A Holiday Hike Up Camelback Mountain Proves A Point

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It gets festive atop Camelback Mountain - hikers decorated a palo verde tree on the summit.

A hike in the city barely qualifies as an adventure; at least that's what my Usual Suspects will assert, and I can kind of understand why. Hiking up Camelback Mountain is a trip, though. Toward the bottom of the trail, you're likely to see a handful of folks embarking on their hike not with with water bottles, but with some other doozies.  Like steaming coffee cups.  So not kidding about that.

And then I've seen others attempting all 2.8 miles of it in flip flops; actually, I have my doubts that such participants get much further than a quarter mile. Plus it's a busy trail, and few people know the basics of trail ethics and etiquette (and on busy trails is where trail etiquette is all the more important), so all of this adds up to a moderately distressing unwilderness experience.

I don't know, it's still an adventure of sorts. Here's what I mean . . .

If you know your trail etiquette, you know that uphill traffic ought to be given the right of way - just to warn you, you can't expect this courtesy on Camelback. Accept it now. And you might also be alarmed to learn hikers overtaking you from behind will neglect to communicate that they're approaching with the time-honored warning we use in the wilderness, "On your left." It's just the way it is on Camelback. Dismantling everything you know about trail ethics and "hiking offensively" becomes your adventure - throw some elbows and talk some smack, it's cool.

All that just to prepare you for my big news. Pumpkin pie and chocolate covered almonds go well in my mouth and have added up over the past weeks, so I had a massive pining for a few hours of sunshine and exercise -- I joined the crowds to hike this mountain right in the center of Phoenix.

I'll spare you the dodgy trip up the trail because I want to tell you what happened on the mountaintop.

At the summit, I looked for a place to seat myself on a rock and people-watch. Instead, I was quickly taken by a young couple who had a baby girl of just a few weeks old. I suspect they thought I was kind of odd when I said, "Hey, what a cutie, did she hike up all by herself?" I know, it wasn't my best ice-breaker but I certainly couldn't go, "Hey!  I publish a website called Adventure Parents, we should, like, be total BFFs!"

I'm a guy, I was hiking alone, and I was getting into baby talk: I looked like the neighborhood weirdo. Or sicko.

I corrected my approach and asked, "Those BabyBjörns are awesome, aren't they?" They smiled and we talked for a few minutes.

They'd been frequent hikers prior to having a baby, so they had no major emotional issue with strapping her in and heading up the mountain.  And I have to say, that's actually an impressive hike to do with a baby. It's a 1300-foot climb in just over 2 miles, with numerous chances for falling face forward.

But guess what? There they were on the summit, just fine. And happy.


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