Day 231 ~ Phoenix Summit Challenge (my way) Phoenix, AZ

November 11th, 2016 ~ Day 231


Today is the day! I plan to attempt to hike the seven summits for the Phoenix Summit Challenge. I was excited! I did it last year for the actual event, but this year I was going to do it on my own and volunteer for the event.

My first summit…Deem Hills. Starting just after five am, I was in total darkness as my hike began. There were a couple cars in the parking lot when I arrived, but I was completely alone on the trail. I wasn’t as scared as I usually am hiking alone in the dark. I was determined to do this.

It was hard navigating the trail with only a flashlight. I am grateful to have chosen to do Deems first because it’s a trail I’m familiar with. Although once I came to the saddle, in the dark, I wasn’t quite sure I was on the right trail. Luckily I did choose the right one and continued on uphill.

As I climbed, I could see headlamps in the distance, so I wasn’t completely alone. I made it to the summit, took my picture, and took a moment to enjoy the view surrounding me. I was ready to do this!

As I began my downhill ascent the sun was beginning to cast it’s colors across the horizon, that along with the city lights, made for an amazing view. I tried not to take too many pictures to get a good time, but it’s so hard when you see something so beautiful.

Deem Hills: 3.2 miles, 577 ft elevation, 1 hour 10 minutes


From Deem Hills, I headed over to the Apache Wash Trailhead where I would complete the next two summits. Just as I arrived, the sun was beginning to rise. A perfect way to start my hike.

I’m somewhat familiar with these trails, but I’m glad I chose to do them second. Hiking here in the dark, I feel I would have been lost.

They had the signs posting directions for the Phoenix Summit Challenge tomorrow. Which was kinda cool. I couldn’t get lost if I tried.

I made it to the first summit, Apache Vista, without any problems. It’s only a 1.38 mile hike to the summit, easy stuff!


Hiking from Apache Vista Summit over to Apache Ridgeback Summit was a more challenging hike, only for the distance. Adding another 4.5 miles or so to my trek.

I had a nice breeze to keep me cool as the sun began to rise and heat things up. I hiked alone, passing only a few people on the trail. Maybe all the hikers are resting up for the challenge tomorrow.

Heading toward the summit, the signage disappeared. Thinking maybe they just hadn’t gotten to putting the signs this far yet. I made it to my third summit and I was feeling good!

Heading down I was a little confused, I didn’t remember going so far north through the switchbacks, but another girl on the trail assured me that I was on the right path. Most of the time when I’m on a trail I’ve done before, I remember certain things like a bush, a rock, a cactus, or even the trail itself. I’m not sure why I felt so lost. I was again grateful I hadn’t done this in the dark.

Finally, I was on the trail I recognized and picked up my pace to get back to the trailhead.

Apache Vista & Apache Ridgeback: 5.8 miles, 560 ft elevation, 1 hour 54 minutes


Next I headed to Shaw Butte, one of my regular trails. The mountain I would be on top of tomorrow, stamping passports for the Phoenix Summit Challenge.

Starting out at the North Mountain Visitor Center, you begin on Trail 100, turning right at the Y, you follow an unnamed trail that has arrows directing you to Shaw Butte.

Once at the base of the mountain, it’s all uphill from there. I was getting tired and my feet hurt, but I actually made good time climbing up. Better than I do most days.

Making it to the top, by the towers, I took my picture in the same place I was last year, then headed back down the mountain. Going downhill on Shaw Butte always seems harder than going up the steep incline. Downhill you have to maneuver through the gravely rocks, while your toes jam against the front of your shoes from the mountain being so steep. I’m grateful for the flat sections and once I came to the bottom, I cruised back to the trailhead.

Shaw Butte: 4.3 miles, 731 ft elevation, 1 hour 36 minutes


Lookout Mountain was next. Only a quick ten minute drive from Shaw Butte, I didn’t have time to get stiff sitting in the car for this one. I did take off my socks and shoes for the drive, intending to put fresh socks on once at the trailhead.

I arrived at the 18th Street parking lot and realized, I was exhausted. It was getting even warmer out as we approached noon, but luckily the breeze was still there. I changed my socks and slowly got ready to make my climb. I began to wonder, why am I doing this? I’ve already done it once and if I were to hike 25 miles in a day, why not somewhere I’ve never been? I was debating on stopping after I finished Lookout Mountain.

Beginning the hike, immediately you start out going uphill a quarter mile or so, then making a right at the T, the trail seems to even out with little ups and downs. The trail leads you around the east side of the base of the mountain with the summit looming overhead. Once at the north end, by the 16th Street parking lot you again begin your uphill ascent to the summit of Lookout Mountain.

A trail covered with loose shale, it’s easier for me going up rather than down. After a half mile or so you have to climb over rocks doing a little bouldering. I always find it hard to navigate through this section of the trail. It isn’t well marked, basically it’s a guessing game. Making it to the summit, I sat down to take a break, still debating on stopping.

Turning my phone on, it immediately started ringing. My son, who was with his aunt, fell and busted his chin open. She wasn’t sure if he needed stitches. That made me decide the hike was over. I decided to take the south side of the mountain down for a faster hike. With so many trails blazed, I didn’t go down far enough, so even though it was less mileage it was a harder hike with the steep mountainside.

I was done. Five summits were enough for me. I didn’t have anything to prove with this hike. I’m grateful for that I was able to hike 15 miles. After making sure my son was okay, I took a hot bath, then a nap and when I awoke, I felt great! Just another beautiful day in this life!

Lookout Mountain: 2.2 miles, 413 ft elevation, 1 hour 6 minutes

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