This was our second year at Ironman Arizona. My sweet little bro started running track and cross-country in high school, which led to triathlons in college, which led to his first Ironman last year.
My best friend made the trip out with us this time and it was perfect, since I planned on climbing Camelback and didn’t want to do it alone…
2 days before the race we head to the expo so he can get all of his gear. We spot a sign making tent and pop in to take advantage. Neither my mother nor me are artists, but Mica is a graffiti prodigy and got straight to work on the letters.
Austin then drops us off at the base of Camelback. He couldn’t accompany us due to preserving his energy for the race. Not a problem. He reminded us to watch our water supplies and to turn around if it gets too low, so we won’t be found like shriveled up raisins on the trail days later.
This was not a careless warning. Years ago, when we had all been out for his college graduation (Mica included), we had got a bit carried away with the celebrations one night. This led to very unpleasant feelings the next day when we had planned to climb this mountain. Hangovers coupled with the hot May sun in Arizona meant that we climbed for 10 minutes before our entire water supply was gone and we had to turn around and go home. It wasn’t my finest moment.
However, we were determined to make things right again.
Camelback is a favorite of the locals. For me, it was a bit intimidating. The only thing we climb in Houston is an overpass, and even that isn’t on foot. Cars do all the work here. Most of Texas is flat, so mountain climbing is not a regular weekend pastime for us.
Plan on doing this if you are in the Phoenix area. It’s challenging and fun and beautiful, and when you get to the top the views are spectacular. There always seemed to be enough people on the mountain to point us in the right direction if we lost the trail. Bring a backpack, a big water bottle for each person (Austin recommends filling it with ½ Gatorade, ½ water), and a camera/camcorder. We had both. And don’t forget cell phones either, in case you tumble down the mountain and need assistance. The trail is not very wide in some areas and the drops can be quite steep.
So happy to have made it to the top!
Climbing produces such an intense euphoric feeling that it was hard to call it a day and make our way back down again. I just wanted to stay in that moment, where the only noises we could hear were the ones carried by the wind. There was movement all around us yet everything felt so still. How is that possible? I’m not sure if everyone feels this way, or if it’s magnified for me due to the fact that I spend the majority of my time at sea level.
Another tip for long-termish stay: try www.vrbo.com on for size. We always use this site when we travel as we find staying in a home with a kitchen suits us much better than a hotel room. This is for many reasons:
- you can wake up and brew some coffee immediately and cook breakfast – all in your pajamas!
- There is usually a washer and dryer where you can take care of last minute mishaps
- You can keep plenty of beer/wine stocked in the fridge for drinks anytime
- There is a common room for everyone to gather in
- Multiple bathrooms depending on number of rooms
- A full kitchen for cooking if you don’t want to eat out for every meal
My mom found a huge 3-bedroom condo 10 minutes from the race for $750 for 4 nights. It was spacious and modern, with a huge kitchen and 2 bathrooms. Imagine comparing that to a hotel stay, where we would need 3 different rooms for 4 nights. Insanity. VRBO all the way.
Now then, time to rest for the big day!