I previously wrote about Choppy and I attempting to avoid climbing a mountain, and yet ending up on a rather mountain-like climb. You would think that, having realized that Choppy and I should either (a) get in better shape before hiking in mountainous terrain again, or (b) stick to nice, flat, Indiana hikes, I would avoid any hiking that is even slightly mountainous in nature.
You would think that, wouldn’t you? And you’d be dead wrong, as yesterday, I decided the best place for Choppy and I to hike would be a smallish mountain, near where we are staying.
Now, if you haven’t been to Phoenix, it is a city set amongst various mountains. When I visited Phoenix a few years ago to go to the Fiesta Bowl, I think the favorite thing I heard the entire time I was here was the person who gave us directions that included, “You go around the mountain.” Definitely not something you hear going to football games in Indiana. So, you are more or less constantly near a mountain of some sort, most of which don’t have much development on them, and stand in attractive company to the city. Add this to the warm warm sun shining down, and I easily dismissed the earlier mountain hiking experience as an anomaly, deciding instead that Choppy and I could totally climb a mountain.
On the plus side, when we made our first attempt at mountain climbing yesterday, Choppy and I made it halfway up a mountain near North Mountain (I can’t figure out either (a) where we were, or (b) what the mountain’s name is. I am the worst tour guide ever). On the down side, at the halfway point I looked up at the rest of the mountain, looked at my very winded dog (as I sat on a rock, drinking a water and wondering how I had made it up as far as I had), and decided we were done.
The trip down was meandering and fun, though. However, the path was some strange mixture of rocks, boulders and gravel that made going down an adventure – when even the dog is slipping and sliding down, it’s probably not the best surface for hiking.
Choppy checking out a cave on the way down the mountain. This is as far as she got. Not pictured: Choppy running back out, evidently not happy with whatever she saw or smelled in there. I decided not to explore further.
Having failed to summit the mountain, thanks entirely to my lack of physical fitness, I decided I would make a second attempt at reaching the top of a mountain today.
I really do not learn.
And so, this morning, not at all bright and early, Choppy and I set out for North Mountain, where I had read there existed a paved path all the way up to the summit. This would be a vast improvement on the gravel/rock/boulder strewn path we walked yesterday, and which I believed would at least give us a chance of making it to the top of the mountain this morning. After missing the parking lot for the trail once and circling around, Choppy and I found ourselves looking at what seemed like a totally manageable hike up an asphalt path to the top of North Mountain.
It was not manageable. Not at all.
They are hard to see but these? These switchbacks are the easy part of the path. Also? My mind seems to think “manageable” has a far different definition than my legs, body and all other parts of my body that engage in physical activity do.
Somewhere near 1/3 of the way to the summit, I looked at Choppy, who appeared as fatigued as I felt. The asphalt seemed to serve little purpose, except to tease me into realizing that there are people who run up and down this mountain (as opposed to struggle to walk up the thing, like me).
At some point, I started stopping regularly to take pictures. I figured it was a good way to get a rest without looking like I needed a rest. Because obviously, all the other people on the mountain cared whether I looked out-of-shape or not. Choppy was the one who got to be in the pictures. As if I was going to take pictures of me looking like I was about to keel over.
Somewhere about halfway up the mountain, I figured we should just keep going. After all, we would probably make it to the top, and I would feel a great sense of accomplishment for having made it to the top of a mountain. You hear about people all the time who are like this – they climb a mountain, and it’s like an epiphany at the top.
And so, after huffing and puffing our way to the top, Choppy and I found ourselves looking over the City of Phoenix.
The rather disappointing summit of North Mountain. There are a bunch of antenna behind this fence, so no matter how how much you want to, you can’t get to the actual summit of the mountain. Frankly, at this point, I was glad not to have to walk the extra 20 feet or so; I would have been happy to see a sewage treatment facility if it meant I didn’t have to climb any more of the mountain.
As for the summit, sure, the view was great, but there was certainly no epiphany. I did, however, come up with a few choice thoughts while we gazed out over Phoenix (I mostly pretended to enjoy the view, but really, I was just uber-thankful that, having reached the top, we could relax for as long as we wanted and people would assume we were just contemplating our deep thoughts, rather than attempting not to throw up). Here are some of those thoughts:
- I wonder how bad it would look if I threw up right now. It would certainly make me feel better.
- You know, hiking would be a lot more popular if there was some sort of reward at the end of the hike. Like a McDonald’s. Or a bar.
- I wonder if anyone here would carry me down the mountain.
- I wonder if anyone here would carry me down the mountain if I paid him.
- Seriously, I would pay someone to carry me down.
Having reached the top of the mountain (quite possibly the last mountain I attempt to climb, ever), Choppy and I headed back down. And, despite me being the one who wanted to throw up, when we got back to the hotel room, Choppy managed to actually do so. The worst part about that? I was really just glad that, between the two of us, I am the one who appears to be more in shape.