WOW. It’s done. I did it. Phoenix Summit Challenge 2013: You are conquered!! Honestly, I feel like yesterday happened days ago because it took so much out of me. What an adrenalin rush! Let’s start with some numbers, shall we? Start time: 5:20 a.m. Total time: 11 hours, 18 minutes (with drive time) Total summits ascended: 6 Total feet ascended: 5203 Total miles hiked: 21.82 (plus unrecorded distance from parking to trailhead and back) Amount of water consumed: 3.89 liters Notable mention: 1 fall, 2 scraped knees and 1 bruised hip. SO, I bet you’re thinking: Give me the story already!! I have to start by saying that Phoenix had a storm blow in that brought with it a drop in temperatures and buckets of rain through Friday night, with a 50% chance of rain yesterday and highs in the 50’s. Just to give you an idea of the anxiety that caused for me, we’ve been enjoying temps in the 70’s and 80’s here the last month or so, and that storm makes this November the seventh wettest on record. We got about 2.4 inches of rain in three days. Sorry for getting all meteorologist on you, but it was freaking windy, wet and cold and there’s no other way to express how much I dreaded hiking for 11 hours in those conditions! I brought lots of clothes and socks and an extra pair of hiking boots to change into, and luckily it all worked out better than I anticipated. So yeah, the panic attack was unnecessary I guess. HA! I was up like a meth addict at 3:30 a.m., all energy and nerves. No alarm needed for me! Joe drove me around for most of the day, so that helped eliminate some steps to and from the parking lot. We got to the first mountain, and after registering I was on my way. Alone. In the dark. Wearing a headlamp that made my view resemble a Blair Witch Project re-make. Add to it the head-to-toe plastic I was wearing and the rocky terrain, and it looked like I was filming Blair Witch Project Mars Edition. Seriously, the hood I was wearing muffled all the outside sounds so the only noise I could hear was the “whoosh whoosh” of my plastic encased limbs rubbing against my plastic covered body. A little freaky at first, but I got used to it eventually.
my view hiking up the first mountain
I felt like I was suffocating under all that plastic, and regretted not just getting a light-weight poncho instead. Especially when Joe kindly pointed out that I was the only hiker wearing a trash bag. I wasn’t, but thanks for that honey. The view at the top was MUCH better (even if the weather was not-it was three times as windy, cold and wet up there!)
#1: South Mountain Dobbins Lookout
One down, and I was feeling a pretty good hiker’s buzz. It was a lot of fun jetting down that mountain in the dark! The next summit, also at South Mountain, is not my favorite. I’ve only hiked it once, and it was pretty miserable at that time because of the heat and lack of shade. And honestly, it’s just not my version of pretty. But the cloudy skies made it more bearable and enjoyable.
#2: South Mountain Los Lamitas/Ranger/National trails
In fact, it was so enjoyable that I was smiling at everyone I passed on the way down, all cheesy-like, and feeling this crazy, hiking-rocks-life-is-so-great-how-blessed-am-I? euphoria that I can’t quite describe. What I can describe, however, is the teeth rattling feeling of tripping over a rock on the way down and falling to my knees before the momentum flipped me over to my left side, leaving me fetal in the middle of the trail. I literally saw stars. Or tiny flashes of light that I’ll describe as stars. I was so shaken up that I just lay there for a few minutes before rolling into a half-crouched position, where I stayed for some time, sucking in air and trying to figure out what the hell just happened. Thanks to the sweet hiker who saw me bent over gasping and muttering under my breath and stopped to ask me, over and over, if I was OK. And then brought the comic relief by asking “What happened?” and laughing when my response was simply “I f*%@ing fell.” Yep. You sure did, girl. After making sure I was going to make it back, he fist bumped me and quickly went on his way. Which was a relief, because I was choking back some adrenalin-laced crocodile tears. My mantra for the rest of that trek was “I’m tough, I’m strong, I’m OK.” All whilst trying to gain control of my breathing and prevent a complete meltdown.
Thankfully, the rest of the challenge was not that eventful. It was pretty monotonous, actually. Drive to the trailhead, check-in, hike to the top, collect your stamp, hike down, check-out and drive to the next. There were obviously a couple potty breaks in there, a trip home to switch cars and drop Joe off and some aggravation towards the end with all the joggers and screamers on the trail. A quick note on this: If you are a jogger or someone who “WOO-HOO’s!!” to everyone they pass, I’m really sorry to say this, but you are SO incredibly annoying to those of us struggling just to not pass out. In all fairness, I know I was terribly cranky at that point. Seriously, though, the thought occurred to me that it would be such a release to clothesline those amaze-balls people capable of running up a damn mountain, or stab those with the energy to shout 7 mountains in. You guys are awesome, really. Just stop rubbing it in already, OK? 😉 And yes. I’m totally freaking jealous!
#3: Piestewa Peak a.k.a. Squaw Peak a.k.a. WORST. MOUNTAIN.EVER. And also incredibly slippery in the rain.
#4: Phoenix Mountain Preserve Dixie Peak – such a pretty mountain!
#5: Lookout Mountain – this is the “break” since it has the least elevation gain at 586 feet
#6: North Mountain – the paved trail was a welcome relief at this point in the challenge. But the elevation gain did me in: 719 feet in 2.3 miles = DONE!
While I wasn’t able to make it through all seven of the summits in the Phoenix Summit Challenge, I felt pretty dang good that I hoofed it through six. By that, I mean I felt mentally fulfilled. Because my body felt like it got drug behind a train for 11 miles.
Here are a few other details for those of you keeping track: Food consumed: Quaker instant oatmeal cup, 2 bananas, Clif bar, 1 hard boiled egg & 2 egg whites, almond butter and jelly sandwich, Bear Naked Morning Power Pack, 2 Cups Coffee, 1/2 an Indian fry bread bean burrito, 1 slice chocolate cake, 2 macaroons, 2 strawberries (probably not enough, but I choked down as much as I could) Changes of clothes: 2 1/2- I changed out of a sweater into a lighter long sleeve shirt and t-shirt on the third hike in, pants halfway through, and back into the sweater and a new t-shirt before the last hike. As I mentioned, I also wore a rain suit over my clothes for the first hike due to the weather, but it was not a good idea. (Who knew plastic was such a good insulator? I was sopping wet UNDER the suit by the time I was done!) I’m going to go hibernate on my couch for the rest of the day. My achy knees make me feel 82 years old. Here are a few more pictures for you before I go.