Recently my husband and I took a kid free vacation to Arizona to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. My husband has always wanted to climb Camelback Mountain so I surprised him with a guide to help us navigate the terrain. Little did I know how difficult the climb would be for me mentally and physically. We started out just before 6am on a winding path that was steep but not difficult. As I am already winded, I turned the corner to see before me a huge wall of rocks. (see picture above) In my head I was screaming to God….”OH MY GOD … OH MY GOD … HOW AM I GOING TO FINISH THIS?” This was the only part of the mountain that had a built in hand rail and fence to assist us upward. Other than that it was my legs, my arms, my mind – literally ALL of me that had to accomplish the rest.
This mountain climb starts out the first 3/8 of a mile as a moderate trail rating. Then it turns into a double black diamond which is a trail rating of extremely difficult. At this point where the photo was taken, I had 3/4 of a mile to go which would be a 1,024 foot climb. As I have stated in previous posts, my mind is an evil thing most days. Taking me down a road of doubt, blame, shame, etc. Today was clearly no different. I was MOST positive that I would NOT complete the climb. That I would let myself down, my guide down, but most of all I would let my husband down because I wouldn’t be able to share this with him.
It felt as if I would round a small corner and there would be another wall of boulders that needed to be scaled to get to the top. I was breathless at times. I was shaky at times. I was sweaty at times. I will be honest and tell you that I wanted to quit and turn around many times. But my guide kept talking and my husband kept coming up behind me. So I took three water breaks when I needed to replenish and catch my breath. And we steadily just kept on climbing. My guide told me a few times that she wouldn’t let me stop. That today I would be making it to the top of the mountain.
There were people climbing with me that were of every color and every age. From small children to a 70 some year old lady that comes every day to climb. There were people climbing with me that were taller, shorter, skinnier, chunkier. It didn’t matter what our fitness levels were – we were all trying to do the same thing. Today we would be making it to the top of the mountain.
Approximately 60 minutes into our climb there it was. THE TOP! We came over the last boulder to the top and there was a 360 degree view of the city of Phoenix. It was breathtaking. I kept saying to my husband, “we did it”, “we did it”!!
“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” – Andy Rooney
As we were talking about our climb later that afternoon I told my husband how funny it was that we took that climb together. You see this year has been pretty rocky for us. Marriages are rocky every now and then. People just don’t want to talk about that. There have been numerous times this year when its been super difficult for us. We’ve been so tired. So exhausted. Many times it would have just been easier to quit. We’ve been breathless and shaky – not knowing that there would be another wall around the corner we would have to climb. But we kept going. It was double black diamond difficult, but we made it to the top, and we enjoyed the beautiful view from above that only God could have created.
26 years later, my husband and I are still a work in progress. We have made it to the top of this mountain but we will also have to endure the valley many more times too. But after being on the top of Camelback and sharing that moment with my beloved, I will have that view imprinted on my heart forever. I will never again let myself quit. I will finish every climb along side him. Because our love is so much sweeter at the top because of the climb!
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death…It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. – Song of Songs 8:6-7