Have you ever started out on an adventure that seemed like a good idea at the time?  

Then later you found out that you should have turned back before you started?

I felt this way a few months back. I was in Phoenix, AZ for a conference. I was sharing a room with Lila, who is a health and fitness guru. She knew that I wanted to get into shape and start my fitness journey. Lila is an avid and experienced hiker.

For the longest, I’ve heard Lila rave about the high she received from climbing Camelback Mountain. When you make it to the summit, 2,704 feet above sea level, the payoff is a picturesque view of the valley.

Click on the photo to watch a fun video that Lila and I made about our adventure on Camelback Mountain

After doing a little research online, I learned that Camelback Mountain is regularly ranked one of the nation’s top hiking destinations for avid hikers. The range consists of two main trails, Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail; both of which are rated Extremely Difficult and subject hikers to steep elevation gains, very rugged terrain, and the harsh elements associated with the Sonoran Desert. Only experienced hikers with adequate preparation, during optimal weather,  should attempt to hike to the summit. So I brought up that last point to Lila. And she said, in only the way, Lila can: “ You can do! Just give it a try.”  So I decided to jump in with both feet.

At 5:00am, long before the sun was up, we were at the start of the trail. Knowing that I would be super slow, I told Lila to run up ahead of me.  Within 15 minutes, I realized I had met my match. Lila was nowhere in sight. It was one of the toughest physical activities I’ve ever done. The terrain was rocky and rough. As I made my way up the mountain, it seemed like everyone was passing me including this fragile old lady. After about 30 minutes, I came to a clearing in the mountain and could watch the sunrise. I received a text from Lila, who was almost to the summit. She recommended that I stop at the point that I made it to. It was a good stop and the degree of difficulty would only increase.

Sounds like good advice. Right? Right.

Do you think I took it? Wrong.

My ego got in the way. And I proceeded to move to the next step up the mountain.

I thought I met my match before but that was nothing compared to the next section of the mountain. I wasn’t wearing the right shoes. Before I knew it, I started slipping off the trail.  I thought I was going to tumble down the mountain backward. All I could think to myself was, “ I have to make it back home to Mr. Brown”. After that, I talked some sense into myself and started to come back the steepest part of the mountain on my butt.

At first, I was really disappointed that I didn’t make it to the summit. But after making it back to the base, I realized that it wasn’t about making to the summit. It was about getting started.

Here are the lessons from that experience:

  1. Just do it.
  2. Go with a buddy.
  3. Know your limits.
  4. Have the right equipment for the job.
  5. Don’t let your ego get in the way.