I was particularly struck by this when I stood at the bottom of Scottsdale, Arizona's Camelback Mountain, prepping to head up a mile.
Twenty years ago, you would not have found me at 7:15 in the morning, dressed in hiking gear with water bottle in hand all gung-ho to climb straight up a mountain. Honestly, you probably wouldn't have found me doing that even 10 years ago. (It was only about five years ago that I started hiking much at all.)
But a few weeks ago, on assignment for Adventure Girl during a press trip organized by the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, I popped out of my guide's car at the trailhead and took a deep breath.
Camelback is similar in many ways to the Manitou Springs Incline. You first have to claim a parking space — getting there as early as possible helps, and weekdays are easier than weekends. There are two trails up: Cholla and Echo Canyon. My guide — one of the CVB staff who regularly hikes the area — had chosen the latter, a 1.2-mile trip to the summit. The beginning of this trail consists of railroad tie stairs and small rocks. Then there are two "rail" sections, where I had to haul myself up steep walls of rock while clinging to a metal handrail.
Once we got past the second rail, the hiking turned primarily to scrambling large rocks, a section where I wished I'd had my own "Camelbak" instead of my water bottle. (Thankfully I did have a nice hiking companion and a carabiner, so we hooked my bottle onto her pack when things got tricky. Of course coming down I wished I'd had my trekking pole. It would have helped my knees and given me more confidence to move a little faster.)
The big difference between Arizona and Colorado, of course, is the altitude. Camelback climbs 1,200 feet in a little over a mile, from 1,424 ft. to 2,704 ft. The Incline starts at 6,600 ft. and climbs about 2,000 feet in just under a mile.
But just because you might breathe easier due to the lower altitude, you still have to fight the heat of Arizona. And while we started hiking Camelback early enough that I didn't feel it on the way up, I did feel it warming on the way down.
Round-trip, the hike took us about 2 1/2 hours — and that included a 10-or-so-minute break at the top, where the views are stunning everywhere you look.
I have to admit, on this side of the hike now, I kind of feel about Camelback like I do about the Incline. I did it once, and that's good enough for me.
As I'm aging, I am finding myself more inclined to tackle new physical challenges, but I'm also finding myself less inclined to do them more than once because someone else thinks I should (or because I think someone else thinks I should).
Would I recommend Camelback if you happen to find yourself in Scottsdale?
Will you find me on that trail again?
But that doesn't mean I won't seek out a different one in the area. And actually, I think the McDowell Sonoran Preserve might be calling my name.