful on both, but climbing Camelback involves an altitude gain of 1264 feet, during parts of which it's necessary to use hands and feet.

The climb took me 80 or 90 percent of way to my limits, and taught me that I need better hiking shoes. At one point during the decent my foot landed on a rock and I twisted my ankle. Just a hair more and I've have been in trouble.

I also learned not to try this again without wearing a sweatband. You can't see very well (a bit dangerous on this trail, particularly on the decent) with sweaty glasses.

The view from the top of Camelback is well worth the climb, as is the view along various parts of the trail. I particulary enjoyed the view looking back towards Echo Canyon from about a quarter of the way up. Unfortunately, my one regret is that I stupidly forgot to take my camera (even after having checked to be sure the battery was charged). I'll take my own pictures when I go again next week, but in the meantime there's always good old Google.

Happy Sunday!


jj mollo said...

I'm jealous. I've never been west of Texas and I can't really do the climbs any more. I imagine it's a good time of year to go. Take good care of your feet. You only get one set.

Sounds like you need a checklist. Here's one to start with, and here's one from the Red Cross. I notice that neither have a sweatband, but you can add it. You should also get one of the cell phones with a camera, which makes it harder to forget and easier to carry.

Your google link didn't work in my browser for some reason. The words show up in the command line but not in the search window. Maybe Google doesn't want it to work that way.

Steve said...

Sorry about the Google link. I didn't test it and now I see it doesn't work here either.

I messed around with Flickr links a little bit, but I don't think they like deep linking. If you like, visit Flickr, and then search for "camelback", of which people have uploaded lots of pictures (some of them pretty good, too).

Speaking of cell phones, the picture on the first page of hits, the one that shows a chain link fence on the right, is where my cell phone took about a 40 yard side trip down the hill in about six bounces and a final slide before another hiker stopped it under his shoe. Tough phone; it survived, though a little scratched up.

It's tough to do justice to the slope of the trail in that picture, but as the caption says, the grab rails are there of a reason! The wall on the left is pretty impressive, too, much higher than shown in the picture and jutting out over your head as you climb the trail.

I'll put some of my own pictures out there next week (assuming we don't get rain this weekend for the first time in about 4 months).

Yes, this is the time of year to be here. Payback time! Actually, though my wife disagrees, I think about nine months of the year are payback time here. Yeah, it gets hot, but you drink plenty of water, wear a hat, use sunscreen and start the day early. Once you're used to burning your hands on the steering wheel and the seat belt buckle you've made it!

Come on over some time, just don't do it July or August. That's when monsoon season usually kicks in and it's not a dry heat anymore! ;>)

jj mollo said...

I saw it! Too steep for me. It's on page 2 by now. There is a Camelback in PA also, by the way. BTW, your link is still not right.