A Climb to the Top, both Literally and in Life

Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ (view from the top)

Sometimes in life you doubt yourself. Sometime in life you listen to that voice inside you that says you can’t do it. And sometimes in life you surpass your own expectations digging deep to muster enough courage, strength and anything else that you’ve got to relax and enjoy the panoramic view.

Recently I went with a group of friends to hike Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona. Now, I was told that we would be hiking. Not climbing, lifting, scraping my knees, or gasping to catch my breath after literally pulling myself up a 65 degree angle. I was excited and amped up to bond with my friends, especially my husband who isn’t as outdoorsy as I am. However, my perception of what the morning would be and what it was in actuality was entirely skewed.

In the car from 5 miles away I could see the symbol that is Camelback Mountain. Picture a enormous sleeping camel that watches the magnificence  that is the downtown Phoenix horizon. We arrive and there were herds of people making their way to the base of the mountain. We hit the bottom of the stairs and start making our way up. We chose the Echo Canyon trail, which apparently is the most popular (and most difficult) climb. My husband and I lost the group within 10 of the climb. I would consider myself physically fit but this was gut wrenching. Soon we caught up to the group and told them to go on without us. We told our friends that we would meet them at the bottom because we didn’t think we would get very far before we turned around and made our way back down the mountain. As they left we sat there staring at each other, drenched in sweat ready to go back. Then it hit me, I was letting this camel get the best of me. I normally don’t give up, so why was I ready to do so now? What was upsetting me more was the fact that I was letting my husband down. Marriage was about supporting each other and getting through the difficult patches in life. I know this was only a mountain but if we were going to turn around this easily what would stop us from doing so in our marriage as well? So I came up with a plan. I would proposition my husband to go a little further each time we came up to a stretch of ‘climbing’. At first he fought me on it but the further we went the more we were encouraging each other to push a little more. It was going great until we hit a plateau.  We were so ready for the experience to be over when I heard a familiar voice. Around the corner were our friends making their way down the mountain and they looked as surprised as we were, like they had just seen ghosts. They were so sure we had turned around and given up. As they continued making their way down they assured us that the end was near, all we needed was one more climb.

It was grueling and physically exhausting. We had never pushed our bodies in such a way but we had done it together. As we made our way to the top I felt invigorated and proud. But not proud in myself but proud in the bond and strength that my husband brought to the table. If this was any indication of what our relationship would be like in the next 50 years then we were ready. As I gazed down at the thriving metropolis of the East and West Valleys, over four million people I had an epiphany: life is a climb to the top. We are constantly trying to overcome obstacle whether it is love, career choices, or family. No one has the ‘perfect’ life but everyone has their obstacles. We stood atop the mountain and looked down onto the Valley of the Sun and just admired the majestic beauty. I realized that like life many climbers do it over and over again to experience the different landscapes and if we could do this once, we would be able to do it again.


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