Never with your hands! Moving rocks on Pico de San Pedro

When we went out on hikes, my dad used to warn me:

If you ever move a rock from the ground, don’t use your hands – use your boot instead. You could find a viper or a scorpion under it. 

Now, why on earth I would want to displace rocks as a matter of course when going on hikes is beyond me, but still, he never failed to give me a heads up.

One day, when I was 15 or so,  we decided we would hike up Pico de San Pedro, in Colmenar Viejo. Finally, you could say, given how close this big hill was to our home in Tres Cantos, both physically and mythologically. Yes – a place where Western movies had been shot, where there had once been a fire that terrorized me as I spotted the flames from my bedroom window and, no less, where my dad had done some of his training during his compulsory military service, back in the day. 

Western movie set with San Pedro in the background. Photo credit:

And so we headed up on an unusual route, skirting the mountain on the West side and then hiking straight up at some point. It is a pretty barren landscape, so we thought we could pretty much pick our own way. 

We rested for a water break on a shoulder off the main summit. It was there that my dad decided to kick a large stone….and sure enough, in its crater lied what appeared to be a dead scorpion. 

You see! He said, triunfantly. 

I nodded. 

Never with your hands!

Since then, I have been dozens of time on the Pico. Solo, in good company, rain, snow, wind and shine. And I have yet to see another scorpion.

Should I perhaps be kicking a rock or two, now that my dad is gone?

The show must go on!

In memory of José López Yepes (1946-2023)


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