In the spring of 2010, my son and I planned on hiking up to the top of Daisy Mountain just to the north of Anthem AZ. We have been up a few times and have a gameplan that when we push ourselves (son Ryan always says afterwards “Dad, that sucked”) we can round trip the summit in just under 2 hours. It’s demanding in terms of physical endurance, stamina, and mental acuity. One misstep and you are being lifeflighted off the mountain.
So in the spring of 2010, Mom convinces Dad that at 74 years old, he’s not going to have many more chances to go to the top of Daisy Mountain so this is the year that he’s gotta join son and grandson to the top. I’ve got a couple of reservations about it but Dad is still athletic and in good shape so we round-up youngest brother Marc, 43 yrs old, and we decided to go to the top.
We give Dad a walking stick, put a hat on his head, ask him to carry a bottle of water and off we go on a beautiful 80 degree desert morning. The terrain at the base is mostly flat with a slight incline but literally the first mile of the 3 miles up is walking on a two-track dirt path.
This is the part that the biggest worry is a snake or stepping in burro crap. You keep looking at the top of Daisy and find yourself saying “it doesn’t look like we are getting any closer” for about 15-20 minutes. Dad’s confidence builds. The trail after that first mile begins to change and so does the tone of the hike from the 74 yr old. I start getting a sense that the tune goes from “hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to…” to a plain ole “oh shit, what have I got myself into?”
After 30 minutes or so, the footing gets a bit more tricky, especially for Dad but he’s an athlete, he’s got balance, he’s going to take his time and keep going. Every once in a while, we stop so pops can catch his breath but within an hour or so. we can see the flag at the summit of Daisy Mountain. It was a bittersweet moment for Dad. It’s cool that he can see the flag and know that he’s getting closer but it’s also just a speck in the distance and we have another 500 or so vertical feet to hike up. In the photo you can see the flag on the ridge right above Dad’s head/hat.
Son Ryan who runs cross-country and plays lacrosse as a sophomore in high school, has no problem racing to the next peak with this uncle Marc right behind him. I’m staying with Dad as he watches his footing and slowly ascends the last few hundred feet of the mountain. As one would expect on a crystal clear day, the view of Anthem and the surrounding area is amazing.
At last, the final push up is steep and you arrive out of breath for sure, Your heart starts to race as the flag at the summit gets closer and closer. As you reach the top, you are completely winded but the feeling of accomplishment overtakes you and you forget about the fact that your calves are on fire, your heart is pounding out of your chest, and your lungs are burning. You made it! We made it! Dad made it! Three generations ranging from 14 to 74 yr old stand on the top of Daisy Mountain. Viva la McNamara!!
Ok, so fun over. Now we have to get down and the old man’s legs are tired. We climbed up the west face of the mountain and we decide to go down the longer but less steep east face. This is where footing is critical and you have to keep your wits about you. I know as I just about-face planted into a 20 foot saguaro half way down. Dad definitely is a bit freaked out and he slowwwwly moved down the mountain. His knees and ankles are swelling and becoming more and more sore as he goes.
Youngest brother Marc leads the way……
Uncle and nephew…..
….and finally, the man of the hour(s)!!!
So how cool was that?! Three generations trek up and down Daisy Mountain one March morning. It wouldn’t have happen had Mom not been the inspiration and challenge all of us to make sure that before my Dad got a day older, he was going to say “I was at the top of Daisy Mountain”. Dad, you’re awesome!