Sonny… The man, the myth, the legend of Arizona’s Camelback Mountain.
Recently I celebrated the passing of yet another year on this spinning orb by treating myself to a physical challenge—Hiking to the top of Arizona’s famed Camelback Mountain. As anyone who has successfully made it to the top of Camelback will tell you, doing so is no easy feat. So it is not surprising that I was feeling pretty puffed up and pleased with myself as I worked my way up the steep, rocky incline. That is, until I met… Sonny.
Alpha Dogs come in all shapes, sizes and age groups. While we may tend to think of them as extremely wealthy titans of business or kings of cyberspace, to me, being an Alpha Dog or Super-Achiever has less to do with a person’s bank account and everything to do with their spirit. This was illustrated beautifully on the side of a mountain when I chanced upon an elderly gentleman so full of life that I shall never forget our meeting.
I first spotted Sonny up ahead of me on a particularly steep and rocky portion of Camelback, (above), that sunny morning. Shirtless and deeply tanned, Sonny’s wiry frame was my first clue that this probably wasn’t his first time scrambling up a mountain. When I finally did manage to catch up to him, we struck up a conversation. “First time tackling Camelback young fella?”… he asked, grinning brightly. Yes I replied, completely out of breath. “Good job! It’s not easy. Camelback is more of a ‘climb’ than a ‘hike’, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.” When I asked him if he had made this hike before, he told me it was his third ascent… Today!! What?!!
Suddenly, I needed to know more about this remarkable man. Well into his 8th decade, Sonny has been climbing to the summit of Camelback, elevation 2,704 ft, (he had it memorized), 3 times a day, 6 days a week, for the past 39 years!! What?! What??!! When I asked this marvel, his knees wrapped up for support, what he did on his ‘off-day’, he quickly replied; “I play tennis.” Clearly I was in the company of a very special man… A true Alpha Dog in the best sense of the term.
When I finally crested the summit, Sonny was waiting, smiling and relaxing on a rock – (yes he beat me, as he did on the way down). With my endorphins racing and elated at having conquered Camelback, I immediately asked if I could have my picture taken with this inspirational man and he warmly obliged – (above & top image).
I believe I was given a rare gift on the side of that mountain on what was the occasion of my 53rd birthday. In meeting this amazing octogenarian, I was allowed a glimpse of what the future could be like should I continue to fight the good fight, working towards better health and living with the belief that filling your mind and heart with a positive outlook can be the best medicine and key to living A Life Designed. Thank you Sonny… You my friend, are a true Alpha Dog.