Thursday, July 31, 2008

Slouching toward the summit at 111 degrees

Started at 6:40 or so and was surprised to see so many people in Echo Canyon considering how warm it was. Perhaps the breeze had brought them - it was fairly nice, at first. Extreme heat brings out the hard-folk, and today was no exception, though there were a lot of them. Parking lot was nearly full. The heat was intense. I burned through the trail with my Ipod on shuffle. Suppose I looked weird with my bandanna tied around my head -- nobody seems to do that. But I like it because it keeps the sweat out of my eyes. Few people wear hiking boots as sturdy as mine, either. I had my Danner Mountain Lites on, my typical Camelback shoe. Slowed down a whole lot about 3/4 of the way up, going into my plodding, low-energy climb mode. Had to stop and take a water break; I only do that on the hottest days, and this was one of them. Took a few pictures with the A630. Gorgeous red sunset.

On the way down this dude tells me to watch out for a rattlesnake he saw "just around the bend." I asked him to clarify that and he sounded like he didn't know what he was talking about. Told him I thought I'd like to see a snake tonight. "Well, watch out," he said with rising drama in his voice. "They KILL!" I couldn't help but laugh and I wanted to say something and what came out was, "They only kill you if you mess with them." Not sure if he was just screwing around or what, but I didn't hear or see anything. I was kind of disappointed, since I had my camera on me. I've seen a handful of snakes at Camelback, and I know to watch out for them. Pretty much as long as you don't surprise them you'll be okay. It's a good idea to avoid stepping right in front of small, overhanging rocks where snakes could be hiding, not that I always follow that rule. Most of the snakes I've seen anywhere in the Sonoran desert give you a good warning rattle when you get within 10 feet or so, just like they're supposed to. But they don't always follow that rule. It's just prudent to always keep your eyes wide open, especially when hiking in the dusk, like I was tonight on the way down. Saw no wildlife at all except for these big horseflies buzzing around like angry bees. Though it was truly hot, though not scorching because the sun was at such a low angle, I started feeling like I always do when I hike Camelback: Awesome. I haven't climbed it in a couple of months and despite some joint issues, in particular a troublesome wobbly right knee (the site of my nasty ACL replacement surgery in '93), things went well. Felt a little guilty about the time factor - everything I do these days seems to mean a sacrifice of something else I should be doing. But it was worth it, as usual.