My dad and I were visiting family in Arizona over Christmas break. My dad had lived in Arizona in his early twenties, but I had never set foot in the state before. I was awed at the landscape, trying to make up my mind about whether or not I'd enjoy living here, seeing as my career will likely take me down south eventually.

Anyways, my dad had been raving about climbing Camelback mountain, and although I was too, I had no idea what to expect. I was glad that it was just him and I (none of our relatives joined us) because I knew this would be a great experience, and sharing it with just my dad was special.

So we get to the mountain, and… well I have to give you the visual. We weren't going out to the middle of nowhere with climbing gear, helmets, and a guide to help us along. The mountain was in the middle of the Phoenix suburbs, and there was a trail that wound from the mountain's base to the highest point. All we had were water bottles and tennis shoes, and that's all we needed.

But it was a good hour and a half's hike to go up and come back down, according to my dad, and the sun was already getting hot at ten in the morning. I was ready, though—what other time would I be able to climb a mountain?

We began, and since I wasn't in the best of shape, I was breathing hard halfway up. The view became more and more amazing the higher we got. I concentrated on following my dad and being careful not to slip. It was grueling at times, not gonna lie, but I knew it would be worth it.

Finally, we reached the top. People were looking at the view—houses and buildings spread all over the valley with little mountains (2300-2700 feet high) scattered here and there, several other taller ones bordering the valley. The cities, small clusters of skyscrapers under a thin cover of smog, towered over the gird-like layout of the suburbs. The sky was blue and completely clear, with the sun almost at its highest. With the breeze that came with our altitude, it was warm but not hot. Oh, and there was a Christmas tree—a legit Christmas tree, with ornaments and everything, all set up in the middle. I took pictures and looked around for some time, mesmerized. Then we headed down.

And coming down was the best part, not because it was easy but because it just was…

First, it was easier on our bodies going down, and the trail was now in the shade. My dad and I weaved our way around, and then I got to lead. This was a mistake, as I soon strayed off the path, and we found ourselves well below it after a few minutes. We tried to cut across by climbing a steep wall of rock, but not wanting to take the risk, we turned back.

We returned to the path and went on our way, and between the workout I'd just had and the beauty of the view from the top, I was extremely happy and felt very peaceful for the rest of our trip down (call it cliché, but that's the truth). It was a nice break from all the running around, visiting people, going out to eat. That was all good, but this was just us, conquering the mountain, and—most importantly—being close to nature, something that's not so easy to do in the foot of snow we had back home.

If I lived in Arizona, I'd climb that mountain every day.