One of the many joys of being a parent has been spending time in a wide variety of activities with my three daughters, either individually or together. Way back in 2004, when my second daughter was 7 years old, we spent much of that summer and fall hiking around trails in the greater Phoenix area. As she got more confident in her hiking ability, we focused on summit trails. She had no problem doing the fairly mild, but stunningly beautiful Pinnacle Peak trail, and got a lot of praise from other hikers when she reached the top of Piestewa Peak, a much harder vertical climb. However, the tallest summit and most iconic in the Valley of the Sun, Camelback Mountain eluded our grasp that summer. We attempted it, but shortly into the hike there is a very steep part where you basically need to haul yourself up using railings; while Monica now boasts an inseam one inch longer than mine, the slope was too steep for her much shorter legs.
Flash forward to my Christmas gift this year - a morning summit attempt followed by breakfast at my favorite AM joint - La Grande Orange Arcadia. Parking is notoriously difficult for the Echo Canyon trail, but we arrived slightly before 7am and had no problems getting a spot. There was just the faintest dawn in the sky, but enough for us to see the trail without needing headlamps (which was good, since we didn't bring them). I had not attempted to hike this trail again after 2004, so I was unprepared for how difficult it actually is. Going up was a cardio burn with many places where I did need to use my hands, both to propel myself up and for balance. While it took us just around an hour to get up, the time flew as we talked about life, the universe and everything. We spent a little bit of time on the summit, got the 'proof picture' and then headed back down. I was amazed that it took us almost as much time on the descent, the steep slopes being even trickier on the way down.
By about 9:20am, I was sipping a cappuccino and marveling at my luck to have three fantastic daughters in my life. More than that, active daughters who still like to hang out with the old man! Thanks, Monica!
Next up will be my adventure/activity gift to the entire family - New Year's Day Indoor Skydiving!