Phoenix Summit Challenge

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.

squaw-peak-phoenix.jpgWe 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.

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