Hi all – Sarah here!! So, Jeff and I have now been married for 5 and a half months, and I’m happy to say that we have not missed one Date night. Usually we have them on Friday nights, but if I have to shoot a wedding on a Friday night, we always do something on Saturday.
For New Year’s Day we both had the day off and wanted to get out and do something; We aren’t drinkers, and went to bed at a semi-decent time the night before (before 1 is decent, right?), so we had an entire day ahead of us with nothing to do. I didn’t want to spend the first day of the year lounging or being lazy, but we don’t have any family in the area, and all of our friends who live here do have family in the area (and want to spend holidays with them). So we decided to do something different on New Year’s Day; Jeff and I went and hiked Camelback Mountain!
Jeff always sees hikers on his commute into Phoenix, and had been wanting to do the hike sometime. I had hiked it about two years ago when I was living with a friend in Phoenix and interning for Serendipity. I was in about the same shape then as I am now (which is to say, definitely not at my peak – next step, New Year’s Resolutions!!), and I remember the trail being difficult but do-able, which seemed like the perfect combo. I called up my friend and got the details, looked up the info, and we were off!
It was actually pretty difficult finding the information about where we were supposed to go, but once we figured it out it was easy to get there. To save you the hassle, here it is; The trail we were looking for – Cholla Trail – doesn’t have a parking lot, so you have to park on Invergordon Road (east of the Mountain) between Cholla Lane and Camelback Road in Phoenix, then ‘hike’ up the street, turn onto another street, and walk up to the head of the trail where you can finally begin your hike!
It was a beautiful clear day – a bit chilly when we left in the morning, but perfect for a hike. In this area, now is the perfect time for outdoor activities; Once the spring or summer rolls around, hiking a mountain is just a bad idea – it’s dangerous to be hiking when it’s 115 degrees outside. Also, make sure you’re done with your hike by sunset – I can’t think of many things scarier than coming down that thing in the dark.
There were lots of people out on the trail on the First of the Year. It was good for us too, because, while most of the trail is pretty clearly marked, there are a few places where we weren’t too sure where to go. It always seemed though that right when we were questioning where to go, somebody would come around a boulder, or pop out from around the bend. It was really nice that there were so many people! People are pretty courteous in waiting for others to pass then, or allowing someone coming down to go first, etc. It was nice to say hello and Happy New Year to total strangers!
One thing I noticed as well was that there were all kinds of people hiking – people with dogs, people with babies, old people, children; At one point we were passed by two men with climbing equipment, and when we got to the top, they were repelling down one side of the mountain! We saw people who were obviously avid hikers and had the gear for it, and others in sandals and blue jeans with their children in tow… However, I would advise against the wearing of jeans and/or sandals. Cholla is not like a leisurely hike in a grassy knoll – there are parts where you are climbing up rocks. You use your hands to steady yourself and to pull yourself up, and your feet are looking for any kind of gripping to catch on to, to give you the leverage to get up these huge rocks. There are a few points where you’re on a narrow ridge and can see down both sides of the mountain. It’s actually pretty neat.
Here we are once we reached the top!!
…Then you have to go back down, which is the real tricky part. The way up is a cardio workout and definitely a leg workout, and like I said earlier, you use your arms as well. The way down is a balancing act – You have to stay low, crab walk, lower yourself down, and watch out that you don’t slip on gravel (which we saw happen to several people!!)! My thighs are are sore from the way up, and my shoulders are sore from the way down!!!
There are all kinds of lessens learned from climbing a mountain on the first of the year – setting a precedent for health, taking things one step at a time, looking up, etc… But I think I’ll forego all of the lessons and let you have your own experience. If you haven’t hiked Camelback, definitely consider putting it on your list of things to do this year.