Several months ago my friend Matt suggested I join him to hike the Phoenix Summit Challenge. You have 11 hours to hike the seven summits of Phoenix at a total of 22.5 miles and 6000 feet elevation. The peaks include Papago Park West Buttes, Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak, South Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Shaw Butte, North Mountain.
Matt and I both underwent ACL knee reconstruction (my second) and decided this would be a great test to determine where we were physically and provide motivation to train for an event and strengthen our knees.
We joined up with another friend and started before daybreak at 6am. We whipped through the first peak at 3 miles and were off to start the 2nd one as the sun was rising. Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak proved to be very challenging and we lost a lot of time.
The 4th peak South Mountain was across town and at 7 miles was the longest hike of the challenge. I thought it might be a bit less of a grade but it was a solid uphill climb for 3.5 miles. The top was socked in by clouds and sprinkling which is very unusual for Arizona but made for a great experience and by the time we’d reached the top the clouds had cleared and it was blue skies all around. South Mountain was a bear but by the time we finished that hike we were definitely feeling sore but ready for the 3 peaks. Unfortunately we didn’t keep a swift enough pace came to the realization that finishing the Challenge this year wasn’t in the books.
But for Matt and I it was a mission accomplished as both of our knees held up well and I feel I’ve cleared the mental hurdle of gaining confidence in my knee which is always the toughest after an injury/surgery.
If you’ve got a chance to do the Summit Challenge I highly recommend it. I came away from the hikes with a new found appreciate for the beauty of Phoenix and I know you will too.