Healthy Holidays: Hiking Camelback Mountain

When the Midwestern Gentleman and I left home on the Winter Solstice, our backyard looked like this, courtesy of “Snowstorm Draco.”

Our backyard in Iowa.

Our backyard after Snowstorm Draco.

After spending the weekend with the Gent’s family in the equally snow-blanketed Twin Cities, we flew to Arizona, where we rendezvoused with my mom and sister for a welcome change of scenery.

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Phoenix, AZ

Eager to get outside and make the most of the sunny but temperate weather, the Gent and I decided to try hiking Camelback Mountain while my mom and sister were otherwise occupied.  There are a few different trails up there, but the Echo Canyon Trail is the one everyone is referring to when they talk about “hiking Camelback.”  The trail leads a mere 1.25 miles to the top, but boasts an elevation change of 1300 ft in that short distance.  In other words, this hike would be more of a climb than a walk.

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View of the parking lot at the foot of the trail from 1/4 mile in. You can already see the elevation change!

The Gent was itching to run the trail, so he sprinted upward on his mountain goat legs while I trekked ahead at a much slower pace.  My legs felt strong and limber for a change, so I was wryly amused by the nearby teenagers whining about their sore legs half a mile into the hike.

Saguaro cactus on Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ.

Saguaro cactus on Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ.

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Echo Canyon Trail, Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ.

As I picked my way slowly and steadily up the rocky incline and over boulders, I focused on the pranayama breathing we practice in yoga to control my heart rate.  My strength, flexibility, and lung capacity have all notably increased in the few months I have been practicing regularly at Ignite Yoga.  It was almost strange to remember how sick I felt when first diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome last spring, before I started on this path of healing through an anti-inflammatory diet and a dedicated yoga practice.  When the Gent and I were hiking in Santa Fe last May, I struggled for breath and fought my achy joints before admitting to insurmountable fatigue only 20 minutes into an easy hike along a gravel-lined fire road.  I could never have imagined then that, a mere seven months later, I would be hiking/climbing up Camelback Mountain, feeling strong and healthy and eager for adventure.  Committing to a regular yoga practice and learning to live without gluten, without dairy, and without sugar has been so worth it.  It has truly given me my life back.

View from the top of Camelback's Echo Canyon Trail.

View from the top of Camelback’s Echo Canyon Trail.

The Gent met me near the top, so we could hike back down together, soaking up the sunshine and the gorgeous views.  It felt great to be by his side, instead of waiting at the foot of the mountain to hear about his run.

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The Gent takes a breather while I capture the scene on our way back down the Echo Canyon Trail.

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Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ

Wishing you and yours a Happy — and Healthy — New Year!

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This entry was posted in Domestic, hiking, Just Keep Me Movin', Travel, yoga and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Healthy Holidays: Hiking Camelback Mountain

  1. How AWESOME!! Proof in the pudding that some changes and adjustments can make a HUGE difference!! I am so happy you are seeing improvements in your health!!

  2. Emil says:

    Inspiring!! Way to go…love that you are helping others to take control. Love you and am so proud of you!

  3. Yankeepants says:

    Thanks, you two! I couldn’t do it without the wonderful support and encouragement of my family and friends.

  4. Beautiful hike! So glad that you are seeing results from your lifestyle changes. I knew about your anti-inflammatory diet, of course, but not about the yoga– good for you!

  5. Pingback: Running Up Camelback Mountain « Chasing 42

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