If I’d spotted it creeping across my carpet, I’d have crushed it into a paper towel with a shiver and no shame. But as this bug was moseying across red sandstone on I instead dropped down to the best camera angle, thinking it quite spectacular. ,
As was the view… rises some sixteen hundred feet above downtown Phoenix. The incongruity of this heap of a mountain is striking as one gazes down into the flat basin of desert city below. Similar lumps of reddish rock loom in the distance, bold backdrops to Sky Harbor International’s constant air traffic. During my recent visit, a friend and I clambered up a trail labeled “strenuous” hoping for a good late afternoon work-out.
We got our work-out and then some! As a cardio-nut, I didn’t find it strenuous so much as “scary.” And altogether lovely… Sheer drop offs, sliding gravel, and the occasional wind gust made an inward lean preferable. Ascending the uneven terrain was akin to stepping up the equivalent of three or four stair steps at once. The climb required focus and a constant momentum, more than a little bit of nerve, and a lot of photos.
Camelback’s granite base soon gave way to sedimentary rock cemented with a pleasing rust colored sandstone that provided wonderful contrast to the sparse foliage along the way. Purple lupine sprouted steadfastly in unlikely places. The occasional palo verde tree clung tenaciously at cliff edge. Cacti such as yellow brittlebush, jumping (or “teddy bear”) cholla, hedgehog and barrel provided occasional splashes of color and texture.
The ascent was the easiest part. After a water break and panoramic elation, the rapidly approaching sunset chased us back down the mountain. We descended quickly, knowing how fast the flash from afternoon to darkness can be when shielded by a mountain. Climbing down felt a lot like downhill biking with the brakes on and made for good “jello” legs when we finally walked contentedly out from under Camelback’s shadow.