Local landmark is training, charity hotspot
By Shaikah Alawadi, Marette Mendoza, Emily Murray and Ashley Paul

Camelback Mountain has worked it's magic on Sam Wagman, 72. He hikes the mountain three times a day, six days a week and shows no signs of slowing down.


Wagman’s love affair with Camelback began when the New Jersey drove through Arizona in 1970. He practiced optometry early in his career and later switched to managing four restaurants.


When he caught a glimpse of the desert scenery, he embraced retirement and moved all of his belongings to begin a new life out West.


Wagman has few family attachments. Most of his family members were killed during World War II. He and his mother – who recently passed away – were the only survivors.


“Until I'm 80, I'll be out here. Then maybe I'll stop (hiking Camelback).”

But Wagman says he is never truly alone. He has Camelback Mountain and the friends he made on the way to its summit.


“I have my Camelback family, the nice people I see almost everyday on the trail like Jack,” he said.


Wagman’s Camelback regimen began in 1975 after a friend told him about the mountain. He said he the people and the healthy, hiking lifestyle keeps bringing him back.


“I look forward to coming out here and enjoy being out here everyday,” Wagman said. “Everyday is a new and unique experience…different people and different stories.”


Now the former restaurant manager is a Camelback legend.


"One day I had a fella from Alaska tell me he'd heard about me and this mountain routine of mine in Alaska,” Wagman recalled. “He says, ‘I was wondering if I'd run into you out here.’”


When asked if he sees himself slowing down anytime soon, Sami replied with a wink and a smile.


“Until I'm 80, I'll be out here. Then maybe I'll stop.”




Ashley Paul
Sam Wagman, 72, is one of three hikers who train at Camelback Mountain. The retired restaurant manager says he hikes the mountain three times a day, six days a week.

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