Ahhh hell, there’s no clever (and clean) way to put that this mountain attempted – several times – to take me prisoner, but failed. Miserably!
When I tell people I’m a native of Phoenix, it never fails that their next question is “Have you hiked Camelback?” or make some comment like “Oh, I bet you hike Camelback all the time!”, and when I respond with “Actually, no I haven’t” I get the most incredulous looks, like it’s some sort of pilgrimage that I’m willfully ignoring to make.
Now, this doesn’t happen often…but you were right, everyone. Ok? You were right, I was wrong, yadda yadda…I’ve been missing out.
The whole thing started with the opportunity to hike the Grand Canyon this summer, actually Havasupi Falls. It’s a 10 mile hike down into the canyon, with the first mile being steep switchbacks, carrying a 4-day pack, with temperatures still reaching 80-90 degrees fahrenheit, in direct sun. Then hiking out two days later, after the 8 mile hike (one way) out to the Colorado River and back, of course. That’s a total of 36 miles, folks, over the course of four days! (Not my choice of date, btw. And look at this little Urbanite, speaking Granola! I fully embrace the Crunch :))
No matter the date, it’s an intense hike. One that needs to be prepared for, that’s for sure. So I started researching hiking spots in Arizona and, duh! Camelback was the first one to pop up. So a friend (and new training buddy) and I met up bright and early Saturday morning to break in my new hiking shoes. Again, we all know I’m all about the urban scene and moving away from the sprawl of Suburbia, but I can see why people gravitate to mountain preserve property. It was beautiful! A sentiment we both shared.
A fellow Urbanite, Cortney and I talked about the Cen-Pho scene during our trek up Cholla Trail. When she mentioned how beautiful the scenery was and how nice it was to be out in the quiet of nature, it really got me thinking. With all the hustle and bustle of the city, it really is necessary to find the balance somewhere. Look at all of the major big cities in the world: New York, Paris, London, Barcelona, San Paolo…
They all have vast city gardens. Those retreats from the concrete jungles surrounding them. Here in Phoenix, we don’t have that in our downtown. It’s something that I’ve wondered how to attain. Because of our weather, it is not sustainable or environmentally conscious to create vast lawns (golf courses) or plant big shade trees that are not native to our area (aka require ridiculous amounts of water…that we don’t have). I’ve had a very distinct vision of what an urban garden “should” look like. I never stopped to think what ours already does looks like.
As we hiked down Echo Canyon, the rocks cool from shade and the cold desert night under my hands, I looked around at the masses coming out to Camelback that morning to get their nature on. To indulge in their own personal retreats from city living, and to enjoy the desert playground. I still think it would be nice to figure out a way to get this downtown, but I can be patient and work with baby steps.