Saturday, May 23, 2015

Junipero Serro Peak, Santa Lucia Mountains, CA

May 16
Junipero Serro Peak via Santa Lucia Memorial Campground
12 miles roundtrip
~4000 ft

I spent a week as a teaching assistant helping the geology seniors at Northern Arizona University produce a geologic map of Cenozoic sedimentary rocks in the Santa Lucia Mountains. The students and myself spent long days in the field. But on Friday, I decided I needed to get up Junipero Serro before work started at 8 am. So I got up at 4 am and made the 12 mile, 4,000 ft. trek to the summit and back by 7:30 with time to get breakfast and wash up.

The trail leaves the Santa Lucia Memorial Campground and heads east towards the high peaks above. I left in the dark under cloud cover and made my way quickly up the narrow and slightly overgrown trail with my headlamp on and a small backpack with a water bottle, snacks and an extra layer.  I mostly hiked up the steep trail at a steady 3 mph. The sun lit up the skies around 5:30. By this point, the brush wasn't as high and I could see the surrounding countryside. I reached the summit by 6:10 am. The sunrise was partially blocked by low clouds but the views were still quite nice. And considering the early start, I didn't see another person the whole time, which kept the hike quiet and aesthetic. At 6:20 I began the descent. I ran the whole way down and reached the trailhead by 7:40 (about 4.5 mph).  

Looking west from the Junipero Serro Lookout 
Looking southwest from Junipero Serro Lookout 
Panorama from Lookout