Sunday 24th September – Camelback Mountain

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Nothing like the sleep in of yesterday, but we didn’t exactly spring into action either… We enjoyed our breakfast like we usually do, cooking up some eggs and bacon with a smoothie to wash it all down. We heard from Peter that Debbie had taken herself to the doctor to get her sickness sorted. When she came home, she offered to drive us to Camelback Mountain because she was convinced we wouldn’t be able to find parking. We were having none of that, even though she was now on drugs to get herself better, we were happy to wing it.

Dan drove us a few miles to the Echo Canyon trailhead of the most popular hike in Phoenix. He’d last climbed this peak when he was in his teens so it was essentially an adventure for both of us. After going the wrong way at a roundabout, we found the 75-space strong carpark and easily slotted ourselves in. It was beyond 10am, so the morning hikers were coming down off the mountain and vacating space for us. We’d left Cleo at home so didn’t have to worry about sneaking her past the “No Dogs Allowed” signs and dipping out on rangers. Armed with a bunch of water, we walked out of the carpark and towards the desert mountain shaped like a camel sitting down for rest. We would reach the peak of the mountain by first climbing around the camel’s head, then ascending his body.

The incline was obvious straight away. We were going to climb more than 1,000 feet in just over a mile and being in a place that often gets above 100*F, there were plenty of warning signs telling hikers to take plenty of water. As we walked up towards the red rock, I was spellbound by the rock walls, convinced there must be some climbing routes in the area because it just looked too good to sit there unused.

After a few dozen switchbacks, we came upon the first interesting section of the hike. The incline went up dramatically with a railing to help people get up the slab that was the trail. I mandated that no railing touching was allowed and we both navigated the rock fairly easily. The rest of the trail was pretty much rock hopping with signs leading the way to the peak.

There were lookouts on the way as we got higher and higher above the huge city. I can only imagine how desolate a place this must have been before any development happened here. Now, Phoenix is a mix of luxury houses, resorts, golf clubs and cactus, with a Native American Reservation on its outskirts. Much too big of a city for me.

We got smatterings of shade as we clambered up the last chute of rock, stopping often for water and to get our breath back. There was as super-enthusiastic guy on the trail wearing fluoro and offering people water and electrolytes. We saw him again on the way down and gathered that he was a retiree doing it out of the kindness of his own heart – a daily activity for him. Many people took him up on his offer for water and I’m sure it gave him fulfilment.

We’d taken our shirts off by the time we reached the top and we got there to find many other people enjoying the view. It was a great little burn considering its location near the middle of the city and I can imagine the hike is a regular for plenty of people. We sat ourselves down on the hot rock and Dan pointed out the highlights of his home city. Before seeing the airport to the south, I’d almost forgotten I would be leaving in only a few days.

We didn’t stay long at the top, not wanting to get fried in the sun so we soon head down. We stopped to look at a cave slightly off the trail when we rounded a corner to find a lady with her pants down trying to pee. She hadn’t selected her bathroom spot very tactically and she was struggling to make a quick job of it so we gave her a wide birth.

After going home for lunch and saying hi to Cleo, we went out again to get supplies for tomorrow’s event and also to get what we needed to have another go at patching Dan’s forever leaking fuel tank. To thank Dan’s family, I wanted to make them an Aussie dinner before I went home and so we hit the shops. At our ever-faithful Walmart, we got most of the things I needed and everything Dan needed for the tank. We stopped in at an Albertsons to get the rest of my supplies, then a grog shop for some Aussie beer and we were set.

When we got home, we unloaded the supplies then went outside to get the Cabana fixed while we still had some light left in the day. Dan parked the Cabana on a hill with a rock underneath the back wheel to get some extra gradient and the leak became dry since the tank was empty. Using a variety of tools, he cleared away all his previous patch work then gave the area a good clean with methylated spirits. Following that, he gave it a good sand, then donned gloves and did a fresh patch on the crack. He worked meticulously and patiently, working the putty onto the tnak until he was satisfied it was at the right consistency. All the while, I sipped a beer and “supervised”. As the sun set behind us, we both considered he’d done a good job and went back inside.

Peter had dinner waiting for us and it was plenty warm enough for us to sit outside and enjoy it. I actually put another layer on because it was cool out! This prompted Dan to suggest a hot tub session so he set it to heat up. The hot tub was a prominent feature of the backyard but I’d never really thought much of it because of the heat. Now though, what a perfect treat!

After preparing a sponge cake for one of my recipes tomorrow, the hot tub was ready and we went outside to enjoy. We still had a bit more F1 to watch and by carefully propping my laptop up on the corner of the hot tub we were able to soak and watch racing cars with the lights of Phoenix twinkling in the valley below. Not bad!

We got the sponge cake out of the oven and left it to cool overnight, then retired for the night, watching a bit of TV before I conked out.

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