Looking south toward Mount Shasta from the summit of Cerro Pedernal.
The first of December was a surprisingly warm day that proved irresistible and I had to take the family outside for the afternoon. We headed back out to Truchas Ridge, with the plan to climb to the top of one of the nearby peaks. Our destination was our “backyard peak” which we have dubbed Cerro Pedernal, after the illustrious peak of New Mexico. Many of the landmarks around Truchas Ridge have been given monikers that hearken to some of my favorite destinations in the Land of Enchantment and this certainly fits the mold.
The hike to the summit is not difficult but there is not trail and requires some rock scrambling. As far as we are concerned, this is a feature, not a bug. The kids happily scrambled up large boulder piles, howled like coyotes and sought what they thought might make the best den in each of the rocky outcroppings. They thrive on trips like this.
The day really could not have been more perfect. The ideal weather was only surpassed by the incredible vistas both during the hike up and from the summit of Cerro Pedernal. The 360 degree spectacle included every major mountain that rings the Shasta Valley, including prominent Oregon summits like Mount McLoughlin, Mount Ashland and Pilot Rock. Of course, Mount Shasta demands attention despite all the other landmarks that are visible. I have always had internal tension regarding whether I like the southern or northern views of the mountain best. The south has nice lines and the awesome crags of the Mud Creek basin. However, standing on the summit and looking at the north side of Mount Shasta, it is hard to think that this is not the most majestic of the mountain’s visages.
After tarrying on the summit for a while, we finally descended back down to Tesuque Valley. We wandered the ridge for a little while, checking out the recently fallen Quemado Tree and enjoying the lengthening shadows to the south. When we finally left, the sun was setting and alpenglow was beginning to make Mount Shasta radiate the warm, colorful glow. It was a must fulfilling end to an already glorious afternoon.