It’s August in Phoenix, which means it’s still hot….and muggy….basically, July and August in Phoenix is like living in a desert sauna. Sure, we Phoenicians get a fantastic winter season, but our “tax” for that glorious winter weather is that “dry heat”/monsoon sauna each summer.
What do Phoenicians do to escape the summer heat? One of the most popular things to do is to drive up to Flagstaff and camp, hike, or bike. Flagstaff’s elevation is almost 7000 feet, which makes for drastically cooler temperatures compared to Phoenix. That said, yesterday, my friend Crystal and I drove to Flagstaff in order to hike the highest point in Arizona: Humphrey’s Peak. (Apparently, we were not the only ones with that idea, because we saw a lot of people on the trail). Also, I just learned today that yesterday (i.e. August 4) was the inaugural National Summit Day–what a serendipitous piece of news!
The weather was pretty much perfect: sun, no chance of thunderstorms or lightning, a brisk 46F/8C at the summit. Humphrey’s Peak stands 12633 ft/3851 m high and is actually not a difficult hike; total round-trip distance from the Arizona Snowbowl trailhead just outside Flagstaff (the easiest trail of the 2-3 different trails to the summit) is almost 10 miles and total elevation gained is 3303 ft/1006 m. The biggest variable is whether altitude sickness will hit you. Crystal and I had hiked Humphrey’s before, but it had been a few years for both of us. We were both out of hiking shape too, so we agreed to hike at a moderate pace with breaks, if necessary (of course breaks are necessary!).
I’m happy to report that we successfully summited Humphrey’s and got to enjoy being cold! No altitude sickness for us, although we did experience the expected shortness of breath and leaden legs as we neared the summit. We got to the top in 3 hrs and 50 minutes and completed the descent in 2 hours 50 minutes, i.e. going downhill was much easier and faster. One of the best things about hiking is the food afterwards and we celebrated with some Chick-fil-a and Starbucks. Yay for cold summer temperatures, good company, successful summits, and FOOD!