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Camelback Summit - Cholla TH
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mini location map2012-05-06
7 by photographer avatarSunDevil3
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Camelback Summit - Cholla THPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar May 06 2012
Hiking3.00 Miles 1,275 AEG
Hiking3.00 Miles   3 Hrs      1.50 mph
1,275 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
NOTE: I marked this trail as "Neutral" for dogs because, while mine did not do particularly well, there were many others on Cholla that day who did just fine. I think the best piece of canine advice here is that the ideal size for a dog on this trail is approx under 35lbs or over 60lbs. I say this because Wally, my dog, weighs in right around 60lbs and, while he was not quite big enough to make some of the necessary jumps up or down, he was plenty heavy for me to carry. Little dogs you can easily pick up and carry; big ones, presumably, can make it on their own.

After having climbed the Camel numerous times from the "normal" Echo Canyon trailhead, I was interested in finally checking out Cholla and the ascent up the camel's spine. Some light reading on HAZ caused me some second thoughts as it seemed my usual path might be preferable for the sake of my furry hiking buddy, Wally. Wally's hiking prowess had been called into question on our first two forays into the Arizona wilderness (he's an East Coast dog by birth) and I figured taking a dog up any trail with "cholla" in the name was a recipe for disaster... and hours with combs and tweezers. So, we set off down Lincoln for the familiar confines of the parking lot. Upon arrival, and discovery that dawn had not been early enough and the last spot was just being filled, we flipped around and headed for Cholla anyway (cue the inspirational music here...)

I was the first one to park on the street for the Cholla TH at that early hour so, after strapping on Wally's new doggy-saddlebags for their maiden voyage, we were off! The initial ascent is an interesting change from my many trips up Echo Canyon over the years. Not that there is anything wrong with EC (far from it), but it was interesting to be just starting out on the trail and looking down on the dirt-strewn rooftops of all the multi-million dollar palaces on the side of Camelback. It lacks the large, earthen stairs the compose the first part of the EC trail but, in its place, are numerous well-signed switch-backs before you wrap up around the north face of the camel's butt.

The trail was nice, and busy after not too long. Most of my issues resulted from needing to carry Wally up several sections (an act which, in spite of the underlying care and love, he often interprets to be a direct threat upon his life) which is exhausting to say the least. The new saddlebags also caused Wally to get himself wedged whenever he would try to squeeze through a narrow chute between two rocks (not yet being accustomed to his new width.) The saddlebags turned out to be not only the cause but also the cure to that problem though as the makers included a handy carrying-handle mounted on Wally's spine. So--with one simple tug, doggy wedged between two rocks becomes a handy-dandy doggy suitcase to be carted up the mountain!

Anyway, after a few stops to convince the dog I was not trying to kill him, we did face one very steep section near the top. I hesitate to call it a false summit (I think it only seemed that way to me because I had been prying I would not have to carry the dog up any more steep sections) but it was distinctly too steep for Wally to do it on his own. We let some of the more aggressive hikers pass us and, after some encouragement from fellow dog owners, I hoisted Wally over the last main obstacle and we were off to the summit.

Summit was beautiful, as always. Nice people, sitting around and enjoying snacks and water, all just happy to be where they are. It's always a good vibe on top of Camelback.

Some of the same sections that were difficult for Wally on the way up proved even more daunting on the way down. We pressed on though and both made it back from our first trip up Cholla relatively unscathed.
"Being unselfish is a natural high, like hiking or paint thinner."
- Homer J Simpson
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