Camel Back Mountain is easily Phoenix's most popular hike. In a city with 5 million people and only one decent mountain compared to the surrounding "rock clumps", Camel Back gets a ton of traffic. Because of it's central location in the city, and challenging path, it's in high demand. The trail appeals to the super rich skinny Scottsdale mamma's, the avid hikers, ASU athletes, and tourists alike. I also think it's cursed.
My parents were in town a few weeks ago, so I naturally felt obligated to comprise an agenda that would fill every minute of their vacation with the best of Phoenix. Hiking Camel Back was adventure number one, and it was a fail. I think the rest of the trip unfortunately followed suit.
The parking lot leading to Camel Back is a disaster. The trail head is located on the Scottsdale side of the hill. For those of you who aren't familiar with Scottsdale, think: winter homes for the disgustingly rich and famous. As a result, property in Scottsdale is hugely expensive and the parking lot reflects that--it's tiny. We had to wait in a long line with at least a dozen other cars just to get a spot in the lot. As one lone hiker would leave, the next fortunate car would pull in, and so on. However, only about one out of every 4 hikers was actually parked in the lot and not a mile down the road, so it was slow moving.
After patiently waiting, we finally claimed a spot in the lot, and got to hiking. A third of the way up, we lost Dad. We waited a while, and came back down to find him looking green. Actually grey. Either way--he looked terrible. He had been sick. My sympathies go out to those passing by. Think a narrow trail with a lot of traffic. Anyhow, that ended our first attempt at dominating the mountain, so on Wednesday Chris and I decided to give it another go.
Because this week was Spring Break, the parking lot situation was a whole lot worse. Instead of trying to compete for a spot in the lot, Chris and I ended up parking at the end of a very long line of cars in a residential area a mile from the trail head. By the time we got to the base of the mountain, I was already hot and tired, but we pressed on, and Camel Back proved to be a BEAST, but as is the case with almost anything hard in life--it was worth it in the end. The view from the top was fantastic. You could see the great expanse of Phoenix from all directions.
I somehow survived the decent (with a lot of help from my hands), but forgot that our car was parked a mile uphill. Sunburnt and dehydrated, Chris and I made it to our truck which had no working ac at the time, and that's when the Curse of Camel Back set in. As we were driving home, I began to feel terrible.
Chris pulled over in front of a Jiffy Lube that must have been hit especially hard by the economic downturn, because every employee seemed to be hanging outside the garage--and that is where I lost my Cheeri-o's--all over the side of my truck and in front of their business. It was beyond embarrassing and the fact that they were making sound affects didn't help. I turned my head inside of the cab to tell Chris to keep driving so I could have more privacy. This was a bad move I my part since I wasn't done. The rest of the show ended up on my shirt in a trail down the remainder of the block. On the bright side, the Jiffy Lube guys gave me a standing ovation after we flipped the car around to get back on the main road. I should have asked them to wash my truck in exchange for the entertainment.
A view Camel Back from our unfortunate parking spot.
A third of the way up (pre Cheeri-o expulsion).
The view from the top was a 360 degree of Phoenix stretching as far as the eye could see in any direction.
One of the finest golf courses in the world. Drumroll.... Scottsdale.