If you live in Phoenix, or know anyone who does, you’ve probably heard of the Christmas tree atop Camelback Mountain. It seems to be what everyone’s talking about nowadays, besides the weather. You’ve probably also heard about the guy who dresses as Santa and poses for photos with hikers on weekends leading up to Christmas. While I didn’t get a photo with the big guy, I saw the Christmas tree for myself for the first time in a few years this week. As soon as I saw it, I kicked myself for not bringing an ornament to hang on it. (If you’re reading this and plan a hike soon, please hang one in my honor.) I did, however, pick up an ornament that had fallen and hung it back on the tree, which counts for something, right?
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My friend Ashley and I planned a hiking date to reunite after months of not seeing each other. Ashley is a New Yorker and I am a wannabe Chicagoan (?) now, so we have missed the mountains. I researched Camelback parking online and asked Instagram friends about the parking situation, and what I read made me nervous. Everything I read said that you’d have to wait for parking to open up and that the mountain gets busy on holidays, and in the winter overall. I decided we should be dropped off so that we wouldn’t have to worry about finding parking. We awoke at 6 a.m., sipped on coffee courtesy of Ashley and made it to the mountain. What did we find? A nearly empty parking lot. We didn’t complain, though, because that means fewer people on the mountain.
I was out of breath almost immediately as we began the Echo Canyon hike. Those inclines are even more intense than my Orangetheory workouts! I had been proud of myself for being in better shape after three months of sessions, but now I see I still have work to do. The views are completely worth the effort though. See for yourself.
Have you hiked Camelback recently? Do you stick to the Cholla trail or the tough Echo Canyon side?