Best Badass Hike - 2008
Are you one of those nauseating people who conquer Camelback Mountain in an hour-10 without breaking a sweat? Are you so filled with self-love that you then preen before the opposite sex at the bottom of the trail, flipping your hair and stretching your muscles and stuff while we lowly sweathogs are still grinding up those damned log steps? Well, meet the Flatiron, sucka. It'll kick your hubric booty.
Camelback is one nasty bee-yatch. The tallest point in the Valley, she tops out at 2,704 feet, and there's an elevation gain of about 1,200 feet from the Echo Canyon trailhead. These figures would make a Himalaya vet chortle, but they don't tell the whole story, and we'd like to see a snowhead tackle the Camel in, say, August. We'll see who chortles last.
The appropriately named formation called the Flatiron — it looks, for all the world, like an iron — rests haughtily at 4,800 feet, at the pinnacle of the Superstition Mountains. The elevation at the jumping-off point, the Siphon Draw trailhead, is about 2,000. Math says: two Camelbacks up, two Camelbacks down. Uh . . . ouch.
The trek starts near the campground at Lost Dutchman with the part of the hike we call the Tedious Trudge — 1.6 miles of rocky, irritating going on a gradual rise that leads up to and over the base of the Supes and into the maw of the Basin, a humongous natural amphitheater. This part of the hike accounts for about 1,020 feet of the total elevation gain.
The heartaches begin at the 1,021st foot. There, you're greeted by a vertical view of what's in store for the next, oh, mile and 1,800 vertical feet or so. Now, 1,800 feet in one puny mile is pretty vertical — in fact, it don't get much more straight up than that. More daunting still, the path (loosely termed) follows a natural drainage littered with giant boulders and prickly flora. It's very much like the Camelneck route on Camelback — but worse.
One more quick knock on ol' Dromedary Mountain: People say C-Back offers the best local panoramic views, but pay those unschooled people no heed. The 360 that fills the sockets from the top of the Supes puts anything else within a 100-mile radius to shame.