Thursday, September 30, 2010

Camelback Livens the Spirit

The weird thing is that it really looks like this sometimes.

The shot was "Posted by Julie ... at 2:56 AM" according to the Web site One of the commenters notes that it looks like Mars, which I think is true. Reason No. 1,000,001 why I love Camelback: The way the pink rock of the Headwall turns into a glowing, reddish orange at sunset. No other mountain in Phoenix compares, as far as I can tell. Papago appears to have the same geologic mass of red, and it looks beautiful during some sunsets, too. I just don't recall this same effect -- though perhaps I've not as observant of the rolling lumps of conglomerate that make up Papago.

Next up we have a shot by "Bill," who writes a blog called Endurance Event Training:

The perfect shadow of a pyramid-shaped mountain captured in this picture tickled my fancy. But I also like how Bill, an accomplished athlete who rode 1,700 miles on a bike in 30 days this past summer, praises Camelback for its ability to give him a good workout on a 110-degree day.

Bill made the hike on September 10. Five days before, members of the "Galat Family" tried to slog to the top in weather that was nearly as hot. The family was on a furlough from their work in Africa as missionary doctors. It's so fascinating to see life through the eyes of people like Dr. Galat, thanks to the Internet. Especially interesting to me is to see how physical struggles in the context of a quasi-wilderness setting can be spiritually enlightening to people in a way that sitting on the couch watching the boob tube isn't. Yes, deep thought occurs during workouts in the gym -- there's a certain boredom, or rather, a lack of the constant over-stimulation of modern society, that is inherent in exercise regimens -- but combined with the natural ouevre of a mountain hike, seems to bring out a deep-seated, ancient survival mechanism in people. Especially when it's over 100 and hiking Camelback isn't something you do often. I've seen some of these religiously oriented bloggers take the same tack as Galat, translating their perceived risk of this hike into a confirmation of their particular faith. I mean, here we have a father and health care worker taking something one of his kids said about the strength of their family on the hike and he ends up quoting Corinthians and immersing himself in "truths" like "for when I am weak, then I am strong." Camelback has the power to grab hold of your soul, at least metaphorically speaking, and I think that holds true no matter what your beliefs -- or lack of belief.