Can big guys climb mountains?

 First "vertical" climb.  Where are the switchbacks?

First "vertical" climb.  Where are the switchbacks?

A very good friend of mine called one day  with a question.  We were scheduled to do a 2 day seminar together in Phoenix for the ICCFA and CANA on cremation operations and cremation arrangements.  His question was "hey, we are going to be in Phoenix!  Do you want to hike up Camelback mountain?"  What am I going to say....NO?  This friend is very athletic and fit and since I have been leading a healthier lifestyle and going to the gym regularly etc. I thought SURE!!  I can hike 1.2 miles up 1,250 feet.  That'll be easy.  And of course I wasn't going to lose face with my friend.  He's like that....will NEVER let me live it down if I said no.  I can hear him now "Come on Nancy, you can do it.  Don't be a p****y!". 

 Looking down from one of the easier climbs.

Looking down from one of the easier climbs.

So, I packed my hiking boots, flew to Phoenix and was literally ready to kick it into high gear!  We started the hike and it was fairly hot, but not bad.  The incline was gradual and I thought "I got this!".  I was huffing a bit as we climbed along a very clear and manageable set of switchbacks but was feeling great.  Then we came to the first vertical climb. What?  Vertical climb?  That is NOT hiking.   I looked at it and thought to myself something that I wouldn't repeat in polite society.  

Once I resigned myself to the fact that Camelback Mountain doesn't believe in switchbacks after the first "tease",  normal trails just aren't that fun, and that I was thinking with the

mindset of the Larry of 5 years ago that weighed 50+ pounds more and who sat in a desk chair or airplane seat for 80 hours per week.  Mindfully of that, I decided to give it a go.  Up I went.  Of course Mr. Fit Boy was already at the top of this first of MANY vertical climbs on the way to the summit but he was looking down and actually encouraging me.  (I know, shocking!) So I kept going and going and going and yes, going.  I shredded my hands and fingernails on this hike holding onto the rocks and cliff walls trying to keep my balance.  I stumbled only once and scraped my knee and elbow but hey, what's a hike without a little blood?  

Thoughts going through my mind as I climbed were varied but, upon reflection, very interesting.  I was thankful for my strong legs but cursing the long length of them.  I decided that super tall people are not meant to climb rock walls.  I struggled to find a time that I was ever described as 'graceful' and figured out why.  I marveled at the absolutely glorious beauty surrounding me.  I thought about the rattlesnakes that were likely no more than feet away and hope that they didn't decide to get nasty.  I cursed the young fit ripped boys and girls blowing past me while RUNNING....yes, running up the mountain.  I regarded the strange sights like the elderly man hiking in a speedo and the man hiking in house slippers. There was even a barefoot gentleman hiking up the mountain while holding a watermelon.  Great stuff to keep my mind from thinking "What are you thinking, turn back"!  

When we all were down off the mountain feeling great and accomplished I thought of the fact that I didn't chicken out or take the lazy route.  I got my fat butt up the mountain and burned enough calories to eat at Pizzeria Bianco for dinner!   5 years ago I know that I wouldn't have had the same feeling.  I'd be greeting my friend from the pool at the hotel after he returned from the hike.  I can honestly say I am glad I was able to change my mindset!  So, YES big guys can climb mountains!

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
— Henry David Thoreau