Every March, my husband and I and his parents take a family vacation. In 2017, we went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and had a full week on the beach. Toes in the sand every day, cabanas with lawn chairs, sounds of the ocean in the background. That trip is always a blast.
This year, we decided to take a different trip. We stayed in Maricopa, Arizona for a week. This was my first time in Arizona. I imagined unbearable heat, cactus everywhere and maybe a scorpion here and there. While a lot of those things were true (I didn’t see any scorpions though) Arizona turned out to be way more beautiful than I could have imagined.
We came in on a sunny, Saturday afternoon and as soon as we stepped out of the car from the drive home from the airport, I was greeted with wonderful crisp, dry air. I’m a born and raised Texan. It’s a rarity for dry air so it was an awesome surprise. We drove from Phoenix to Maricopa which is about a 40 minute drive and saw wild horses on the sides of the interstate, mountains in the background and little dust typhoons in the desert. It was absolutely gorgeous. There were cactus as tall as 20 feet tall (and taller) there were cactus with stunning bright flowers. Temperatures got to the low 80’s during the day and mornings and evenings were high 50’s. Perfect for a light sweater and sipping coffee on the back porch – which I did almost every day *angel chorus*.
I was completely taken by the desert scenery and have found a whole new love for all things succulent.
Hiking in Arizona
One day, Chris and I drove up to Camelback Mountain for a hike. We had been on plenty of hikes in the past but none like this. Most hikes I have ever been on have been in the woods or forest. This mountain was 100% exposed to the sunlight and most of the trail is composed of large rocks that you had to climb up and over in order to proceed on the trail.
Cholla Trailhead.Read More About Here
The name doesn’t sound very intimidating. If I were to think of a trail name with some intimidation I would imagine, “the trail of doom”, maybe that is from watching the Indiana Jones movies lately…
The difficulty is Moderate to extreme, the tip of the summit is 2704 ft, distance to the top is 1.5 miles with an elevation of 1200 feet. We had no idea going in what it would be like. The base of the mountain was a pretty easy so I was thinking, “this can’t be too bad”. The path was slightly elevated and was mostly gravel with some large rocks to climb up but nothing that was too difficult-at first. As we ascended, the trail got harder (makes sense right?)The trail went from gravel and very wide to large rocks with gravel on either side that you had to step up. Some were anywhere from 1 foot tall steps, all the way to steps that were hip height on me- I’m 5’3 to give you a point of reference.
About 20 minutes into our climb, the trail started to change. The path got smaller, as in skinnier and the gravel was all gone. It became large rocks that you had to climb and going almost completely vertical.
I usually am not afraid of heights. This trail gave me a new respect for all things tall. There were some points on that hike that really made me stop and take deep breaths (and tell my husband I didn’t want to continue climbing) but I kept going. The trail at points, got to about 3 feet in width and looking immediately to your right, you see a 45 degree angle down the mountain that is nothing but large cactus and giant boulders. Isn’t it funny how in those moments I suddenly remember all of the cartoons of bugs bunny and such that would have the characters falling down mountain sides. It was hilarious to watch but in real life, that thought became a reality that I could face.
In those moments when I was most scared, looking down to my death (I say sarcastically), I realized how powerful our thoughts can be. So, instead of telling myself, “Don’t fall.” “Don’t look down”. “OH MY GOD I’M SCARED”. I decided to say, “Stay focused”, “You can do this”, “You are dominating”. And guys, it kept me going.
It didn’t take my fear away but it helped me continue when I felt like stopping.
We made it to the top of the mountain in a little under 2 hours.
It was beautiful. It was a perfect panorama of the city. The air was crisp, the breeze was a tad chilly and the sun felt amazing. We packed a picnic lunch and had it on the top of the mountain- which was my favorite part. Getting to look at everything and enjoy the views over some good food and refueling for the way back down. Knowing I had conquered my fear it made the way down so much more rewarding. I’ll be back next time we go.
If you ever get a chance to hike Camelback, go for it!
The rest of the trip was filled with chips & salsa, pool side visits, pickle-ball and sleeping in everyday (which means 8 am for me). It was a perfect mixture of family time, rest, adventure and sun tan!