Camelback Mountain: One Step At A Time



Anxiety is something that I’ve been trying to understand and deal with my entire life. It works behind the scenes, constantly telling me that I can’t do this or I shouldn’t do that, while other people do those exact things seemingly without much grief. I’ve always been so envious of people, like Eric, who aren’t impacted by these constant worries and fears. To be able to do something so freely, is something I’ve always dreamed of my entire life. There are so many opportunities and experiences I’ve missed out on because of debilitating fear.

And that almost happened yesterday.


After enjoying a nice lunch out with my mom and John, Eric and I set out to tackle our next hike on the famous Camelback Mountain. Naïvely, we had no idea just how “strenuous” this climb would be. Still riding yesterday’s hiking high at Pinnacle Peak, we were eager to tackle the next mountain. We set out on the Echo Canyon trail- the most difficult climb of all 4 trails on the Camelback. We didn’t know this at the time though!

A website describes it as the following: “Beyond the first ¼ mile the hike up Camelback becomes physically demanding and potentially hazardous. The slope is quite steep in spots (there are hand rails and chains to steady your ascent) and the hundreds of trampling shoes have produced a fine coating of slippery, pulverized rock. Many hikers are very fit and use the trail for fitness training.” (source)

Right from the get-go we knew this would be a whole other kind of hike, and at first, I was excited.


The start of the trail is a series of large stairs and rocky parts, but nothing that we couldn’t handle. Within minutes, we arrived at a steep part of the mountain and this is exactly when my anxiety started to kick into overdrive.

I had to climb this…without killing myself?


The pictures really don’t do this climb justice, by the way. I took one look at it and told Eric I was turning back. “I can’t do this, I’m scared”. I felt paralyzed, unable to move forward.

“You can do it Ange! We’ll go slow and you can hold onto the railings as much as you need to. Look at all the other people who are doing it just like you can.”

Looking around, he was right; I wanted to be one of those people overcoming this amazing challenge. I took a deep breath and said, “I’ll TRY,” but expecting to fail. I never considered myself to be afraid of heights, but that became apparent as soon as I got half way up this first steep climb.

I stood there in fear once again unable to proceed. My anxiety was so strong I felt a bit panicked as I thought about how the hell I was going to get down. Eric gave me another pep talk.

“Do you want to let your anxiety win again and miss out on this experience? Imagine how proud you will feel when you overcome it.”

He was right.

I was sick and tired of letting my anxiety win. If I turned back, I was accepting defeat to my fears like I have done so many times in the past. I knew physically I was in good enough shape to climb the mountain, but it was my mind that I had to train. In the end, I decided to give my anxiety a big f-you, imagining myself sticking my middle finger up at the anxiety. As silly as it sounds, it was just the visualization I needed to set myself back on track and proceed forward.


If you would’ve told me I’d be hiking in a desert mountain and not worrying about rattlesnakes, I would have said you are crazy, but that was the last thing on my mind yesterday!

As we climbed and climbed, I felt more and more fear about how I was going to get down. I pictured myself getting stuck at the top and having to be rescued out. I told Eric this and we talked about how my anxiety leads me to think too much in the future, constantly worrying about things that probably will never happen.

“How about we take this climb one step at a time?” He asked.

Not only did I think that was a great idea, but I realized that this climb was a metaphor for life. I always worry about the future and I dream up bad outcomes that are “likely” to happen, so instead, I don’t bother doing them many times. This was exactly what I was doing on this mountain: self-defeating by thinking too far into the future.


“That’s a great idea.” I finally admitted. And that’s exactly what I tried to do for the rest of the hike. One step at a time. I wouldn’t think about the heights, falling, getting stuck, or slipping on a big rock and hitting my head. I would just think about which step I had to take next.

We climbed higher and higher and an hour passed. My confidence was growing, but the fear about getting down still lingered in my mind.


We finally reached the top after about an hour and 15 minutes (I’m not really sure as my Garmin lost reception!), and we were blown away by the 360 views.


“You wanted to quit”, Eric reminded me.


I was so glad that I didn’t.


We grabbed our bag and took out the energy balls that I made before leaving. I suspected we’d need some energy on this hike, but I never knew how much!


While standing at the summit and feeling proud, I decided to call them “Reach Your Peak” energy balls. It just seemed so fitting.


We bit into these crispy and chewy balls and suddenly everything seemed right in the world. Our energy lifted and I felt ready to tackle the long, steep descent.

“We better get going. Sundown isn’t far off.”, I worried looking at Eric’s watch reading 4:15pm.


The descent turned out to be fine and we just took it slow. The hardest part I had was not slipping on the rocks with my runners (proper hiking sneakers are highly encouraged!!), but we just took it easy. I was jealous of Eric’s long legs, able to reach the ground without having to stretch and slink downward on a big rock.


We finally reached the bottom of the mountain after about 2.5 hours, with legs like Jell-O and a pride for overcoming such an amazing challenge. This climb taught me so much and I felt myself feeling emotional by the end. I walked away feeling more proud than I felt after my half-marathon races.

I also realized after this hike just how much Eric enjoyed this type of activity. I’d never seen him so eager and excited about any type of “exercise” like this! And I use the term exercise loosely here, because while it’s a KILLER workout, that doesn’t seem to be the main point. It’s much more than that.

Eric kept saying how much he loved it, and I’ll admit, his confidence and enthusiasm was infectious.


I think we are hooked.

Here’s a short video I put together about our experience. Please excuse how tired I am in the video!!! Also, there is a really shaky part in the video that Eric taped, so if you get nauseous easily I would take caution when watching.


Now that I’ve overcome such a strong fear, I find myself asking: What else can I do?

Have you ever overcome a strong fear?

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{ 197 comments… read them below or add one }

Lexi @ Cura Personalis Foodie January 25, 2012

YAYYYYY! I am so glad you loved Camelback. It was a lot tougher than I expected too but so so so enjoyable. I can’t wait to go again :)


Nikki@ActiveVegetarian January 25, 2012

Wow, this looks incredible. I am so Jealous :)


The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh January 25, 2012

I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes I am so proud of you!! At my highest weight, this is how I lived my life, scared I could do anything and not even bothering to try. How wonderful you have such a supportive hubby to believe in you and help you through that just like I do.

Last year we went on a hot air balloon ride over the Napa Valley. It is one of those “someday” things most people put on their lists (or the hell no list! ;-) ) but I was so proud we did it. Honestly, I was more petrified of getting in and out of the thing since there was no step stool but what I noticed was EVERYONE sucked at getting in and out. No one did it gracefully and from then on I knew I could do anything I wanted or dreamed of. Keep on conquering that fear Angela, it will lead you to amazing places!


angela January 25, 2012

Wow that’s so great to hear! Isn’t it so freeing?


Moni'sMeals January 25, 2012

I am so proud and Happy for you! You are awesome, way to work through the challenge…the challenge of the MIND!

You are such an inspirtion…you did it for you and Sketchy too, right!? Eric is the best to help…good job Eric!!



Adrienne J January 25, 2012

What a great post Angela! And awesome job making up and down that mountain!! I often think too far in the future too. Worrying doesn’t do us any good.


Mike Lieberman January 25, 2012

Great job. It’s an amazing feeling to be out in nature and have that feeling, then overcoming it.

A few years back, I hiked the Grand Canyon. The hike up was amazing. When I got to the top, I had so many feelings rushing through me – happiness, sadness, nausea, etc.

I’m working on acknowledging these feelings and understanding that they will pass and are just there to protect me. I thank them for that and continue.


angela January 25, 2012

Mike, congrats on hiking the GC! How amazing. I would love to some day. It’s such a great point to recognize that it’s ok to feel those mixed feelings…like you said many of them are there for a reason!


Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table January 25, 2012

Hiking is such a fun workout – way to overcome and reach the peak! I need to get out there one day – so much outdoor beauty to take in!


Jessi January 25, 2012

Congratulations on your trimuph! Overcoming a fear is truly a HUGE victory in life, no matter what it is. I have had 2 similar experinces, one recently and one about 3.5 years ago. Recently, I tried to go skiing – on a bunny slope. I am 27 and haven’t been skiing since I was 8. I remembered the basics – make a “pizza” with your skis to stop – but when I wne todwn the bunny slope fo rthe first time, I couldn’t stop. My husband helped grab me to stop and I panicked – for an hour. They ski resort offered free lessons, but I was letting my fear get in the way of even that. I told him “I’m taking my skis off, please go have fun, meet me when yuo are finished.” I almost let my fear take over completely. I was afraid of falling or running into something and breaking a bone or worse. I am a yoga teacher and I knwo that sometimes falling is part of the process, but I couldn’t get passed it. Eventually I took a few breathes and le tmy nagging conscience lead me to the ski instructors. I had an hour lesson, learned techniques, skiied down the bunny hill, made it to the smaller chair lift, and never even fell! And to think I would have missed out on that great opportunity!
A few years ago, we were on our honeymoon in California in the desert. We, also, decided to go hiking. The mountains weren;t veruy big, so we decided to go off the beaten path. We didn;t realize that the mountains were mostly loose dirt and pebbles, with a few more substantial rocks here and there. It was scary to climb due to this, even though it wasn;t very high. I too worried about how to get down, but just kept saying “We’ll get to it when we get to it. We can take it slow.” When we reached the top, it was nearly dusk and we could see the city below – it was beautiful. Then in the distance an ambulance drove by with the siren on, and on the peaks behind us coyotes came out and started to howl. They wee so close and no one else was on the trails! I panicked and knew we had to get down fast, but I was terrified, again, of falling. My other option was being eaten, so after my husband convinced me, we started down. I scooted on my bottom a lot, crab walking, because it felt safer for me. Its a funny story to retell now, but at the time, I felt panic. To think I wanted to stay on teh top of a mountain with coyotes than make my way down. Both of those experiences were just learning processes. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to work on my anxiety and fear as much. I’m glad you were abel to overcome it and share it with everyone. I think hearing of others experiences and fears can help us all overcome ours.


angela January 25, 2012

Hey Jessi, Thank you for sharing! Your stories are so inspiring. I too have faced some fears on the ski hill (while snowboarding) so I can relate to that so much.


Cindy Robinson January 26, 2012

As I was reading your story Ange, I was thinking of the same fears I had on the ski slopes in CO, skiing for my first time a few years ago. My husband is a great skiier, and took my on a blue my first time, after I learned the basics. His confidence in me was greater than mine. After I took a few spills I was terrfied. I let my anxiety get the best of me too, but eventually learned to take it one stroke at a time. I’m so glad you both were able to overcome your fears with the help of your husband’s encouragement!!


Brittany @Little b's healthy habits January 25, 2012

That’s great! Congrats on your accomplishment! I’ve lived in PHX for about 7 years now and have only hiked it once, and we didn’t make it all the way up! It’s only about 10 minutes from me, so I need to get to the top one day soon!!


Kathryn January 25, 2012

What a great accomplishment. One of my teachers (yoga, of course) said that anxiety is about living in the future and depression is about living in the past. Makes sense huh. It is tough to live in the present, but sure it is worth it!


angela January 25, 2012

Wow I love that quote…so cool!


Shanda January 25, 2012

I did this exact hike in just a couple months ago in October! I’m afraid of heights and I was terrified for the entire climb. Me and my friend accidentally took a wrong turn on our way down and had to do a big detour around the side of the mountain to get back to the trail…probably one of my top 5 scariest moments ever. I felt so amazing when we finished the hike though, such a great feeling…congrats on finishing pushing through your fears too!


angela January 25, 2012

So glad you got down safely. I was amazed at how easy it was to take a wrong turn!


ali janine @ This Ninja Eats Broccoli January 25, 2012

Wow this post really struck a chord with me. A few years ago I took a course that involved going to Arizona for 3 weeks of studying and the profs included a hike down the Grand Canyon. There was an option not to do it if you felt you weren’t capable of it and my anxiety got the best of me and I decided not to do the hike. That being said, it is a strenuous hike and I did have asthma. But looking back I’m pretty sure I could have done it. So it’s always been one of my regrets and hopefully one day I’ll have the opportunity to do it. If Eric likes crazy hiking maybe you guys should put that on your list for your next trip to AZ :)

Also – I LOVE your earrings, and I love the fact that your wore them hiking:)


Eve January 25, 2012

That is funny!!! I had to go back and look at her earrings, but you’re right…they are fabulous and I too love the fact that she wore those hiking!!! :D


angela January 25, 2012

haha!! We were out and about for lunch earlier in the day and completely forgot to take them off, but now im glad I didnt maybe? ;)


Eve January 25, 2012

Ironically, though I’ve always been a prudent person, when I was younger, I truly had no fear. I remember being 15 and committing to myself that I would never live my life with regrets. I grew up surfing and sailing, and at about 19 I boarded a plane to a foreign country (France), not speaking a word of French, landed, found myself an apartment, and started school. I don’t ever remember being afraid, and if I was, I refused to acknowledge it.

Now, however, at 44, and with a few scary knocks along the way, I have fallen into this same trap you describe, and I HATE IT. I was shaking my head as you described missing out on so many of life’s adventures because of fear, and of watching others do these same things with apparent ease, while I struggle to find the courage to get there. Small things, that are nothing compared with some of the amazing experiences I accomplished without hesitation, stop me in my tracks. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out when this happened, why, and how in the heck to get over it and move on.

Your writing this morning was exactly the thing I needed today. Thank you for allowing us to share in your journey.


angela January 25, 2012

Eve, Thank you for your comment. I wish you all the best with overcoming those fears. I too feel that they can quickly creep up on me and spiral out of control if I don’t do something about it. I find sometimes even just the “smallest” achievement can set me back on the right track.


Christina January 25, 2012

I feel like you took the thoughts out of my head and put them into words!! I have similar issues with anxiety. I OFTEN project into the future and ALWAYS think the worst is going to happen. The train of thought you wrote above is exactly how I’d be thinking (won’t be able to get down, I’ll slip and fall, etc).

I’m SO SO proud of you Angela!!!! I work on my anxiety issues and it is not an easy task. A regular yoga practice has helped me immensely.


angela January 25, 2012

Thanks Christina!


Erica January 25, 2012

Wow! I totally teared up reading that. At the risk of sounding trite, I am so proud of you. I understand how that fear can feel and how defeating it can be, but you kicked that fears a$$ girl and should be damn proud of yourself!! On a side note, I love that your hubby was totally supportive and helped to push you out of your comfort zone just enough to make you realize you could totally conquer Camelback! You have inspired me to work on my own fears and get out of my own comfort zone a little more frequently. Thank you :)


Marion January 25, 2012

That’s awesome. Congrats! Will you be posting the Reach Your Peak energy balls recipe. They look yummy!


Emily (Edible Psychology) January 25, 2012

What a beautiful post! Congratulations on conquering your fear and going for it! That takes balls – and I don’t just mean the Reach Your Peak kind! ;-)



Tracy January 25, 2012

Congrats on overcoming your fear and climbing the mountain! Fear is such a tricky thing, luckily Eric was there to help encourage you to overcome it.

I love that you wore earrings and makeup on your hike and that after 2.5 hours you still looked great!


Tanya @ Vegan Faith January 25, 2012

Love the video! YOur smile is infectious! I just heard Mina Samuels (author of Run Like A Girl) speak at a conference last week and she talked about the transformative power that sports and fitness can have on your life. It acts as a metaphor for life. Participating in sports (such as hiking in your case today) allows you to achieve new heights (pun intended) and realize you can do that in every aspect of your life. A great quote from her speech “Sports are a practice field for life.” Great job! And I wasn’t going to tell you yesterday, but when I was in Phoenix last year we hiked Camelback and a friend fell and broke her collar bone. I know that info would not have helped yesterday! And so it is with any situation in life, someone will always have a story about “a friend who that happened to” but we must take charge of our own lives and make decisions for ourselves!


angela January 25, 2012

I couldn’t agree more Tanya!


Fiona January 25, 2012

That was a really inspiring story that I’m sure many (myself included) can relate to. thank you for writing so honestly! I have a husband named Eric too and he is from Toronto and we sound a lot like you guys! He sounds like a great husband, just like mine. :)


Nikki T January 25, 2012

Awesome!! I’m so glad you didn’t give up!
This past September I hiked the Inca Trail to Macchu Pichu in Peru…I highly recommend it!!


Janine @ThePurpleGiraffe January 25, 2012

Awesome post. I’m so proud of you for taking it one step at a time and getting the reward of an amazing view and an amazing accomplishment at the end! :)


Jasper @ crunchylittlebites January 25, 2012

Dear Angela, I just want you to know that I have been having SUCH a difficult past four months. Most of my personal struggle and unhappiness, I find, comes from WRONG or DISTORTED expectations that I have for myself and that I have for my body. If Jasper doesn’t like her body (which she never does) then Jasper will not be happy. Truth is, “my body” is just one way of channeling all of my unhappiness so that I may focus on one thing like my outward appearance, etc. I see a dietitian and a psychotherapist so I am working on life, slowly. Really, I just wanted you, Angela, that it is not just posts like this one (this post is AweSome – anxiety, etc.) but any and every post that you have poured your heart and self into, Angela means something to me. You really do glow Angela.

much love – Jasper


angela January 25, 2012

Thank you Jasper! Wishing you all the best with overcoming your own struggles.


Betty January 25, 2012

I grew up in Phoenix, and I always wanted to climb Camelback Mountain, but was always too anxious or afraid. Every time I thought about climbing it, I would make up some excuse about why today wasn’t the right day. Your post was inspiring–I think I am going to try it next time I’m back in Arizona. Thanks for the inspiration, and I love your blog!

— Getting Better Betty


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 25, 2012

I’m happy to hear that Betty! Let me know how it goes :)


Lisa January 25, 2012

Congratulations! So sorry to hear you were so frightened of our “little” mountain that we take for granted, but so happy that you overcame your fears and enjoyed yourself! Well, you’ve hit the northern and central Phoenix..maybe South Mountain (which is not as strenuous and has a TON of trails that are suitable for trail running), or much further east, Superstitious mountains. Both pretty places! Our weather is gorgeous this week, so enjoy!!


Lauren (Maillard's MIstress) January 25, 2012

I so strongly sympathized with your first paragraph. I feel that way on and off sometimes, and it’s really difficult for others without anxiety to understand that. It can be so paralyzing.

I took my first steps last year in training for a half marathon and am now training for my fourth. Seeing that I can run that distance, I have developed an interest in doing lots more outdoorsy and adventurous things. I’d love to go caving and run a marathon.


Mellissa January 25, 2012

I climbed Camelback last year for the first time and also really really hate heights. But I did it and the views were so worth it!


Mandy Jo January 25, 2012

So happy you overcame your fear!!!! And Kudos to Eric for not pressuring you but encouraging you!
I too have lived with a similar anxiety. I continually dread the future and am known to be an “overthinker.” This has prevented me from doing SO much in my life but the thing that stands out the most is the dream of my career. I have ALWAYS wanted to work with animals in some aspect but I never pursued it. As a child I remember just dreaming of working in the ocean with whales, dolphins and fishies! Instead, I let the fear take over. I went to school and got a degree in Communication (perhaps I wanted to communicate with the dolphins? who knows.) Now, 12 years after graduating from college I am finally doing it. I am leaving my “comfort zone” (aka desk job) and moving across the country to go to Zoo School in Florida! I do find myself thinking “what if I get there and I hate it?” and “am I going to be the old maid in school?”
I will now take your advice and picture my middle finger flipping off my anxiety (love that!) b/c it is what I want and I need to do this!!! A good friend of mine always reminds me that “this is your life, you have to live it as you want b/c you only get this one shot at it.” She is right, it doesn’t matter that I’m dreading being the 30 year old “zoobie” I have 30+ years of working when I’m done. I can either work in an office for the rest of my life in my comfort zone (blah) or spend a few years in school and do what I want. Hmmmm. I think I’ll pass on the comfort zone. :)
Thank you for sharing your story. It was another reminder of how important it is to give anxiety a big eff you! :)


angela January 25, 2012

Mandy Jo, Thank you for sharing! You are an inspiration to many. Goodluck with everything and keep me posted!


Kaila @healthyhelperblog! January 25, 2012

So glad you were able to complete the hike! Not only is a great accomplishment but I would have hated for you to miss out on the amazing view at the top! Its really breathtaking!


Katie January 25, 2012

You are awesome! Congratulations on such a huge accomplishment physically, but even more so emotionally. I too tend to think too far into the future, “borrowing trouble” as my mother often says. :) One step at a time is great advice!

PS. I make those energy balls all the time. Love them!


Nicole January 25, 2012

You are awesome!
Your story here reminds me of my husband and myself so much.


Kathy January 25, 2012

Such a beauiful view. Congratulations on making it the whole way. I too am scared of heights. I probably would have froze mid way and had to be helicoptered out of there. Great job!!!


Jenny January 25, 2012

Great photography! I love the way you use pictures to tell a story. Congrats on conquering your fear!


Hollie January 25, 2012

I am in tears reading this! Thank you for sharing, so honestly, your experience. I suffer from severe anxiety as well and I am always worrying about the “what-ifs”.


Tiff January 25, 2012

Wow – what a view! That looks like a fun (yet very very challenging) hike.


gia January 25, 2012

That is a really great post. I love that your husband was so encouraging too, that is just wonderful. Someone told me that I always talked about my fears, and that one way to get rid of them is to face them. So, I have applied to grad school and I may be moving (two BIG fears). I’m anxiously waiting to hear back, but I need to remember that even if I don’t get in, my path right now is to just keep facing my fears.


Cait's Plate January 25, 2012

INCREDIBLE. I can’t believe you’re in shorts and a tank top! SO SO jealous as I’m bundled up in my down coat!


Lindsey January 25, 2012

Good for you! I am going to AZ next month and only wish I could do that hike. I have anxiety about so much to, and like you wish I could do things without constant worry. I need to take cues from you for sure :)


Ellie@Fit for the Soul January 25, 2012

wowwww grrreat job Angela!! I’m so proud of you! And it’s so sweet how Eric encourages you so much! And you encourage him with your perseverance~ :D The scenery is gooorgeous and I hope to someday climb that beast. And I think the pic does it justice, alright! It looks uber steep.

I also can’t help but think just HOW MUCH mountains and hiking is like life in every sense of the word. I especially relate that to my walk with God, b/c He never promises that life will be easier and in fact, things MAY get harder! But I have Him holding me by the hand and taking me along this amazing journey. Have a wonderful day <3


Sarah January 25, 2012

I am a fairly new reader to you blog and really adore it. This post was very inspirational as someone who also suffers from anxiety. I keep trying to take things one day/moment/incident whatever it might be at a time. Thank you for sharing!!

Also – those energy balls look amazing – do you have a recipe for them you can share?


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 25, 2012

Hey Sarah, Glad you enjoyed it! I will either share the recipe in the cookbook or on the blog…I haven’t quite decided yet, but it will be coming eventually!


Sarah January 26, 2012

Thanks, Angela!
Also, when you use chia seeds in your smoothies, do you mix them with liquid first or just add them right in?


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