Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hermit's Peak

Hermit's Peak
Originally uploaded by ToOliver2

Wow. Imagine what we thought when we saw this majestic "rock" jutting out of the New Mexican landscape. It seemed to appear from no where. We'd driven this stretch hundreds of times before and never saw this formation....ever. It made us feel sheepish to know that it must have been there, every time... even though we never noticed it before. We felt we had somehow betrayed the landscape.

But moving on we were awe inspired. This mountain seemed so new, crisp, sudden. A perfect moment in the day had captured its face with sun light dancing up a storm. The sun exaggerated every nook and cranny of the canyons of what we would later find out was Hermit Mountain.

By the way, don't always trust maps. For the longest time our map made us think we were looking at Santa Fe Baldy. For the entire length it was in our view it became known to us as Santa Fe Baldy. WRONG. Maps aren't always that accurate, especially when they aren't listing ALL the possible peaks of interest in the given area. No. We were not looking at Santa Fe Baldy. It took some Internet research the following day BEFORE we realized we had been, in fact, gazing on Hermit Mountain.

Hermit Mountain was named such because it was the home of a reclusive, holy man's cave. Italian Monk, John Augustiani, settled on the summit in the 1800's. Word got out that he would trade "blessings" for food and necessities. His cave "pad" became the subject of many pilgrimages by devout New Mexicans, both before AND after his death.

These New Mexican pilgrims would climb the mountain and be greeted by him - he would work his magic, they would leave their goods and they would be on their way. Unfortunately, one day when he left the mountain he was killed by Indians. To this day, those who climb to the summit will see the cave he made and artifacts left by those who considered him their healer.

Someday I want to climb to the summit and see this for myself. Surprisingly, I found out that my Dad was there in the 1960's on one of his own pilgrimages of sorts. He knew exactly what we were talking about when we said we saw Hermit Mountain. Parents are always full of surprises. I suggest you pump yours for their stories. If their stories are as colorful as my Mom and Dad's are, it's worth every kind of prodding you can think of.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To us locals we call it Hermits Peak. My grandfather told me a story that the hermit and a man in Watrous NM were good friends and the way they would let each other know they were okay, the hermit would light a big fire at night on top of the peak. There is three ways to get to the cave. One is up the face another is the el porvenir trail and that meets up with the south trail up and the last is a trail in San Ignacio that comes up the back side of the peak.


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