Saturday, March 26, 2011

Parking Problems

Camelback's in the news again, but this time not just for disaster, (though a 63-year-old hiker did die there last week.) The Arizona Republic says today that the parking situation is getting much worse.

Last July it became apparent that the mountain was getting more crowded in the summer. Things have changed since the shot I took of the parking lot in August three years ago -- now it's rare to see it this empty unless it's over 110.

I chatted with some rangers a couple of weeks ago who were directing traffic around the parking lot and back out -- no one is allowed to wait for a parking spot, they say. That began a month or two ago, although I waited in a typical line about three weeks ago; the rangers said that's cause they're not there all of the time. This time, they had signs out and didn't let anyone stop while all the spots were full. I asked if they had a limit on how many times you could go back in to check, and they said there wasn't any, but they made it more difficult by putting vehicles back onto McDonald before you could go back up Echo Canyon Drive.

I had biked up, an option the rangers appreciated. Parked the truck near the shopping center at 44th and Camelback Road.

The Arizona Republic article suggests that people could hike elsewhere. One commenter on the article states that people could simply walk around their neighborhoods, to which a smart-ass replied that he's too frightened to walk around his neighborhood because he doesn't own a gun.

Fact is, Camelback is unique. There is nothing like it. Piestewa comes close, and the parking lot is huge. But the trail is narrow and it doesn't have anywhere near the beauty of Camelback. It's like Wickenberg compared to Sedona. The trail on Camelback, often made up nothing but boulders, is way better than Piestewa. Beyond Piestewa and Camelback, no other standard mountain trail in the Phoenix area is as steep and long. Siphon Draw comes close, so does the hike to Tom's Thumb in the McD's, and Brown's Trail on Four Peaks. But who's got time for that?

Anyways, I hiked Camelback today. Tons of people. An absolute zoo.

I took three months off of running and hiking, from December to February, but have begun to get back on the mountain. Plantar fasiciitis. I think it's getting better.

I've been enjoying the spring on Camelback and have seen a few chuckwallas, including a baby. The chucks are clearly thriving despite the hordes of hikers. I shot this picture of a good-sized chuckwalla last week.

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