As any of my regular readers know, I have a pretty good rule about hiking: No map, no hike.
This is a great rule to have. But it's not just the map, it's the preparation that goes along with getting the map ready, pouring over other people's trip reports, memorizing landmarks on Google Earth, and aggregating all sorts of data that can be found on the web and in books.
That's what I do, even on simple hikes. I like to be prepared and feel like I know the way, even before I step one foot on the trail.
This time, my brother-in-law was down for the weekend and had to use my computer for work the night before my hike. He was up late and I was to be up early. So I skipped my usual prepping process, knowing roughly where I was going. I would be on established trails and fire roads, and I would be within earshot of the Sunrise Highway.
I ended up going on a nice hike with Brady again, this time towards Pine Mountain, in the Laguna Mountains. I almost thought Penny Pines was our trailhead, instead of Pioneer Mail (which I kept calling Pioneer Mall), I took a wrong turn down an unsigned fire road, bushwhacked a while, only to end up on the same road I had been on, and ended up summiting the wrong peak. Something felt weird on our return trip, but I just couldn't put my finger on it.
Turns out, about a week or so later, when I finally had the time to download my track to Google Earth, I realized that I had bushwhacked to the wrong summit. It was easy to do, since neither peak had any great views and both were simply bumps on a ridgeline.
Lesson: Be prepared. Have maps and know how to read them. Be even more prepared.
Regardless, we had a nice morning hike and I will have to go back to visit there soon.