28Dec09 - was an Awesome Day. Christopher and I ascended Camelback Mountain's Echo Canyon trail at 10am, with lots of trail mix, cashews, dried mango, and water. My son (garçon singe) scrambled up the 65% inclines with barely a hand-hold, while his father tried to not sustain any serious injuries. Got the windy top in 90 minutes, ate snacks, fed some chipmunks, drank 1/3 of our water, and headed back down the crowded trail to get to the parking lot at 1230, feeling fit and not too tired.
There's 2 trails to get up Camelback, the 2nd one is the Cholla Trail, from the East side.
So we drove the 8 miles around the mountain, and began the 2nd ascent. Another hour and a half later, we were at the top again, drank another 1/3 of our water, ate all the rest of the trail mix and nuts, saw 2 hawks hovering in the updraft looking for their lunch.
An hour later, we had descended off the mountain, avoiding falling to our deaths, and hobbled slowly to the car, not feeling as spry as we had felt the first time.
A few notable observations & recommendations:
1) Always use hand rails where they are provided. Trying to "not be a wimp" will lead to skinned knees, slips, falls... use the handy hand rails.
2) Take a walking stick. Yes, it makes you look slightly like Gandalf, but it helps not only on the ascent, but also on the descent as well, and aids in not falling. Several senior citizens we passed said "I should have brought a stick too". Christopher also used it on the 2nd descent when he temporarily twisted his left knee.
3) Don't take more than (2) 16 ounce bottles of water with you on a 2 and a 1/2 hour hike, when the ambient temperature is less than 60F. You CAN take more - but unless you're helping others, it's just additional weight.
4) Dress in layers. Easy to shed, after exertion and sweating. When the windchill starts to hit you, put your hat on.
5) wear gloves, for hand-holds. Essential if you don't want to abuse your fingers. I used handily leather-palmed, poly-backing Stanley[TM] gloves I picked up at Target for $9 before Christmas.
6) The Cholla trail has much fewer people on it than the Echo Canyon Trail. Cholla trail hikers also appear to be more alternative in their lifestyle, more hen pecked if they are hetero & hiking with their significant others, slower moving, and more intermittent. Echo Canyon hikers are wearing more name brand fashions, make-up, cologne, and ornamental doggies.
7) if you drank too much water, there's no porta-potties on the Cholla Trail. The Echo Canyon Trail has clean, well maintained porta potties (4 of them) at the parking lot.
8) If you're in a car or SUV that costs more than most starter homes, and you feel you're entitled to park in the 58 car parking lot at the base of Echo Canyon, it would be a good idea to Turn Off your idling vehicle as you wait for one of the limited spaces to become open from descended hikers. Christopher and I walked a mile to the Phoenix City limit to park on a side street that allows hiker parking, using a thimble of gasoline to do so. The trail up the mountain is only 1.5 miles and 1200 feet vertically. Walk the extra mile to parking spot. It won't hurt you, really.
9) On a 2nd ascent, when you're feeling really tired at the 3/4 of the way up point... and you're about to say "We've gone far enough, we can turn around now", seeing an obese Green Bay Packers fan (he wore the Green & Yellow shirt with commensurate logo) AARP member who had likely not seen his genitals since the Reagan administration due to his massive over-hanging gut, amble down some rocks about 50 yards ahead of you is a HUGE motivator, that "yes you can do this".
(To the left: Buddy Christ Pose!)
10) it is HIGHLY recommended to STRETCH after such a dual assault. Sitting and drinking beer (MGD, Dos XX & Bohemia) as you watch the favored Minnesota Vikings get beat in Over Time by the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, it NOT stretching. By the time we did yoga at 2pm on Tuesday, the lactic acid build up was quite painful.
Christopher's 2 weeks of visiting ma and pa here in Arizona has been fantastic. It'll be sad to see him go back to SC tomorrow. Next year, Pinnacle Peak and the Peralta Trail! ... and if I can find a way up Estrella Mountain that is legal... we'll do a 3600 footer instead.
1 year ago