Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nothing Like A Good Climb To Bring A Guy Down

Wow, those last posts were a little much. Back to our final Arizona adventure.

We spent our last day in Phoenix by climbing a mountain. Camelback Mountain is a rocky crag that pokes up out of the middle of Phoenix and makes all roads leading to it stop, turn, go around and take the long way home. Michele informed me this morning that we were hiking up Camelback. Her knees are still intact, mine ain’t. She was rarin’ to go, I wain’t.

I’m not going to say that I prayed for a halt to her plans but I was wishing mightily for a snafu to slow down the ascent. A few minutes later, the heavens were opened according to my wishes and it started to rain. In Phoenix, no less! The wet moisture was totally unexpected. The concrete crew at the new home across the street were scrambling to cover the driveway they had just poured. I was secretly elated. Maybe the climb would be a non-event.

Michele started wailing “What are we going to do for the whole day?” I volunteered that we could surf the net, read a book, watch tv, take a nap, write a letter, call a friend, run in place…the list was endless. She switched from being sad and disappointed to a full frontal and furious assault on me and my suggestions. Criminy, all I did was answer her question.

I could see I needed to quit being a sincere and thoughtful individual and immediately become a spineless mimicker of my wife’s thoughts. In fact, this would probably be a mantra that all men everywhere would do well to assume.

I apologized for spouting off and stated that I thought we should hike the mount, no matter the weather. Sleet, hail, thunder, lightning, earthquakes, tornados, even a volcanic eruption should not deter us from this darn hike. She smiled and told me she loved me. I braced myself for a day of heavy-duty walking.

We dropped Meg off at her work and drove to Camelback. Parking far below the trailhead, we walked up the winding street behind a herd of Canucks who seemed much older than ourselves. We stayed behind them and enjoyed their eh’s and accents.

By the time we reached the trailhead, we were naturally in front of the large group. Michele whispered that we should let them pass by us as we wanted to read a sign warning about the rattlesnakes and varmints ahead. I didn’t like the idea that we were going to have to squeeze past them as we overtook them once again, but after the rain episode, I kept my mouth shut, eh?

The old folks soon left us in their dust. Less than two minutes had passed and they were out of sight up around the bend. Less than one more minute had passed and I was winded. I started hoping for a volcano or a torrential rain. At least Michele was happy.

Michele was also patient with me. We climbed, often skidding and slipping on the sharp gravel and smooth rocks that formed the trail between a sharp unclimbable incline on one side and a wicked drop-off that would take you into a Phoenix parking lot a half a mile below if you slipped on the other. I huffed and puffed. After being shown up by our elderly neighbors from north of the border, I was determined to stick it out.

Unbelievably, the higher we went, the further away the summit appeared! This phenomenon can give even veteran climbers like myself a slightly negative attitude, especially when the ascent wasn’t my idea in the first place.

Phoenix is huge! We were enjoying a great view of the city even though the climb was a bit out of my comfort zone. We spotted the large group of buildings far below us where Meg was happily and safely working. I was working too but not safely or happily. At least Michele was happy.

Coming around a curve on the trail, I saw 3 people resting on a large boulder. These stragglers were part of the Canadians! We had finally overtaken them! We would probably soon be passing the entire lot of them. I got a little spring to my step and briskly popped into their midst. They were slumped on rocks and looked completely worn out.

“Top of the morning to you! Taking a well-needed rest, eh?” I chortled.

“Aw, we’re just taking a little photo op of the valley on our way back down” one of them responded.

Ok, so they didn’t look completely worn out. Nope,they didn’t look like me.

“How far up did you go?” I meekly asked.
“Aw, shucks, probably another 500 meters up the steeper trail.” Didn't these people know that Americans don't deal in meters? I calculated for a moment with my man ego/brain and determined that 500 meters was equivalent to around 50 feet.

I didn’t buy all the distance they were claiming to have covered but figured I’d let it go.  Me and my knees just wanted to go home. We sat down next to the northerners and caught our breath. They pointed at the continuing trail up the peak and mentioned that we were only at the halfway point.

The trip up had turned into a real downer. My ego was shot. I was out of breath. My knees were killing me. My wife wanted to continue up the hill. The future was bleak.

“Go ahead. I’ll meet you at the car.” I proposed. The Latter-Day Saint that she is, she said would go with me. We descended the trail with me slipping and sliding every few steps. Thank goodness she was there to catch me. As all osteoarthritic folk are aware, it’s a lot harder to go down than up when you have bum knees.

Camelback will never have to worry about her trails being trod by my tennie runners and knocked knees again. I will never have to worry about trodding Camelback again since I have already conquered its...base camp.


ginny said...

Ben, this is pretty funny--I look forward to your posts, they make me laugh. Thanks.

Chelsea said...

I agree, this was a good one. Pictures make it great too.

Rex said...

Ben, I can't believe you were right in my backyard just a few days ago. I was probably reading one of your posts as you were here!! I live abt 20 mins from sky harbor airport!!! I think you were here when the high's were only in the 60's.. brrrrrr. You better contact me next time you come.

Rex D.