Monday, July 16, 2007

Pico Perico

Monterrey is surrounded by numerous mountains, thereby claiming fame to being home to many adventure sports. After half a dozen of visits to Chipinque, we decided to venture into a different hiking project. It was time to explore Pico Perico...Parrot Peak, the second highest in the Cerro de Las Mitras range.

At 6:30 on a pleasant Sunday morning we kick-started our trekking. The trailhead is situated in the residential area and is guarded. Initial stretch was an easy one, rocky pavement wooded on both sides. We maintained normal pace, even though some older men overtook us. After about an hour long gait, we reached stone bed. This is where many relax and return, we relaxed but didn't return. Stone bed gives a glimpse of city below, blocking most of them with woods below.

The trail ahead is a painful one to hike. The loose scree makes the climb terribly difficult - every step you advance, you slip-down two. Its advised to maintain decent distance with the guy ahead, for the slipping stones may slide down and hurt you. We tried taking the edges, which made our life a lot easier. We struggled for about an hour or so when we were done with the screes, we rested our bottoms for a moment and proceeded.

We now were trekking inside the woods, which was a lot cooler, a lot easier than those darned slippery taluses. We walked along the rocky mountain with metal wires for aiding the altophobics. We came to the mouth of the cave, lit up our flashlights and entered. The caves were dark, cold and was composed of stalagmites. I was surprised to see numerous artistic Mexican graffiti inside the cave. There are multiple paths inside the caves, few of them ends leading nowhere, few requires extreme care. A wrong step may end you hurt down and deep in the darkness. Coming out of the cave was like a winter to summer transition within seconds. We found one cave containing water, it it was refreshing to gulp down that ice cold, sweet mountain water. All our tiredness lessened magically after freshening ourselves there..

As we passed on the mountain ridge appreciating the picturesque landscape on one side, we encountered yet another, least anticipated, scree!!! Cursing it wholeheartedly we started the painful ascent. An easy jungly ridge followed and rocky screes again. Keno assured us that it was the final one. What followed that was the most exciting part of the trek. A 10 meters vertical, class-4 rock climb aided by chain. I must confess it was not an extremely difficult one that would fetch me Guinness record or something, but it was the first time I climbed such a thing and I was overly excited about that. Rocks had many cuts and curves which eased the climb.

Some more climb, we reached a flat place which was more like a prelude to the peak. The view was spectacular. Monterrey city on one side, the white shale mountains on the other stretching till eternity.

A final class-4 climb was what we were left with. It was highly stimulating and picturesque than any part, a walk on the thin rock formation with steep falls on both sides. Rocks were cluttered with thorny cactus and other bushes. A wrong step would land you about 200 meter down without any effort and hope. We were on summit finally. For a person like me who cannot afford to hire a chopper for aerial photography, Pico Perico is an alternative option. It gives a breathtaking aerial view of the Monterrey, city on one side, white mountains (La Huasteca) on the other, its neighbours Piloto, Lobos and Apache on east and Piramide and Cuauhtemoc mountains on the west. There is enough place for a couple of tents at apex. Its cluttered with grit and gravel, shrubs and cactus. Many bugs and butterflies inhabit the place. A notebook and pen are kept inside a safe in case you get poetic by the vista.We relaxed, had our breakfast which didn't even reach our stomachs, clicked few photographs and started the descent.

As is the case, descent was scarier, tougher, more slippery, tiring and demanded much more attention and care than ascent. We slowly, like babies descending stairs, climbed down those steep rocks with the aid of hands and butts. Keno taught me an easy way to deal with those treacherous, slippery taluses. Rock skiing he calls it. Just jump over those loose gravels, try to balance and slide down, if you lose balance try to fall back, else you will roll down without much effort but with lots of blood. It worked well and saved much time. Descending along the rocks with chain aid was smooth and fast. My left knee started crying its heart out (twice ligament torn),by the time we were down. By 3:45PM the mission was accomplished, we were at the gates.

A great workout for your calf muscle, a mild adrenaline rush, dark and scary caves, rock climbing thrill, nature watch, nature or aerial photography, top of the world or walk on the clouds experience....all packaged into one...Pico Perico.


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