Thursday, August 18, 2011


Hiking at Camelback is an adventure every time. One doesn’t hike Camelback as much as climb it. The rock-steps on Echo Canyon trail are of varying height and shape, and sometimes loose. The trail includes slick-rock and gravel and high-steps and steep drop-offs and shortcuts and tree-grabs and semi-vertical faces and boulder fields and railroad ties that are fun to bound down and handrails (I have personal rules about when they can be used). Cholla’s not bad, either, with its scrambly top. Both trails have some of what I would consider Class Three terrain.

I notice sometimes that the technique I'm using when I go down Camelback is the same monkey-careful gait that I employ on more-serious mountain hikes. It’s hard to describe, and it doesn’t look all that different from mere hiking down a steep slope, but it is different. It’s more like climbing down with my feet. I’m more centered in my gravity, more balanced in the arms, more ready in case I slip than when hiking down an easier trail.

I'm not one to usually say "I'm going to climb Camelback today" when I mean I'm going to hike to the top. For me, climbing at Camelback means rock-climbing. But to hike Camelback is, in many pleasurable ways, to climb it.

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