PHOENIX (CNN/KNXV) - An Arizona man marked his 78th birthday in a bittersweet way.
He spent it atop his favorite mountain, a hike he's taken several times a day for nearly 40 years.
"I'm still limber. I'm still fine," said Sam Wagman, while celebrating his 78 th birthday exactly where he wanted: trekking Camelback Mountain. "So I'll call this my last climb."
Since 1975, you could find Sam hiking there three times a day, six days a week – logging close to 34,000 trips.
So it's no surprise that dozens inspired by Sam gathered to shower him with gifts and celebrate his last steps down a mountain he loves.
"I never thought it was going to be like this," said Sam. "This is exceptional -- beyond the call of duty."
Sam said he doesn't want to stop hiking Camelback, but he has to.
"My knees are hurting too much, can't climb anymore," he said. "But it's been quite a few years. It's been great."
For 38 years, Sam has spent 4 1/2 hours a day, except on Sundays, climbing up and back down the mountain.
"And you know that Sam is already out," said hike Karla Pope. "It's like, ‘I'd better go to the mountain.'"
"I get here early in the morning," he said. "In the summer, it's 4:30. And it just wakes you up; it gives you a great feeling for the rest of the day."
And he had some last words for the mountain and his friends.
"I advise everyone who can and is able to come here and climb this mountain. All my friends are here," he said.
Sam plans to keep hiking, just on flat terrain. And he encourages others to do the same.
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