From Tracie: Climbing Camelback Mountain (Take One)

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Climbing Camelback Mountain (Take One)

I wanted to climb Camelback Mountain for my birthday this year, and Katarina agreed to do it with me. I was a little worried about the extra hard rating, and some of the scary reviews I read online, because I've never really hiked before (and Camelback is the tallest mountain around here), but I got advice from hiking friends and decided I could do it.

Tracie and Katarina on Camelback Mountain

While I would love to post this picture here, and let you believe that I climbed a mountain this weekend, I have to admit something: we didn't make it all the way to the top.

I'm still counting this experience as a total win, though.

We learned a lot of important things that are going to help us make it to the top next time – because there WILL be a next time. I'm going to keep going back until I conquer Camelback Mountain all the way.

cactus on camelback mountain cholla trail

Why I Didn't Make It To The Top of Camelback Mountain (And What I Learned About Hiking)

1. You can't climb a mountain when you have chest congestion (or, at least, I can't). 

I've been coughing for the last week, but didn't feel feverish or weak. I didn't realize how congested my lungs were, or how much it would impact hiking, until I was about 30 minutes in and could hardly catch my breath. The higher we hiked, the worse it got, and the longer I had to sit each time to get my breath back.

2. Proper footwear matters. 

I should say that I knew my shoes weren't the best going into this adventure. My boss even asked me if I had proper footwear and told me to get hiking shoes last week. But I didn't make it to the store, and decided my seven year old running shoes would work okay. They were okay, but they were not the best choice. I'm definitely getting the right shoes before I do this again.

Tracie taking a break on Camelback Mountain Cholla Trail in Phoenix

3. Going down is faster. 

The final reason we decided to stop where we did was time. With all of the stops I had to take to rest during our ascent, we were moving slowly. I wasn't sure how long it would take to go back down, and wanted to make sure we didn't get stuck partway if my breathing troubles worsened. When we got to the halfway point, we decided to turn around and come back another day.

4. Two people = two bags for water. 

I wanted to take lots of water, because, Arizona. But I packed all of it into the one hiking backpack we own. It wasn't too heavy to carry comfortably, but it was heavy enough to impact my balance. Next time Katarina and I will take separate bags and split up the water. (Shout out to Nature Valley for the hiking backpack they sent me probably 10 years ago as part of an influencer campaign that I finally took on a real hike!)

hiking backpack

5. Hike early. 

We got to the mountain at 7:30am and that was nearly perfect. I think we will try to get there a bit earlier next time, but I definitely wouldn't want to go later. When we were on our way down, it was getting super crowded. Which leads me to this...

6. I'm glad I wore jeans.

Near the end of the hike, a group of guys jostled me as they pushed past me on their way up the mountain; I went down hard on one knee. My knee is pretty torn up, but it would have been worse in leggings or shorts.

Camelback Mountain Cholla Trail

Stay tuned...I'm going to try this again soon, and will have more tips for you on how to successfully climb Camelback Mountain.

If you want to see more pictures of our Camelback Mountain adventure, check out the highlights on my Instagram Stories.

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