#optoutside is REI’s campaign to skip Black Friday, to close their store so their employees can go out and have fun. And they challenge all the rest of us to join them. I wanted to participate last year, but work. But this year I got the day off AND had the added bonus of having both my favorite people here to celebrate with me. So yay!

We chose to do Siphon Draw to the Flatiron, a monolith in the Superstition Wildnerness. The one with 2000+ feet of elevation gain in 3 miles. The one with the hand over hand boulder hopping scramble to the top. The one that is a well known challenge throughout the Phoenix region. This is one of those hikes that real hikers have to do, because in the words of John Muir, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” The one I did last year with my hiking buddies that required us to call search and rescue for another hiker. The one. The big one.

We got to the trailhead just after 10am. Perfect weather. Blue skies. High of 75°. Right from the start, the climb is steady. The first half of the trail is wide, mostly smooth, with rocks and railroad ties as a stairway to the draw. The draw is a massive, 50 foot granite formation that looks like an enormous sliding board. It’s called a draw because when it rains, it draws the water into it and flows down into the canyon through a wash. We reached the draw in 90 minutes. When it’s dry, it’s easy to climb to the top of the draw.

Once you get up over the draw, the hike gets really interesting. The top half is a boulder hopping, hand over foot climbing extravaganza that will make any mountaineering lover happy. It was more fun for me this time because I knew what to expect. Being only 5 feet tall, this is hike is quite a challenge for me. But the camaraderie of the hiking community comes through every time. Complete strangers pull together and help each other out so all who want to succeed, succeed. 🙂

We made it to the top in 3 hours. It was a great accomplishment. Once we were up there, we took time to enjoy the views, take photos, and have a little lunch. 30 minutes later, we began the descent.

For some of you, going down is easier than going up. Not true for me. Going down is when I do my best falling. Again, probably because I’m the size of an average 10 year old. 🙄 I descend almost as slowly as I ascend.

Everything started out fine. The first big hurtle is near the top of the mountain, a boulder wall that is approximately 7 or 8 feet high. With the help of my favorite people, I carefully made my way down the wall, breathing a sigh of relief. Now all that was left was to hop and sit and slide the rest of the way down to the draw. About 1/4 of the way down, I slipped on a boulder, my feet flying forward, landing on my butt with a thud. It wouldn’t be a real hike if I don’t fall once. With that out of the way, we continued on our way.

The halfway point of the hike consists of a bit of a rollercoaster style hill made of craggy rocks and boulders. It’s a bit of a down up and over spot. We climbed up to the top of this spot without incident. As we were going up I said, “I’m so glad there were no major injuries out here today.”  About 5 minutes later, as we crested that rocky outcropping, those words would come back to mock me.

To be continued…

Happy Friday!