Ascent Trip Report
Unfortunately, I have no pictures of this hike as all my gear was packed in watertight barrels and it would have been a nightmare to get the camera out. The GPS track is also borrowed from someone else, with slight edits on my end.
Back from our three weeks trip floating down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park, a few of our group spent the nights of the 29th and 30th in Flagstaff. We rented cars as we flew out of Phoenix and left on HWY 17 around 06:00 on the 1st of December. François wanted to drive through Sedona but it turned out we got in the canyons before daybreak, missing most of the view. We eventually made it in Phoenix around 09:45 and after returning the vehicles at the airport, I bid farewell to the others who were flying in the early afternoon. I had to wait a while more as my flight was scheduled for 01:45 on December 2nd.
My plan was to rent another car for the day and find some peaks to climb. I had spotted some pretty mountains on the landing approach a month earlier and knew they were not too far away. Getting the car wasn't too difficult and after hauling my gear barrels in the trunk, I took off. I tried finding a WIFI hotpot while I ate a quick lunch and after getting lost in the streets of Phoenix, I finally was able to connect to the peakbagger.com database. I then found out how to get to my first goal, Camelback Mountain. I made it surprisingly quickly to the trailhead parking which was chock full. The peak looked gorgeous, but the crowds kind of turned me off.
I started hiking past the information and toilet booth, spotting a pair of park rangers. I was in a cotton tee and jeans and the heat made me think I'd be a stinking, sticky mess later that night. I had no pack, no water, and pants that barely held on which I had to tug up every ten steps or so. I looked out of place among the synthetic-clad hikers but I passed everyone. The trail was more like a sidewalk for the first few hundred meters before it skirted around a cliff, climbing up a built up staircase. I jogged my way ahead but passing people was difficult as there was a constant stream of downhill hikers.
I reached a steeper and slabby area with metal railings but by ignoring those and charging in the steeper side, I was able to get ahead of tons less confident people. At least I had my hiking boots and the grip was perfect. Past this steeper area, the trail went through a boulder field up to a ridge. Again, I had to slow down, stuck behind the crowd, but when I reached the crest, I was able to jog all the way to the summit in no time. I spent about 30 seconds there, taking the amazing view in and catching my breath, before starting downhill again. Now I wanted to really go all out and ran as much as I could. I rock-hopped down and passed people who were certainly not expecting that kind of speed. I got winded through a couple uphill spots just before the staircase and had to walk for some distance but after that it was a straight downhill run all the way to the trailhead. My damn pants were really annoying now that they were slightly damp from perspiration but that's the price to pay for tightly packed luggage I didn't want to mess with.
I cooled down and went to the restroom before asking the rangers some info on another peak I could see in the distance to the northwest. I was happy to learn it was also a city park that was easily accessible. After asking for a quick topo, I knew I could climb it that day as it was only around 12:30. I made my way back to the car and took the road towards my second goal, Piestewa Peak.