SaddleBrooke Super Hiker Art Priestly

Bob Simpson

Art Priestly and his wife, Carole, moved to SaddleBrooke in 1994. Having taken up hiking in 1977, Art was already a seasoned hiker when he and two other local residents soon began making annual trips to Colorado to climb high mountain peaks. By 1995, Priestly (age 63) had already bagged 27 mountains, Bob Rogers eight mountains, and Joe Young 12 peaks. That year they climbed five 14,000-foot peaks (“fourteeners”) in one week, four of them in one day!

The next year they added three more.

Over the span of at least a dozen years, Priestly wrote articles for SaddleBrooke Progress chronicling the hiking experiences of the trio which over time morphed into other groups including the “Tenacious Tucson Timberline Trekkers”, and, by 2012, the “Super Seventies Quandry Quintet of Mountainaire Mountaineers”. The goal of the latter group was achieving a Colorado fourteener in the seventh decade of life, and was the year Art, at age 79, climbed his 40th such peak.

Priestly’s articles recount many remarkable experiences with his companions, including taking photos for a young man as he read his proposal of marriage to his sweetheart on top of Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak at 14,500 feet. That day there was also a family of 12, representing three generations, ascending the mountain. On top was a man with a golf iron hitting balls a great distance in the thin air.

In 1998, three generations of the Priestly family celebrated Art’s 65th year by camping and hiking along Colorado’s Continental Divide for three days. On the last day, six of the family – representing all three generations – climbed 14,196-foot Mt. Yale (named for Yale University).

Art Priestly’s SaddleBrooke days included many local hikes such as Aravaipa Canyon in 2005 when his quartet encountered four diamondback rattlesnakes in only an hour and a half. In 2016, Art and Carole, with some reluctance, moved to Carlsbad, California, where they continue to enjoy family including great-grandchildren. In the October 2012, SaddleBrooke Progress, Art concluded his article on hiking the fourteener, Quandry, with “Epilogue and Philosophy of Life”.

“Life is living up to the beliefs, standards, and goals we set for ourselves…and knowing we can accomplish them. Once we started climbing, we had that exhilaration and confidence…”