Camelback Culture Community Spotlight: Community of the Camel

Posted by Jes Shapiro on

Starting up the switchbacks at the beginning of Echo Canyon Trail, it’s 5:30 on a pleasantly warm November morning.  The trail is lit only by the faint light from the half moon overhead and the ambient glow from the surrounding city lights. Looking up I see him.... the Praying Monk in his eternal position of supplication. Smiling, it hits me again—what a gift this place is—our Magic Mountain.
CamelbackCulture Community Blog Characters of the Mountain
Hello, I am Jes Shapiro, administrator of @camelbackculture and designer for ( and I want to thank each and every member of this varied and beautiful community. We all create the Culture. Each one of us that feels a connection to the mountain; whether you just visit once or do it everyday, whether you exclusively enjoy looking at it with a drink in your hand or you are a motivated sky runner... we and our combined experiences create the unique Culture... the Camelback Culture
Camelback Culture Community Blog Crushing on the Camel 
Camelback Mountain sits in the middle of our urban Valley of the Sun. When viewed as a Camel, it looks to the West... always to the future, like the city itself. The trail is rated as a double black diamond and is extremely challenging. However, you will see all kinds of people along the trail... even at such an early hour! All ages, races, sizes, fitness levels, regulars and first timers; drawn to make the rise, conquer their fears, witness those views and have a great time doing it!
There are many ways We love the Camel... driving around much of the Valley it sits largely in our views. But some of the most intense experiences happen on the trail. That one trail, from her head to her tail.  This confined channel of people, leading to the summit, creates an opportunity for meeting and mingling, rare in modern life. And just who will you meet along the trail? A menagerie of beautiful souls
Camelback Culture Community Blog Sandy and Ruben
Some of the best known characters are the golden members of our Community, like Grandma Sandy and Ruben. Sandy can often be found roaming up the Echo Canyon Trail, handing out love and hugs like candy to all that pass. Be prepared to selfie and she will be expecting you to post it 😆. Ruben just celebrated his 84th birthday on the summit this past summer, surrounded by friends and family. Both of them exhibit a great lesson of the mountain— movement keeps us alive and healthy!
Camelback Culture Community Blog sunrises and sunsets
There are the sunrise seekers. The people who rise well before dawn to make their way to the top before the sun. On the summit they gather, greet and selfie. Until the moment they came for arrives, when a hush will descend as everyone looks intently to the East to watch for that first streak of light to appear and officially start the day. To bookend the day, there are the sunset faithfuls; a slightly more challenging endeavor, requiring one to get back down before the park closes.  They are treated to the warm glow of the sun slipping behind Phoenix to the West, a magic all its own
CamelbackCulture Community Blog Extreme
And what double black diamond trail would be complete without the PR chasers... the Strava posters... the under 30 club (yes that’s under 30 minutes). An impressive lot of women and men striving to beat their own clock. They are balanced out with the slow and steady tribe; shining examples of one of the Camel’s greatest lessons, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will get there! Whether you make it up and down in record time or it takes you hours, all are equally valid in our eyes
CamelbackCulture Community Blog Families of the Camel
The Camel sees an impressive number of families hiking together. Multiple generations encouraging each other up, with laughter, and occasionally a few tears. But the pride when they make it; children, parents, grandparents all celebrating their achievement side by side. One of our favorite stories comes from a family from Chandler.  Their young sons wanted to hike Camelback so badly, they did extra chores to earn the privilege! Their pride was evident when they finally made summit with parents in tow
CamelbackCulture Community Blog Rescuers and Rangers
And let us not forget those that help keep us safe… our Rangers and Rescuers.  Our City of Phoenix Rangers, maintain the trails, help educate hikers and monitor the safety of all.  The Camel gives us many great days, but occasionally mishaps happen or poor choices are made, and we need assistance. This is when our Rescuers step in, often putting themselves at risk. We thank these brave people!
These are just a few of the continuous flow of characters on the Mountain stage. For together we rise.  All going through the same butt burning, mental test.  The act strips us of our differences, allowing us to sit in mutual respect and adoration— of ourselves, each other and the ancient mountain beneath our feet. Cause damn, we made it! Our reward: awe inspiring 360 views of our glorious Valley, a good time, a great workout and new Mountain Family!
We invite you to join us in #CrushingOnTheCamel 🐪🔙⛰ Come soak up the shared magic for yourself. Connect with the amAZing Community that makes up the combined Culture of our Magic Mountain. Because the more we connect the better off we all are!
Find us online:
Community pages on Instagram and Facebook - @CamelbackCulture
Our shop page on Instagram:
Email us at:
Camelback Culture - Culture - Clothes - Community 
Photo Credits:
Jes Shapiro @jes_plus_az
J.W. Richie @jwrichieofficial
Meg Wall @mwall8
Mandi Wimmer @mandiwimmer
Jeep Burke
Sandy Kloch (aka Grandma Sandy)
Kubari @kubari9
Ron St. Denis @handstand_ron
Lance Thompson @lancetho
Alex Harju @alexharju94
Ben Shapiro @threehundredsunrises
Danielle Mitchell @danimitchell8185
Paul Porras @purelypresentpaul
Lance Pershing @lance.pershing
Trevor Plautz @tplautz1 (Park Ranger)
David Metzler @camelbackmountainrescue (Park Ranger)
Special Operations Rescue @ghostsquad44

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  • Hi! This is Madison Van Nortwick. I am trying to get in contact with Jess Shapiro to talk a bit about the hiking group for a feature in Arcadia News. Please send me an email to work out a time to meet if you have time or even work out a way talk over email/phone if that works better! Thank you!

    Madison E Van Nortwick on
  • Such a heartwarming mountain and message :)

    Benny Shapiro on
  • Happy to be a part of this community. ❤❤🌵☀️

    Sarah H on

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