The iconic image of Phoenix is Camelback Mountain, and one of the bucket-list things for people here to do is climb to its summit. It’s still on my list because I haven’t managed to get all the way up it, but I have gone part of the way three times. The latest time was yesterday and I took my Olympus pocket camera along.
I started out from the Echo Canyon parking lot a little after 6 AM. Even at that hour the lot was fairly full, but I did find a slot. Since there were cars parked down the entrance road, I think that it must have been really busy just after sunrise. It’s a small lot, by the way, so coming on the weekend is likely to be tough going to get a parking space.
The first part of the climb is up a series of steps blocked off with timbers. However, it’s not all that easy because the steps are irregularly spaced.
After a little while you come to a saddle that gives a very nice view out to the east, with Red Mountain, the McDowells and the Salt River reservation. From this point the trail heads south along a big rock wall that is part of the “camel’s” head. The path is so tight and the drop-off is steep enough that fencing is provided for this section. In addition, there’s a pair of very steep climbs where handrails have been installed to help you up them.
While in the midst of hauling myself up the first steep section, I found this Chuckwalla hiding in a crevice in the rock. Why it was out in the middle of the path with all the people going and coming, I don’t know, but it was cool to find anyway.
From here, the trail goes along an easier section for just a bit, which is nice for catching your breath, and then does another section of handrail-steep climbing. After that there’s another easier section and then a section where the trail goes straight up a boulder-filled slot.
I should mention here that the views on both sides of the ridge of Camelback at this point are great. You can see downtown Phoenix and South Mountain on the one side and Paradise Valley and Scottsdale, with the mountains beyond, on the other.
I climbed up the boulders and came out to a little easier place where I could see across another small saddle to the last climb to the summit. I decided at that point that I should choose to come back and complete the climb another day. August in Phoenix is not ideal for someone as big as I am to be doing this stuff.