After a day off to play golf on a really tough Par 3 course (the greens were killers), I’ve decided to hit another nearby mountain.
Piestewa used to be known as Squaw’s Peak and still is known locally by that name. There’s lots of nearby trails of varying lengths and difficulty in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve but I’m headed up the Summit Trail. It’s almost identical in length and elevation gain to Camelback so I’m armed with just my bottle of water again. I had meant to grab a trail bar but left it in the car. I guess it will be a reward for completing my hike instead of my reward for making it to the summit.
I’ve arrived even earlier than I did for Camelback and I’m glad I did. Not only am I hiking directly into the sun quite a bit on this trail but the parking lot is smaller.
The beginning of the trail looks like someone once covered the rocks in concrete but most of the concrete has disintegrated. Like Camelback, it starts out steep and except for a few spots, just keeps getting steeper. Once I get a quarter mile up the trail, the concrete ends entirely, leaving me on rocks. But, unlike Camelback, these rocks are pretty well ordered so it’s more like hiking stone stairs than the rough boulders of Camelback.
I’m good either way.
There’s occasional trail markers pointing toward a turn but the trail overall is easy to follow, if not easy to master.
At the halfway mark, there’s a trail marker noting that hikers are only at the halfway point and it includes a little trail profile that shows hikers have a good bit of uphill left.
I see several people stopped at this point and pass them. I’m sure people below have seen the peak just above me and think this is the summit, which is why there’s a making it clear that it’s not the summit.
I make one wrong turn, quickly realizing that while people have walked right to see a view, the trail heads left, up, then down and around the backside of the “not the summit” mountain before heading up the backside very steeply to the top of Piestewa.
Just like on Camelback, I’ve sucked up most of my bottle of water and take a nice long break on top. I am very much missing my power bar, particularly as I watch a young couple enjoying their snack.
As is so often the case on summits, I have a cell signal, so I text Walt a selfie, telling him where I am. Then I text my brother Matt a photo, telling him I wish he were with me. I’ve hiked many trails with Matt but not in several years. He’s a great hiking partner, always cheerful and calm.
I head back down the mountain. This feels so much easier than Camelback because I’m not constantly trying to pick a route down; this trail is very clear.
Or so I think.
Suddenly I realize I am on a steep pitch that is not part of the trail. I know I can maneuver down it and I can see how to regain the trail but I’m a little annoyed at myself for getting off the trail. I just wasn’t paying attention. Since I’m not on the trail, I take the precaution of sitting down to gently slide down the steep section; it’s only about 8 feet. And I feel a rip in the back of my shorts.
I put my hand on my behind and realize the tear is about 4 inches long and very low on my shorts. I thank God that I wore one of my good hiking shirts that is really long and promptly try to pull it over the rip. I am not sure how much of the hole I have covered or how long it will stay covered as I keep hiking. I wonder what color panties I’m wearing. Black, I think. My shorts are gray-and-black plaid, so, just maybe with the additional coverage of my gray shirt, I might not embarrass myself too much.
After regaining the trail, I find a convenient spot to stop out of the way of upcoming hikers and text my brother about my blown-out shorts. This is not the first time I’ve done this. One time I ripped out a pair on an overnight with him and got teased the whole way. Later when I changed out of the shorts, I left the ripped pair in the trunk of his car. For years he and I would either mail or leave behind the shorts after a visit. They were never washed and still had a granola bar wrapper in the pocket. One year I wrapped his Christmas present in them. I’m not sure where they are now but I fear they might resurface one day.
So I text him – not 10 minutes after the first text saying how much I wish he were with me – to say that I’ve just ripped out my shorts and now I’m glad he’s not here. He laughs.
I continue downward. Most of the people on the trail are coming up so I’m hoping there’s not too many people noticing my predicament.
Half an hour later, I’m back at my car, eating my snack and wondering how fast I can sneak back through the hotel to my room so I don’t embarrass myself too much.