It should be called bouldering

Peak Summited2020 Camelback Mountain
Type of HikeDay hike
Road ConditionsRoad suitable for all vehicles
Bug StatusNo bugs
Snow ConditionsSnow free
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition

First time ever on Camelback and it was memorable.

Early start just after sunrise, cool morning, trail was minimally traveled, and the first 1/2 mile of terrain started out like most other trails, elevation gain, switchbacks, very doable Phoenix area trail. Then I got to the fenced in stairs. Okay, no biggie, reminded me of S. Kaibab 12-18″+ steps up, not well spaced. Get through that area and then I look up and see the section I'll affectionately call the slip and slide.

Don't let the handrail in the middle fool you. If you have shorter/stubby legs, you will have to crawl on all fours to get up it. Made it to the top after a bit and to a small section that was “hikable”. Up and around and I came to another “rocky area”. One that had a handrail in the middle. More 12-18″ step up rocks, crawling on all 4s to get up. This is about the halfway point of the trail.

Around another corner and I look ahead and see a “rocky area” aka boulder field #1. I don't know why the city of Phoenix describes them as rocks, they are flipping boulders. Rocks are those little or medium sized things you stub your toes on, walk around on the trail, come loose off of other things. These weren't rocks.

Anyways, I hauled myself up anyway I could, occasionally standing, mostly 3-4 points of contact between my hands and feet and the boulders, watching out for and dodging people coming down (no trail etiquette seemed to apply for most on the trail today) and then I got to a nice view spot of the sw/se part of the city, with more boulders.

Up and around another corner I go and what do I see, more boulders, a .4 of a  mile field of boulders. Short legs power push me up the boulder field, while crab walking on 3-4s much of the way. Just when I thought I made it, the trail goes left. False summit with more view of the sw/se valley. And guess what…more boulders.

Finished the last .2 of a mile through this boulder field and I made it to the top.

Enjoyed the views, the breeze was nice, and it felt good to refuel and hydrate. I did start to notice though it was starting to get really busy. Time to head back down.

The trip down can be summed up as a butt scooting boggie with crab walking mixed in for stability, variety, and others' amusement. Take your time going down to prevent injury. The motto from Darwin on the Trail popped into my head “embrace the suck”, which I did and the trip down was tolerable. Needless to say I was glad to be done with this “hike”.

If you've read this far, cool, here are some takeaways.
Bring gloves to protect your fingers and the palms of your hands from bouldering; leave trekking poles at home, they are not needed on this hike and would have been a hindrance, so glad I didn't bring them; have lots of hydration, I went through 1.5L (brought 2L) and it was only 60 degrees at the warmest – most people I saw hiking this had little (16oz) to no water, the City of Phoenix has to help out enough stupid people on our mountains that I recommend not adding to their workload; bring snacks as you will burn through your muscle reserves as it is strenuous using your whole body to get up and down and it's nice to snack at different view points and at the top; plan for crowds after 10am and no parking at Echo Canyon trailhead; feel pretty good about yourself after doing this “hike”. If I ever have the desire to do this peak again, I will try the Cholla trail; glad this hike is done, someone said this one is a good one to prepare for flatiron, so I'll keep that in mind.


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