What could make metro Phoenix's toughest short trail even tougher? Braving it in the area's legendary heat, of course. Echo Canyon Trail ascends about 1,200 vertical feet in 1.5 miles, and is known to reduce even tough Arizona Cardinals players to whimpers. When springtime coolness disappears, the fire department comes out more often to Camelback Mountain as unprepared or unfit hikers suffer. Be warned: Even experienced hikers can succumb to extreme heat. Several hikers, including some on Camelback, have died from heatstroke in the last couple of years. Yet when the mercury was expected to reach a record-setting (for the day) 119 degrees on a Saturday in June, our most-avid Camelback-hiking friend put the call out on Facebook: "Who's going with me?" About five other guys showed up, he told us later. On the hottest days, the reddish surface of Camelback is so appropriate it's ridiculous — this feels and looks like Hell. Trapped in one of several gullies where no breeze stirs, surrounded by super-heated rock on three sides, temperatures may soar to more than 130 degrees. Why do they do it? "I like the exercise factor, and I like to sweat my ass off," says our friend. We mention that it's also nice when the usually-packed parking lot is empty. "Oh, yeah," he says with enthusiasm. "Put down that the parking lot's empty." On June 30, following a string of heat-related tragedies in Arizona, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board considered a motion to close its mountain-park trails when the temperatures rose over 100 degrees. More than a dozen people showed up to protest the action, and only two people argued for the closures. The board voted down the measure. Sweat on!