Tag Archives: urban hiking

A Bug is a Bug (Unless it’s a Photo)

We ran a snow-covered trail here in Ohio yesterday. Remembering this hike in Phoenix, Arizona is my attempt to counterweight the winter chill!

Originally posted:  April 9, 2008

Camelback Mountain; Phoenix, Arizona; Arizona Blister Beetle close-up on red rock

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 Camelback Mountain, I instead dropped down to the best camera angle, thinking it quite spectacular.

Camelback Mountain; Phoenix, Arizona; view from trail 2As was the view… Camelback Mountain 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 altogetherCamelback Mountain; Phoenix, Arizona; trailside view 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 Mountain; Phoenix, Arizona; cholla and palo verde

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.

Camelback Mountain; Phoenix, Arizona;lichen and purple lupineThe 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.

Phoenix Couple Travel Tips

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Cincinnati Campus

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The college visit… We’ve done a few now as my oldest son progresses through his senior year of high school. This past week we visited the University of Cincinnati, an urban college with an appealing sense of community. The unusual and varied architecture alone make a walk through campus worthwhile.

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The Bearcats, 6-0 this 2009 football season, play in a sunken stadium tucked into the middle of campus next to an impressive recreation facility. When athletic fields are not in use they are open to all students.

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We had the added benefit of a personal tour with a freshman nephew. Being an honors student gained him a rather palatial penthouse suite rather than the usual cramped dorm room!

Cincinnati Things To Do

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