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Unroofed fitness centers

Letter from Stephen Glover

Recreation – April 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

Dear Ed:

There have been many references made over the years in Colorado Central regarding the differences between rural/mountain living and urban living. Having spent some time living both in the Phoenix area and in Nathrop, I can tell you the differences run deep. Apologies to the urban Southwest; the Arkansas Valley is a far saner place to be.

My latest surprise is this: the cultural differences extend even to hiking and climbing. Surprisingly, the variety and quality of hiking around Phoenix is excellent. In their own unique way, many of these trails and climbs compare favorably with most hikes around the Upper Arkansas Valley. But then the urban culture shows itself. Here is a portion of one hiker’s trip description of a hike in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix:

“1 hour 15 mins to top. Total trip to car and back 2 hr 45 mins. Almost too steep to get a good cardio session in as it required slowing down to use hands and feet to climb up and over large rocks. AVG 133 bpm to top. 114 roundtrip. High 166. Big calorie burn 1288. 110 gms fat.”

The climb he took is one of the most beautiful in the area. I can just picture this guy wired up with monitoring equipment. Now try to imagine that being part of a trip description up Mt. Harvard, or even Midland Hill for that matter. Too bad the challenging and interesting bouldering interfered with his “cardio session”! This may explain why, in the Phoenix area, you see so few people outside on trails and so many more indoors on treadmills, even on the finest of days. Nothing to get in the way of the cardio workout in the gym.

I guess there are some folks who approach climbs like Mt. Elbert this way, but my suspicion is that those same folks arrived from Denver or Colorado Springs for the climb. No local I’ve climbed with paid any attention to much more than their footing, the views and the weather. The monitoring equipment was a compass/ altimeter.

So my vote is for the Arkansas Valley approach to living (and hiking). Oh, and kudos for the last Colorado Central cover featuring “Christozilla.” I think the ROAR folks have raised some serious and legitimate concerns about that project. Surely Christo and his wife can find something else to drape — how about covering something that is inherently unsightly?

Yours truly,

Stephen Glover

Nathrop, Colo., and Mesa, Ariz.