Saturday night when I climbed into my super comfy bed at the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, I set my alarm for 10:30. An afternoon flight on Sunday, meant I could sleep in, and still have time to explore the resorts grounds or Scottsdale. So, when I woke up at 8:00 AM, for no real reason, I wasn’t a happy camper. Make no mistake, I am NOT, and have never been, a morning person. EVER!
Awake, and slightly hungry I headed to breakfast. If I’d known a few slices of cantaloupe and some strawberries would lead to hiking Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon, I would have ordered room service…..
Going for a hike was not in my plans. Heck, going for a hike wasn’t even in my vocabulary. And then, at breakfast, in front of Jason Sasaki and the Hyundai PR team, Kim Orlando asks, “Hey want to join me for a hike?” My mind said “No thanks”, but my mouth said “Sure, why not”. Was she nuts? Did my Iron Man t-shirt make it look like I wanted a challenge? Marvel’s Iron Man by the way, not Ironman as in the triathalon.
So I made a quick run to my beautiful casita, did a quick change into my Columbia Omni-shade shirt, threw on my Auburn hat, and grabbed my inhaler. Did I mention I have asthma? My asthma does not like heat, elevation, stairs or exercise. You can now also add the Echo Canyon Summit Trail to the dislike column. Then we were off, first we walked a flat mile from the Sanctuary resort to the Echo Canyon Recreation Area. One mile down, and my bottle of water was the first casualty.
Camelback Mountain Hiking Tip: Bring a light backpack to hold a litre of water, sunscreen, camera, and a power bar. There is no shade on the Echo Canyon Summit Trail at 10 AM.
I spent most of the hike falling behind as Kim effortlessly navigated the rocks and elevation. I huffed and puffed, chugged water and stopped frequently. Two bottles of water, gone! Nothing could have prepared me for the first rail. The narrow stairs had me breathless, but the first rail is the steepest and most difficult part of the trail. I seriously think it was made for Spider-Man. Oh and I spent at least 20-30 minutes resting and recovering, the things people say when they reach the top are hilarious!
You definitely need both hands and good shoes to navigate from rock to rock. I learned this the hard way, as my DSLR swung from side to side dangerously close to connecting with large red rocks.
Echo Canyon Summit Trail on Camelback Mountain ascends 1,280 ft, from 1,424 ft above sea level to 2,704 ft and is considered extremely difficult.
Going up is insane but going down is also a bit of a challenge. You need to be prepared physically and mentally as you choose where to place your foot next. Since my travel plans in Arizona did not include: go hiking, I wore jeans and my Asics sneakers. I’d recommend long pants to protect your legs from the sun and the rocks, but not jeans.
Here’s a great look at the trail and recent improvements:
By the way, I confess, I didn’t make it to the top. After conquering the first rail, I was short of breath, my heart was racing, and there were no park rangers in sight. I actually listened to my gut and called it a day. When it was over, and we were back at the bottom of the trail, I was seriously happy Kim invited me to crash her hike. I had no regrets. Well, no regrets, until we returned to the award winning Spa at Sanctuary and I didn’t have time for a massage. What was I thinking?