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Because it was there, that's why

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

While in Arizona last week, I stayed at the Camelback Resort. Directly across was a mountain named, as you might imagine, Camelback Mountain. For reasons I have yet to completely understand, my wife and I decided to climb Camelback Mountain.

The brochure for the mountain stated there were two courses to hike to reach the top of the mountain. The hardest was named Echo, and listed as difficult, "for serious hikers only."

Well, we decided Echo was for us.

Now, prior to climbing the mountain, I also decided to work out at the weight room on the morning of the climb. My wife found out I was going to work out and said, "I didn't bring anything to work out in because we usually don't work out when we're on vacation."

I said, "we don't usually work out when we're not on vacation."

By the time I got to the mountain, I was already completely exhausted from the workout I'd already performed. Nevertheless, I was quite confident that I could make the climb as we headed up Echo trail. The first portion of the trail was a very steep incline. We climbed for what seemed like forever when I finally reached a stone marker that said 3/8 of a mile. This meant we were still 1 mile from the top.

At this point, if I had brought my cell phone with me, I would have immediately called 911 and asked for a Medevac off the mountain. I've seen people complete the New York Marathon less winded at this point than I. I asked my wife to take a picture of me, figuring it would be probably be the last known live photo taken of me.

Oh, if I'd only known what lay ahead. Within another half mile, the terrain turned completely to a 90 degree upward angle with large boulders, which one could only climb by hand-to-foot motion. Most of the people climbing at this point appeared to be about 25 and they probably ran 10 miles a day. I, on the other hand, consider the walk to the mailbox each morning exhausting exercise.

It was about this point that I began to reconsider my earlier decision in the morning to eat three doughnuts, a bag of potato chips, a 20-ounce container of chocolate milk and a 20-ounce Pepsi. Approximately every 50 to 100 yards, I would stop to remark on the beautiful landscape one can see from the mountain ... as I gasped for air like I'd just been rescued from a burning building.

After a little over an hour, we mercifully made the top of the mountain. Everyone oohed and aahed as to how it was worth the effort to see the panoramic view of Phoenix and Scottsdale. As far as I'm concerned, the same view could be obtained by renting a helicopter and flying over the mountain with a lot less agony.

On the way down the mountain, we encountered one of the few people older than me who asked, "How tough is it to reach the top of the mountain?"

My wife discouraged the old, overweight geezer, but I told him it was a breeze. He was dressed in yellow and green, an obvious Oregon fan, and I figured it would probably cut down on the crowd at the game later if I sent him on up the mountain.

When we finally arrived at the bottom of the mountain, two fire trucks and an ambulance came roaring up. I simply leaned upon my car and said, "What took you guys so long to get me?"

Fortunately, they didn't come for me, but rather to rescue someone at the top of the mountain who had collapsed. My wife is sure it was the Oregon fan whom I gave such poor advice.

I just called a buddy and told him I think we might have found you a seat at the game.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.