Piestewa Peak

Trip Start Jan 08, 2008
Trip End Apr 09, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Sunday, February 17, 2008

The old man can still do it - but at a slower pace than the youn'un!

It seems to me that when the opportunity presents itself  to have a bonding experience with one's son, and go on a mountain climbing expedition with him, it is best to do it for one never knows when it might happen again.  This is how the climb began, water bottle, hicking boots and camera at hand.  The weather was a perfect 68 degrees, no wind, warm sun and as much smog hanging over the city as I have ever observed.

This was a 1.5 mile jog to the top of Piestewa Peak (formerly Squaw Peak - a name is no longer politicaly correct). The peak is at 2,608 ft. elevation and part of a system of hiking trails in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. Greater Phoenix has many such park areas that are well developed with parking and signage and very heavily used.  I would conservatively estimate that well over 2,000 people would hike on this trail in one day. Some would make it to the peak others would not.

First I must relay how Scott sees this little hill that he has hiked on many times.  His estimation of our time to climb would be 45 minutes up and then 20-25 minutes down allowing for the extra time that the old man would likely take. Scott regularly hikes to the top in 30 minutes and back down in 15 minutes and has been know to do this twice in a row if the mood hits him and the path isn't too crowded.

The climb started well enough, Scott slowed his pace and I was happy to be able to maintain the pace with minimal water and rest breaks.  However, about a quarter the way up I knew I couldn't maintain the pace and had to take a couple of longer extented rests mostly to take photos of course.  After my third long rest I noticed that Scott hadn't even broken a sweat and was mostly hopping from foot to foot.  I convinced him to set his own pace and go on and I would either wait for him on his return or I might go a little further if I felt up to it.

I rested for several minutes, had friendly chats with others both coming and going, comiserated with others in similar circumstances and generally started to feel very good again.  Especially when I observed a younger mother on her was up the trail carrying her 4-5 month old baby as she climbed.  Needless to say I went on with renewed enthusiasum and with only a couple more stops - this time really to take photos.  I found myself more than 3/4 of the way to the top when I met a very surprised Scott on his way back down.   Well now I could see the peak very clearly  and it would seem a shame to have come this far and not made it to the top. So I continued on and Scott turned around and followed me back to the top.

I know now what it must feel like to climb a tall mountain.  I of course had a photo taken with the two successful montain climbers just to prove that it was real, then of course I looked around to observe that there were hundreds sitting on the rocks enjoying their lunch or just admiring the panoramic view of the smog in every direction.

The hike back down was uneventful but much more challenging than I had counted on.  One uses very different muscles when going down and the rough rocky terain makes for more difficult footing.  I mentioned earlier Scott's assesment of the time to climb Piestewa Peak.  Well here is my reality.  I made it up in 1.5 hours and back down in 45 minutes and of course that was allowing lots of time for taking photos.

Now Scott, did I tell you that I always wanted to do the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon?  Do you think I might be ready for that hike soon?
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