PHOENIX (ARIZONA HIGHWAYS TV) -- If you're a hiker, there's always one way to keep the challenge fresh. Get up to the top faster. Maybe in less than 20 minutes?
It's a challenge David Metzler happily accepts. And he crushes it!
"That's so fast --19 minutes up the mountain! Now, when you're 19 minutes up the mountain, are you walking at all or are you just hauling butt running?" Arizona Highways TV host Robin Sewell asked.
"Um, I just call it kind of a run-scramble," Metzler explained. "So, on the sections where it's flat, you can run it. And then, on the steep and technical sections, it's just a fast scramble."
"OK. Now what about coming down?"
"Um, coming down, I've done it so many hundreds of times that I have a route that I take down, and I've kind of memorized every rock on that route. So, if there's erosion that takes place and a rock has moved, I know. I know it's been moved on my route, so that's gonna change my route a little bit. ... I can get down in under 10 minutes.
It's 1.1 steep miles up Camelback Mountain. Metzler says he can do the round trip in less than 30 minutes.
For many, reaching the top is a goal. But for others, hiking the mountains becomes a life-changer.
"Somebody my age, I'm going to be 74 in July, and if I didn't hike all the time, I don't think I would have the quality of life that I have," Sandy Kloch said.
It's never been about speed for this grandma.
"How often do you climb it?" Sewell asked
"Well, for a while there, I was doing it every day, but then with the grandchildren, and getting them back and forth to school and everything, so I'm just here about five days a week."
"I know, but five days a week or every day, that's quite a bit!"
"The people are the favorite part. the mountain it just an art gallery for me, everywhere I look, there's beauty. ... Even when you come up here in the clouds and the rain, or sometimes it looks like a muddy river coming down the thing. Any condition I've been here in, I've always felt so blessed to be able to go."
"Has it gotten tougher over the years?" Sewell asked.
"Well, age-wise, I don't go as fast as I used to. ... As long as I get to the top, it doesn't matter. You know, that's my thing."
"Camelback Mountain has two major trails," Mark Sirota of Phoenix Parks and Recreation said. "The one is called Echo Canyon; the other is Cholla."
"As a person starts up the [Echo Canyon] trail, it's a very difficult trail. It's a double black diamond," he continued. "As they go up, there's three different challenges -- handrails, handrails, and big boulders. On the boulders, you can be on your hands scampering, trying to get to the top."
While not as steep, the Cholla Trail has challenges of its own.
"On the other side, the Cholla, it's more gradual," Sirota explained. "It's full sun; there isn't any shade. So, it's very difficult in the summer."
It doesn't quite have the landmark status of Camelback Mountain, but another popular hiking spot is Piestewa Peak. While the length of the trail and elevation are almost identical to Camelback, the character of the mountain is completely different.
"There tend to be people who are Camelback people, and there are people who are Piestewa people, and they'll defend their mountain to the death, right?" said Robert Stieve, the editor-in-chief of Arizona Highways magazine. "And technically they're both about the same distance, about the same elevation gain. Personally, I think Camelback's a little bit tougher because there's not an established trail all the way up."
"Going up Camelback, coming up through Echo Canyon, you have to do some bouldering and you have to, you know, hang onto some rails in different parts of the trail because you're on slick rock," he continued. "Piestewa has a more established, you know, actual foot path."
On either mountain, keep an eye out for the critters.
"Rattlesnakes, you know we do have a lot of rattlesnakes, and it's the time of the year when the rattlesnakes are starting to come out," Sirota said. "So. what we would ask is people pay attention to that. ... The rattlesnakes are going to want to leave you alone, ideally, as you're heading up the trail. But if you're a fast runner and you're running out on our different trails, be aware that they could be crossing the trail. They're gonna hear the pounding of the feet; they're gonna want to get away from you."
But not all potential hazards are on the ground.
"The bees are all Africanized here in our state of Arizona," Sirota explained. "So, normally what a bee's gonna do, is they're gonna give you a little bump. If you feel a bee bump into you, that's their warning. We do list on a map where the beehives are, however, bees do move. "They can travel a mile and a half for water. There are drinking fountains below us; they often come and drink. ... We also have some hidden little water sources so they'll leave that area alone."
[WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Bee safety 101]
But the biggest danger is not rattlesnakes or bees. By far the biggest trouble you're likely to run into on the mountains is a fall.
The Phoenix Fire Department keeps this team trained for the mountain rescues. This determined hiker is a bit dazed after falling twice, once on the way up and again on the way down.
They're checking him out, and he is feeling strong enough to get to the bottom on his own two feet.