Podcast: Play in new window | Download
The “high strangeness” at the mountainous rock outcrop known as Peña del Zumate or Cerro del Zumate began in the formal written record in 1650 with a curious tale of a shepherd that made it into the documents of the Spanish Inquisition. On June 24th of that year the man was tending his flock on the side of the mountain when he stumbled upon a cave. He walked into the cave and when he was deep inside everything started to take on a grayish color. The shepherd got turned around and lost his way inside the mountain and found himself inside an expansive valley with strange animals, such as bulls with one horn. There was also strange plant life there, including trees that bore a melon-like fruit. The light was different, and the shepherd claimed to see a city in the valley that shimmered in gold. What seemed like an hour in the mountain was actually one year. The shepherd was met by officials of the Holy Inquisition soon after telling his story to his family and neighbors. The Inquisition proclaimed him possessed by the devil and executed him. This is one of many accounts of the bizarre happenings in and around this curious rock formation.
Located between the towns of Mineral del Monte, Mineral del Chico and Omitlán in the state of Hidalgo, the Peña del Zumate rises like an out-of-place pyramid from its heavily wooded surroundings. Part of a larger mountain ridge, the area is known for its challenging hiking trails cutting through beautiful and pristine forests of tall pine trees. Here is a brief description of the place from the Hidalgo Tourism website:
“Surrounded by mountains and forests, the Peña del Zumate stands out in the landscape, a monolith that rises 3,157 meters above sea level, ideal for climbing. Rocky cliffs, boulders and bushes create the route to the top, from where you get an incredible view of the terrain, with the fields of Atotonilco on one side, the basaltic columns of the mountains on the other, and the Barranca de la Biósfera de Metztitlán at the bottom. The ascent is made through a large crack on one of its sides.”
An increasing number of hikers and campers in the past 25 years have reported many strange things around Zumate. A common sighting is what has become known now as “The Floating Woman.” An apparition of a woman appears on the hiking trails near the summit of the craggy peak hovering silently above the trail or clearing, getting the attention of those present briefly before disappearing as fast as she appeared. Another ghostly sight is not so quiet. Some people have reported seeing the spectral image of an indigenous woman who cries and begs with those whom she encounters in a long-forgotten native language. Those who have come upon this indigenous female entity get a sense that the woman is somehow lost in our time and is begging to be returned to the time she came from. This story is very similar to one from the Siete Luminarias volcanoes in the state of Guanajuato briefly touched upon in Mexico Unexplained Episode 166. https://mexicounexplained.com/the-mysterious-craters-of-valle-de-santiago/ There, too, it seemed as if an indigenous woman slipped through a time portal and desperately needed help in returning to her own time and place but just couldn’t communicate with modern people who stumbled across her.
Indeed, the “hidden portal” theme pops up many times in the strange stories connected with the Peña del Zumate. Mexican paranormal investigator Héctor Fuentes claims that every June 24th an energy field portal opens up on the side of the mountain. He is unsure whether the portal leads to other dimensions, other times, or is just a passageway to a secret underground world previously unknown to the modern world but was known and described by many of Mexico’s ancient cultures. Fuentes is quick to point out that the famous story of the lost shepherd on the slopes of Zumate took place on June 24, 1650. The researcher has also interviewed the widow of a local man who slipped through one of these portals on the side of the mountain in June. The man was from just outside the town of Huasca de Ocampo, one of the State of Hidalgo’s “Pueblos Mágicos” or “magical towns” located less than 10 miles to the northeast of Cerro del Zumate. According to Héctor Fuentes, the unsuspecting man was climbing along the sides of the mountain gathering firewood when he noticed a small fissure in the rocks that he had never seen before in all the years he had spent on the side of the mountain. The man from Huasca went into the cave for 5 or 6 minutes, but it was well over a year that he was gone in real time. According to the man’s wife, family and friends, along with an entire neighborhood went looking for the man for months but found no trace of him, not even his machete or other cutting tools. One day in the middle of the night, three small beings brought him back to the family’s humble shack. The description of the beings approximated that of the Greys, the nefarious race in UFO lore from the Zeta Reticuli star system, appearing short with skinny bodies, large heads, almond-shaped eyes, and spindly limbs. The incident occurred around the year 2004 or 2005 according to the man’s wife. He described to friends and family a fantastical world he saw inside the mountain, like what the shepherd described in the 1600s. There was an enormous cavern with its own light source that went on for miles and included its own series of mountains, streams, lakes, fields, and forests. There was also a city with a golden hue which he observed from a distance. He went on to say that he encountered strange animals and plants, as if he had traveled to another world entirely. He doesn’t remember being helped out of the cave by the three beings that eventually returned him to his humble home outside of Huasca del Ocampo. He just remembers waking up in his own bed and a year had passed. His wife, according to Héctor Fuentes in his interview, remembers the beings distinctly, and claimed that some other people living in the area had also had encounters with the Greys. It’s curious to note that the town of Huasca del Ocampo is home to El Museo de los Duendes, or “The Elf Museum,” in English, because the area has a long history of legends dating back to pre-Hispanic times of little magical beings living in the surrounding forests. The man who experienced the missing time in the fabulous world inside the mountain died just a few years after the incident. The wife who recounted the tale to Héctor Fuentes died in the year 2008.
In an episode of the online Mexican paranormal show “Insólita Experiencia” Héctor Fuentes recounted the story of yet another person who had a June 24th portal experience at Peña del Zumate. This story took place sometime in the 1800s and involved a miner who was exploring the sides of the mountain. At one point in his climb the miner saw what appeared to be a deep cave with a light coming from it. He also heard noises coming from that cave which made him think that another miner had been trapped between two fissures of rock and needed assistance. He went down into the cave and soon found himself in another world like what the lost shepherd described in 1650. He was in the middle of a large cavern that had its own light source and was home to abundant and strange plant and animal life. In this story there were ruins of a lost civilization down there but no sign of any other people besides a small being that he claimed to have helped him get out of that underground world and up to the surface where he belonged.
Sightings of the Greys seem to go hand-in-hand with UFO sightings at Zumate. Many hikers and campers in the area report seeing strange objects in the sky, from classic flying saucers to glowing orbs hovering over trails and campsites. One such incident occurred in 1999. A hearty and hale 60-year-old woman from Puebla named Elena Martínez Ramos was camping in the area with her 3 teenage grandchildren when they experienced a small earthquake right after sundown. Temblors are nothing unusual in the mountainous regions of central Mexico, so the group thought nothing of it. A few minutes after the earth stopped shaking, they heard a cacophony of sounds of animals coming from the woods. This included everything from howling wolves to yapping coyotes to birds going berserk. Martínez Ramos and her grandchildren then saw 3 metallic discs in the sky. These strange aerial craft hovered over the tree line for a few minutes before suddenly shooting off into the distance. Later in the evening the camping party woke up to the sounds of rustling in the forest at the edge of their little clearing where they had made camp. Standing a foot or two into the woods were 3 or 4 small beings.
According to some locals, the strange animals reported as living inside the mountain occasionally find themselves in the surface world. Sometime in the 1950s a strange large doglike creature with a horn on the top of its head was spotted on the outskirts of Omitlán de Juárez just a few miles to the east of Peña del Zumate. This bizarre canine creature terrorized a rural neighborhood for days and was reported as taking to an upright position before running away. Although a hunting party was formed to go after it, the creature eluded the hunters and was never seen again. Rumors of other strange animals appearing in the area pop up from time to time, but nothing quite as spectacular as this large horned doglike creature.
Skeptics accuse locals of making up legends and sightings of all things strange in order to generate interest in Peña del Zumate to draw in more tourists to help out a depressed local economy. The fact that written records exist of unusual activity in the area dating back to the mid-1600s should give the skeptics pause and perhaps suggests further investigation into this Mexican hotspot of high strangeness.
Insólita Experiencia archives (in Spanish)
Hidalgo tourism website