Mt Arayat South Peak

MY DECENT TRANQUILITY'
MY DECENT TRANQUILITY’

It was my birthday, the sun is shining brightly and the mountains are calling me. I promised to be happy for this year’s birthday, I was. I need to celebrate my birthday with all the people I love especially with my family. So I decide to open a climb in my hometown. There is only 1 mountain available that is the dormant volcano MT ARAYAT.

Diverse South Trail of Mt Arayat

Diverse South Trail of Mt Arayat

Few days before the climb, I set a day hike with my friends coming from all my walks in life. A friend from high school, college and office came along with me to celebrate. Catching the last vibe of the summer and the heat of the sun. We found ourselves hopped in a bus to Pampanga. From Cubao to SM Pampanga will only take you an hour for Php120.00 fare / $2.68. From SM Pampanga in Mexico to Arayat Poblacion might take you 1 hour – 1 hour and 30 minutes via Public Jeepney due to various stops and delays. PUJ ride fare cost Php 30.00-40.00 / $0.90.

YELLOW TRAIL SIGN

YELLOW TRAIL SIGN

We cut the trip by visiting our house in Santa Ana Pampanga for breakfast and leaving things that are needed on our pack. After breakfast we decide to take tricycle from Santa Ana to Arayat. We are able to secure our guide for Php 500.00 and started the trek around 0900 which became pain on our butt.

Camp Site in South Peak

Camp Site in South Peak

Chey and Nhey sliding their way to the MONOLITH

Chey and Nhey sliding their way to the MONOLITH

It was hot, the humid is killing us one by one. I totally forgot that I brought newbie friend which is tremendously tired on the first hour of the trek. Trail signs are all over the place, getting a guide is not mandatory and you cannot never get lose during the day. YELLOW painted trail signs are placed on the trail path. They are useful and helpful but its a bit uncomfortable for me since Leave No Trace Policy was violated big time.

We are all this TIRED but we need to keep MOVING

We are all this TIRED but we need to keep MOVING

Two hours on the trail, the heat is wearing me off. Its burning my skin and I feel like all the sweat in my body coming out. I easily get tired if the weather is above 32 degrees Celsius. I get worried because my friends start to pant heavily. I got plenty of water for myself, securing 3 litres of water and some trail foods.

Blue Sky of Love. Up Up Up and Away

Blue Sky of Love. Up Up Up and Away

1030+ MASL. Towering Pampanga and Nueva Ecija

1030+ MASL. Towering Pampanga and Nueva Ecija

I want to laugh at myself because instead of celebrating comfortably at home I chose to walk on a boiling trail. After enduring so much with the heat, we finally arrive the FOREST area, the heat wear off but unimaginable assault comes our way. I wish I stayed at home, videoke with cold juice on my hand (I wish it was beer but I don’t actually drink).

Hard work PAYS, This VIEW killed it

Hard work PAYS, This VIEW killed it

The KAPATAGAN

The KAPATAGAN

I now believe in FOREVER. I was about to cry when we were able to hike at least 2 hours, the never-ending assault trail makes my legs weaker every step. I keep on asking Kuya (our guide) “Mga ilang oras pa Kuya papuntang summit?” (How long it takes to reach the summit Kuya?). Then Kuya will reply, “Malayo pa tayo Mam! (It’s still a long way Mam). I think I ask about hundred times. This is the most difficult day hike I ever encounter in my life. The heat, the assault and the insects are rioting inside my brain.

LUSCIOUS GREEN OF SOUTH PEAK, MT ARAYAT

LUSCIOUS GREEN OF SOUTH PEAK, MT ARAYAT

North Peak seen from the View Deck

North Peak seen from the View Deck

Arayat trail is a bit hefty. Most of the hiker we meet on the trail, Traverse from Magalang to Arayat National Park while we beat the damn South Trail furiously. My energy level is depleting plus I need to carry my friends load because the trail is most likely splitting him half. Testing my endurance and physical fitness, we need to speed up otherwise we will not be able to go down early. The fatigue we all need to take give us excruciating pain all over our body.

My SHOES SELFIE, Official Break In

My SHOES SELFIE, Official Break In

TASTE OF SUMMER PEAK

TASTE OF SUMMER PEAK

It took us 6 or 7 hours before we reached the summit, I do no longer mind the time. All I want to do is reach the top and finish the damn hike. The South Peak serve it well. The Kapatagan (Plateau) is really fascinating from the top. I fell in love with it and I don’t think I will do it again without proper training. He He.

My co-wanderlust friend Nhey. Since 2004

My co-wanderlust friend Nhey. Since 2004

My friend even brought a cake to celebrate my 26th birthday at the top of Mt Arayat. After taking all the selfie I deserve, we decide to descend. Around 1600, we started trekking down. We are actually fast, then the darkness cast into the forest. Good thing someone brought a headlamp and cp led lights are very useful.

My Dreamy Face on my BIRTHDAY

My Dreamy Face on my BIRTHDAY

Two hours into the dark trail, it became 3 hours and we are still walking down. Most of them chugged down their trail water upon ascending. The remaining water in my bottle, I need to give it out to my friend otherwise he might faint due to dehydration. So imagine trekking down against humidity of summer for 4 hours without water. It was a combination of heaven and hell. The last hour of the trek makes me want to puke but I forgot I haven’t drink for a while now. The forest is like a loop and maze which doesn’t have an ending. It seems like we are lost but we have our guide leading the trail-way. After 3 hours, we are able to reach the grass trail, I thought this will be over. But I guess I need to suffer more.

We to shout HURRAY for this beautiful summit

We to shout HURRAY for this beautiful summit

My friend Chey on her signature post. This blondie is a real ass kicker when it comes to assault. Never Underestimate

My friend Chey on her signature post. This blondie is a real ass kicker when it comes to assault. Never Underestimate

I timed our trek down, we only stop at least 4 times on the way down for about 3-5 minutes. We are going down relentlessly for the last 3 hours and it seems like the finish line is still distance away. Killing time it is. Reaching the star-studded night sky line from the grass trail gave us nothing but FALSE HOPE. 30 minutes passed and we are already numb. My body is on auto-pilot mode. I think all the endurance I have were totally snatched from me because of this hike. I was not prepared, the blogs I read underestimate this mountain or I was just weak. All I want is to drink water!!

On my happiest

On my happiest

We are actually talking about water while going down, on how we should save water and never consume more than what we need. I will appreciate the endless grass trail if only my friend is not fretting all the time. I want him to go down immediately. He did not enjoy the hike as much as the others like it. It makes me sad though that he don’t like climbing. Most of the people I knew who join me, love being on the top and they were too happy to join me with my next climb. I guess this climb went pretty bad for him. Nevertheless, if you did not stop and tried to continue with your life. The next thing you will know is that your there because you move forward.

I need to crawl my way back to View Deck after getting all the pictures I wanted

I need to crawl my way back to View Deck after getting all the pictures I wanted

North Peak seen from the View Deck

North Peak seen from the View Deck

It took us 10.5 hours to hike this mountain. The homey mountain is really treacherous to me. It was a darn tiring day for me to celebrate life and coming to new age. I am happy to break the sad birthdays I had. For the past several years, I mostly celebrate at home. I want to make my birthdays to come to be this adventurous and outstanding. I want to remember all of my birthday and I am sure deserve to be glorious for this day.

View Deck The Majetice Scene of South Peak

View Deck The Majetice Scene of South Peak

You dont want missed capturing this scene

You dont want missed capturing this scene

Lesson learned from the trails of Mt Arayat, be prepared more than ever. To celebrate birthdays is to cheers with life. I must continue to seek all the things this life can bring regardless of tragedies. Amidst all negative vibes, I learned to continue again with life WITH OR WITHOUT YOU.

Birthday is a SUCCESS and I will continue to climb for as long as I can

Birthday is a SUCCESS and I will continue to climb for as long as I can

Source: Personal Photos Jerleen Custodio Copyright

Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.

 

Philippine Bridges Collection

“To cross each of this structure is one step ahead to the finish line.”

I am not really sure with the name of the bridge. I label them as much as I can. Lovely path to wonderland though. They fascinate me. I am in awe most of the time.

Bomok-Od Falls Bridge in Sagada Mountain Province
Bomok-Od Falls Bridge in Sagada Mountain Province
Hanging Bridge to Mt Pulag in Kabayan Benguet
Hanging Bridge to Mt Pulag in Kabayan Benguet
Monkey Bringe in Mt Manalmon Trail in San Miguel Bulacan
Monkey Bridge in Mt Manalmon Trail in San Miguel Bulacan
Mt Ayaas Foot Bridge in Rodiguez Rizal
Mt Ayaas Foot Bridge in Rodiguez Rizal
Old Bamboo Brige in Mt Manalmon Trail in Maragondon Cavite
Old Bamboo Bridge in Mt Manalmon Trail in Maragondon Cavite
Patapat Via Duct in Pagudpud Ilocos Norte
Patapat Via Duct in Pagudpud Ilocos Norte
The Steel Bridge to Daranak Falls in Tanay Rizal
The Steel Bridge to Daranak Falls in Tanay Rizal
Wawa Dam View Deck Bridge in Rodriguez Rizal
Wawa Dam View Deck Bridge in Rodriguez Rizal
Wood Bridge in Picnic Grove Tagaytay City
Wood Bridge in Picnic Grove Tagaytay City

Source: Personal Photos

Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.

Mt Daguldol: Breaking Free

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Hibernating from mountain climbing was the most regretful decision I made in my traveling career. I got killed by my fear of going out of the sun because the rainy season is coming. After deliberating so much time, questioning if I will continue to embark the journey to the woods and summit. I decided to go back to the trails again. January 2015, after not hiking for more than 8 months. I put up a camp and hike itinerary for a bunch of newbies. then, we set foot in Mount Daguldol.
Resting before the ASSAULT
Resting before the ASSAULT
the hot road
We went aboard on a bus going to Lipa City, Batangas. The day before the set, I was able to fixed all the camping equipments we needed from the people who supported the hike. It was a beautiful day, the sun rise in full bloom. We are ready to conquer the day, full of smiles.
From here, we need to troll up for 5-10 minutes before the REAL JUMP OFF
From here, we need to troll up for 5-10 minutes before the REAL JUMP OFF
Reaching Lipa City, we rent a jeepney that will take us to Barangay Hugom. We registered and have our teenage guide (mandatory before climbing Daguldul) arranged. Registration cost Php 35.00 / $0.77 and the guide fee is Php400.00 / $9.00. For a group of 11, 1 guide was enough for all of us.
The real adventure start when the you reach the less traveled road.
The real adventure start when the you reach the less traveled road.
Due to the recent change, resorts managements do no longer permit hikers to use the beach front trail as it is bother their guests so we need to trek the hard way. The ground trail is now polish by pavement. The heat of the afternoon sun is killing all of us. Drenched in sweat after a 10 minute-walk, we reach the real mountain jump off in no time.
From left to right. Me, Rona and Gel. When you reach this sign, your 1/8 there.
From left to right. Me, Rona and Gel. When you reach this sign, your 1/8 there.
A Love to Shed. Take 10 Please!!
A Love to Shed. Take 10 Please!!
The trail is no longer as diverse as expected but is still challenging path to walk on. The mountain land is being change over to hotel and resort infrastructures which added ill to the view. It was not a wise transformation as it kills the environment.
The ENDLESS greenery trail.
The ENDLESS greenery trail.
I cannot move. EXHAUSTION ALERT!
I cannot move. EXHAUSTION ALERT!
The trail is endless, woods, grass, boulder rocks and muddy trails is all over Daguldol. We are all tired and weary because we all came from work. No sleep, restless and hungry. We reached Tatay’s place (I forgot his name).
WELCOME HIKERS!
WELCOME HIKERS!
CHILLIN' LIKE A ROCKSTAR
CHILLIN’ LIKE A ROCKSTAR
Fresh buko juice and snack time for the rest of us. The afternoon sun is setting down and we are still half way to the camp site. Some of the trail members were too tired so they pay local kids to port their bags to the campsite.
RESUME TREK. We think were almost there after the TAKE 30 in Tatay's place.
RESUME TREK. We think were almost there after the TAKE 30 in Tatay’s place.
An hour before reaching the camp site the wind change and the sky formed its dark clouds. We are duly delay from our itinerary, it was dark and the rain starts to fall from our head. The trail went muddy and wet.
Rona is still smiling here. Still trekking up.
Rona is still smiling here. Still trekking up.
We are in the assault part of the trail, its raining cats and dog, the pro hiker are in the tail part of the trail and the newbies are in the camp site with guide. When we reach the camp site, everyone is drenched and cold. We immediately set our tents and camp under the furious thunder storm. The rain did not stop the entire night time.
The
The “WET AND COLD” camp.
Happy thoughts. Thurder-storms in the mountain. NAHHH!!
Happy thoughts. Thurder-storms in the mountain. NAHHH!!
Most of us cleaned up and tried to stay dry the entire duration of the rain. After sheltering on our little flysheet supposed to be ground sheet, we manage the night and moved to dinner. Some did not eat because it was too cold. I was freezing. I cannot feel my feet and hands due to long exposure to the rain. I can feel my back and neck tightening.
Early morning
Early morning “INTO THE SUMMIT” shenanigans.
AT LAST! WE DOCKED INTO THE SUMMIT. NO CLEARING THOUGH. STILL HEAVENLY FEELING!!
AT LAST! WE DOCKED INTO THE SUMMIT. NO CLEARING THOUGH. STILL HEAVENLY FEELING!!
My clothes are wet and even though I changed several times I can still feel the rain water seeping through my clothes. Investing on high-end hiking gear will actually save your life in this type of worst weather scenario. Lights out, it went dark and again COLD.
YOU NEED TO FULFILL THE DREAM. NO RAINBOWS, YET, WE HAVE STRENGTH.
YOU NEED TO FULFILL THE DREAM. NO RAINBOWS, YET, WE HAVE STRENGTH.
My photo op!!
My photo op!!
I woke up feeling numb from the pain of the past night. The thunder-storm had passed, another day to finish what we’ve left. We reached the summit in 10 minutes from the camp site. It was vast, cold and there is no clearing to sight the view we all googled. Anyway, it was worth all those hard driven experience. After taking all those photo ops.
I am a WHITE HORSE in this game. Nyahhhh!
I am a WHITE HORSE in this game. Nyahhhh!
We decide to go trek down, back to the jump off. Since all our things are wet, we were unable to cooked our breakfast and decide to go down instead. The trail is all wet and muddy. I can feel the mud water in my feet. My shoes were harassed by the path we are walking through. My bag is heavier than yesterday because water is through the tent and things I brought up.
Going down with dirt and mud.
Going down with dirt and mud.
Why so serious?
Why so serious?
Double the difficulty and heavy equipment on my shoulder. 2 hours of sleep, I want to closed my eyes and passed. I am doubting myself, I am not strong. I am just brave. But, nevertheless I need to keep on pushing until our final destination.
I advise use a hiking shoes. Sometimes, forget the swag. MUD TRACKS!
I advise use a hiking shoes. Sometimes, forget the swag. MUD TRACKS!
We're still CHEERFUL. Perks of being a CRAZY ADVENTURE SEEKER!
We’re still CHEERFUL. Perks of being a CRAZY ADVENTURE SEEKER! Except Gel.
We reach Tatay’s place, food is served and we all dive in to the glorious fried egg with margarine. We are all tired of the happenings last night. Weary and dread we went down still manage to conquer the severe pain on my back. Once again, I survive another hike.
Laiya Beach Rock Formations. Wonderful sight.
Laiya Beach Rock Formations. Wonderful sight.
The SELFIE KING won the best photo ops in the beach.
The SELFIE KING won the best photo ops in the beach.
I drink all the carbonated drinks by body could swallow and puff all those cigarettes my lungs can take. We rent a small cottage, beach front and cooked our lunch before going home. Clean up all the mess, dried all the wet clothes and equipment. We play Frisbee, sing on a videoke and take a deep into the ice-cold sea water. I was relax and happy that all of us was able to make it through the night. I was fulfilled that everyone are happy to be part of. We are successful in climbing Mt Daguldol.
Q. The Beach Life.
Q. The Beach Life.
Khoi. Tough Walk.
Khoi. Tough Walk.
I unlocked another achievement. Fighting the fear to go back to the mountains, I was able to complete an itinerary that serves as an actual guide and beat myself from the body limitations I assume I would never ever fight.
After the HUNGER GAMES.
After the HUNGER GAMES.
Finally, I was able to bring someone I truly love and share what my world means. At this point of time, we manage to hike several mountains and formed our own group. It was not a happy ending for us but it will be a HAPPY TRAIL ENDING.
THE FIRST TIME.
THE FIRST TIME.
Sample Itinerary:
Day 1
0600 ETD Lipa via Bus (You can take the Cubao or Buendia Bus whichever is near from your house. We took Araneta Center Terminal)
0830 At Lipa, rent a jeepney to Barangay Hugom (Lipa to Barangay Hugom is a 2 hour ride)
Option 2: For Small Group,Solo or Dual Hikers
From Bus Drop Off in Front of Jolibee, ride a jeepnet to SM Lipa then take Jeep to San Juan. From San Juan take a tricycle to Barangay Hugom (It will be a journey)
1130 ETA Brgy. Hugom Outpost. Register and arrange for guide.
1300 Start Trek – Pavement road from Barangay Outpost or ride a jeepney or tricycle
1530 ETA Mang Lizardo’s place
1730 ETA Niyugan Campsite, Set Camp (We set our camp around 1900 due to heavy rain, slow-mo effect)
1900 Dinner / Socials (Nope, we did not eat on time!)
Day 2
0600 Wake up call (Chilly morning)
0620 Start Trek going to summit
0640 ETA summit
0800 ETD from summit
0830 Breakfast (We did ot eat)
0930 Break Camp
1000 Start Descent
1100 Back at Mang Lizardo’s place (We ate)
1200 Resume descent
1400 ETA Laiya Beach. (Rented a cottage for Php 500.00 with a long table: No Entrace once you rented the cottage)
1700 ETA SM Lipa. Took the Bus to Manila
1900 ETA Manila
Things to Bring
•A good pair of trekking shoes or rubber shoes
•Sun and Rain Protection (Sun Block, RAIN COAT / PONCHO, shades, cap etc..)
•Water or re hydration fluids(prescribed is 3L)
•Extra clothes and clothes for swimming
•Slippers
•Toiletries
•Personal Medications
•Packed lunch
•Snacks (Trail Food)
•Headlamp/ Flashlight
•Extra plastic
•Camera
•Mess Kit
Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.
Images Souce From: Gel Conopio and Herdy Marzan (Yapak Mountaineers)

Mt Batulao Fun Hike

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Chill hike and camping. As a newbie in hiking and camping we need to go to minor yet mainstream mountains. This time we trail up to the infamous Mt Batulao in Nasugbu, Batulao. Many novice mountaineer hike this mountain due to its pristine beauty and easy access from Metro Manila. It will take you 2-3 hours travel from the capital. It was dawn of February when we decide to team up and go to Mt. Batulao. Traveling with fellow mountaineers, limited fund and a personal guide with us. It was 900H when we arrive in Evercrest Golf Course, at the back lies the jump off to Evercrest. The morning sun is high but since it still in cold months, the breeze of the air is still cold.
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We ride tricycle going to the jump off where little kids are bombarding us to be their guide. Since we got our mate who actually climb Batulao for the nth time we did not need one to hike up. The heat is tolerable, at the start all of us fell in love with the beauty. It is a 360 degree of scenic view of Batangas shore and land. Everything seems to be so pretty. We reach the fork, rest a little bit and carry on to the Old trail to the New Trail. We met lots of day hikers when we are proceeding to the old trail camp site.

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We took our time going up since we are early on our itinerary and it was just too beautiful to leave soon. When we reach the Old Trail Camp site, we register and rest for a while. The real deal started when we trek up to the summit. Series of assaults and downhill trail is really eating our energy. Good things it’s not hot, I cannot imagine going here during the summer months because it will kill you. It was a grassland trail, limited trees and lots of Talahib (wild grass) every where. We reached the 60 degrees assault which you need to use rope, it looks difficult but actually it was just the angle of the picture. It was steep, it will be very hard during the rainy season to go to this path.
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We reach the summit, it was a dry, rocky and sandy summit. The view is beautiful, the wind is just smooth and full clearing of the afternoon. We can see the lush vegetation nearby with Kaingin site (burning of woods for coal) but it is still pretty. We are not tired and sloppy unlike with other mountains we tried. We are full of energy this time even though the trail is not that easy. My bag is full packed with things and group load this time but I manage to go way up without gasping for air or back-killing pain. It went smooth.
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Going down to the New Trail Camp site is actually challenging. Too many slopes to conquer, face the wall and ropes again to add up our adventure. I get tired and weary. No sleep for more than 24 hours, hungry and thirsty. We finally reached the camp site. We are the only people to camp. It was Friday though, many people hike Batulao during weekends. It is also timely because it was the New Trail 7th anniversary and there will be party during the weekends. The land lord and trail master of the New Trail, Tatay Xerxes, accommodate us very warm. Even though, he doesn’t seem to talk that much. Reminding us that we can wake him up if we want something in his sari-sari store (convenient store in the mountain, business e).
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After setting up our camp with 2 tents for the 6 of us. We don’t have things yet available at this time (we have now, thought!! Yay!!). Dinner was serve and the comedic socials begins. In the middle of the night, we decide to go to the other side where another campers are ducked in. Cold air “Amihan” is freezing us, the sky line is pretty with millions of stars in the sky. The city lights below are twinkling in the dark. It was a pretty sight, as we call it a day. We trek down to our camp to be horrified that our camp was ransacked by a dog. Eating the cooked chicken which is supposed to be for midnight snack. Oh what a waste. Anyway, we learn that we should never leave things when going out.
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Light out and I am doze again to dream land. I woke up very late, breakfast ready by my co-hikers and we break our camp. It was very hard to leave because we are now watching day hikers and campers trek their way up while we trek our way down. I want to stay here but I need to go to work later this evening. We reached the fork and stayed there for an hour or so. We have cold soft drinks and Halo-Halo to cool down the morning heat. After which we decide to go down, walk our way up to Evercrest entrance. We head back to Manila after wash up. Another successful climb for me. It was a fine day.

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Budget:

Php 700-900.00 for 6 pax

Shaw Blvd to Coastal Mall: Fare Php 40.00
Coastal Mall to Evercrest: Fare 120
Evercrest to Jump Off Tricycle: Fare Php 250.00
Registration (Old Trail): Php 20.00
Overnight fee (New Trail):  Php 30.00
Another Registration as of March 2015: Php 10.00
Tour Guide:  Php 300.00
Food Allowance:  Php 1500

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Sample IT:

Old Trail to New Trail:

0700 ETD Coastal Mall bus terminal to Nasugbu, Batangas
01015 Arrival at Evercrest
1030 Start trek
1145 Arrival at Fork. Take the left.
1200 Camp 1. Register
1400 Camp 8, commence final assault
1600 Summit
1700 ETA New Trail Campsite  / Set up Camp
1900 Dinner/Socials
1200 Lights Out
0700 Start descent via New Trail
0800 ETA Fork.
0930 Back at Evercrest.
1030 ETD Evercrest
1200 ETA Manila

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Things to Bring:

1.5 to 2 L of Water or rehydration fluids
Group Water 2 liters
Hiking or trekking shoes
Sun protection and Rain Protection (hats, sun block, headgear, sunglasses)
Hiking gloves (optional but recommended)
Food (Snack and Lunch)
Personal Medications
Camera
Mess Kit
Extra Plastic
Head lamp

Essentials:

Burner
Swiss Knife
Tents
Lamp/Flashlight
Butane
Cook Set
Spatula
Dish Washer
Trash Bag
Medical Kit

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Till our next G!!

Jei February 5 and 6, 2015

Photo Credits: Gel and Me

To the Parrot’s Beak: Mt Pico De Loro

The MONOLITH
Drain with my every day life. After putting so much fear in my life, I decide that I want to break free from being the simple, book-worm and couch potato gal to become an utmost adventure geek. I never imagine to find so much love and passion to mountain climbing. I was over weight before, I was lazy and a massive alcohol drinker. Now I will climb my 5th mountain which is Mt. Palay Palay or Pico de Loro. One of the mainstreams mountain in the Philippines. Located in Ternate, Cavite. It is about 2 hours away from the Manila so many hiker are attracted to visit the summit.
NEW TRAIL
OLD TRAIL
OLD TRAIL
It was a fine day in Manila when we left. The traffic is not heavy from Shaw Boulevard going to Coastal to ride the bus to Ternate. From Coastal Mall terminal to Ternate terminal, we took tricycle going to the DENR jump-off. Then the confusion started, arriving to the jump off. Rumors is the old trail will be closed soon and municipal people are starting to barricade the old trail due to registration dispute. Before there are two registration point. One from the DENR (Department of Environment and National Resources) from the government and from a private collector which is the land lord of the old trail.
Hiking Mates
Hiking Mates
From the jump off we were bothered by several locals, we want to trek down the old trail going to the summit but we were discourage due to the pending closure of the trail. But we insist on having the old trail instead of using the New Trail. Despite the whole rigmarole of decisions in which way we finally started the trek. This is an overnight camping trip which was decided within 24 hours. I was tired and exhausted from work. I need to create our itinerary and budget. The night before we leave, I am very tired and wanted to cancel the trip. But still decide on going.
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Trekking down the old trail.

From the old trail jump off going to the next registration site we saw a rattle snake in white and black color. The vegetation is still good although the trail looks very used. We saw several groups going down form a day hike. Spreading news that there is wall construction on their way down which make us very hopeful. The hesitation we got is released so take a rest in the camp for while. We started trekking, to our horrors the closure of the old trail is inevitable. We saw policemen and workers starting to put barb wires and we need to talk to them for us to passed by. They told us to share the news to other people who the old trail was closed. I think we are the last group who was able to trek the trail. It was farewell and good-bye for the old trail.

Little Bamboo Forest going to the camp site.

As we continue, I can ear the water from the falls but we don’t have time to go there since it is not part of the IT. We arrive the 2 hour-assault, my back hurt, I did not sleep, tired, weary and hungry. My beast mode was long gone. I was palpitating real hard. Too much coffee and carbonated drinks. My thoughts are dreadful but I need to survive this hike otherwise I will not climb again. After the series of uphill climb, we manage to reach the camp. The sun is about to set on the west, the wind is harsh. It is windy in Pico during the afternoon till night-time. We left our bags in the campsite and trek to the summit.
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The wind cause a trouble on the way up to the summit. Edges and sandy all over the 60 degree slope. It was hard to climb because of the sand whirling together with the wind but we are able to reach the top. The deafening sound of the wind is nothing compare to the sight I am seeing. It was beautiful upon reach.

Girls and mountains.

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Scene in the Tower. Just Glorious.

Then, the famous MONOLITH stand on her grandeur in the middle of the forest, sea and clouds. It was wonderful. After getting all the picture we need, we head to the monolith top to experience, rock climbing. With ropes and other paraphernalia.
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Shoe selfie!!

I got scratches on my elbows but still I cannot feel the pain because the sight is just wonderful. We a took time to explore the monolith and when we are satisfied we head back to the campsite to set our own camp.

Emote sa LITH.

The way up. Looks can be deceiving. LOL!

At the camp, due to my negligence. I forgot to bring the tent we need which is really frustrating. Imagine 6 persons sharing 1 tent with a capacity of 4 persons. HURRAY!! Good thing I bring my own sleeping bag otherwise I might get cold. The wind is blowing relentlessly, getting strong every hour. After setting up our camp, dinner time and socials started. We cook our own food, we are still novice but we manage to upgrade our things one at a time. I doze off due to exhaustion. I slept outside the tent since I am the one who did not bring the tent. (T.T) It was cold, it is pinching my skin. I had 2 jackets on a sleeping bag but still the cold is harsh. I survive the night, woke up happily with all the people surrounding us!! Shocked to see that it was Saturday morning and people from the cities and nearby towns are now exploring the entire camp site. (ashamed!!!)

Setting Up the CAMP

Camping and Shelter

To trail during the week-end is highly discourage because there are lots of people hiking during this time. Actually, too many people. It was a good thing that we decide to hike on a Friday. After eating our breakfast we decide to break our camp. We trail back using the New Trail since back tracking to the Old trail is now officially prohibited. Foot traffic is all over the trail. We need to patiently wait for group of lines to be finished before taking our turn.

The NEW TRAIL

The New trail is still diverse. The vegetation is still in good condition, mossy and green. It took us 2 hours to trek down back to the jump off. We ate and washed up. Then it is time to go back to the real world.
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Expenses:
Shared expense for a group of 6 = Php 700
Solo Break Down:
Shaw to Coastal Mall : Fare Php 20.00 – 30.00
Coastal to Ternate: Fare Php 80.00 – 90.00
Ternate to DENR (Tricycle):  Php 250.00
Registration: 30.00
Second Registration (Old Trail)= Php 25.00
Food and drinks: 250
Ternate to Coastal Mall: Php 80.00 – 90.00
Coastal to Pasig City: Php 20.00 – 30.00
DENR to Terminal: Php 80.00 / Person
SOLO Budget Cost: Php 900.00 – 1000.00

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Sample Itinerary
Day 1
0700 Board bus at Coastal Mall Terminal to Ternate (P82)
01000 ETA Ternate. Rent tricycle to jump-off
1045 ETA DENR / jump-off point.
1100 Start trek
1145 ETA rest station, Basecamp 1
1300 Camp
1400 ETD to Summit
1600 ETA to Camp Site
1900 Dinner and Socials
2300 LIGHTS OUT
Day 2
0430 Breakfast
0500 Break Camp
0600 start descent to Magnetic Hill
0900 ETA jump-off point.
0930 Back at DENR; take jeepney to Ternate then take bus back to Manila
1100 ETA Manila.

At the top of MONOLITH

Photo Credits:
Gel, Rona, Sarah and Herdy (Yapak Mountaineers)
 Hike Date: February 20 and 21, 2015
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Mt Talamitam Heat

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Earn money by keeping your day job. Save money to buy all things I want. Repeat 5 times a weeks. When everything fails go to the mountains. Pure happiness and not stop action will push you to your limit. kicking that adrenaline you been longing to scream out. Oh well, it was a fine February day. After weeks of going up, up, up and away to 3 mountains which I will review soon. Me and my mountain buddies decide to spend our time off in Mt. Talamitam. New peak for novice hikers like us. This will be my 6th mountain summit and it was a blast.

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 Mt Talamitam is nestle in Nasugbu, Batangas Philippines. I will no longer elaborate since you can google it. I tell you the experience I had going to the peak of Mt. T. This particular mountain is not as famous as Mt Batulao which is located on the same town.  I got interested to this mountain due to various blogs made by other mountaineers. They mentioned about the political rivalry and landlords registration war. It was a little bit off limit to go to mountains who have been long boycotted by several clubs and hiking society.

 

 Out meet up location was in 7/11 Starmall, manage to leave there around 800H which is actually 2 hours late from our original itinerary. Then run all the way to Coastal Malll to catch the Nasugbu bus. We reach Nasugbu around  1100H due to heavy traffic and the bus stop over to get passengers. I had no sleep but I was able to catch up along the way, it was a good long nap in the bus.

 Upon reaching the jump off, we learn that the disputes in the registration is long gone. Its been 3 years since the matter dissipates and locals are still suffering because of the occurrence. My team never made it to 83 km because the conductor doesnt know the jump off so we pass over the registration site. We made it to Sitio Bayabasan, Kuya Paul welcomes us very warmly and offer himself to be our guide. It was high noon, warm and sunny. I can see the peak of Talamitam soaring high in the sky with the heat and breeze of February afternoon.

It was hot, trekking all the way up there will make the hiking very difficult. There was no water source and we need to save up our water. Kuya Paul bring our group water which is very kind of him. He told us to swim first in the river before going up and wait for the sun to go down. After the mesmerizing bath in the river. We resume the trek around 1630H. The sun is still piercing through our skin like needles. I feel like my backpack weight became double. Sweat pouring in my face and my heart is beating relentlessly.

It was tiring to go way up when it is too hot. But as we walk our way up we gloriously dive in into a magical hill. From a not very far away land we can see the majestic Mt Batulao. The heat lost when we saw the terrain, it was just so pretty. So I take time, slow down and have multiple pictures. We reach the saddle camp site around 1800H, set our tents and ready for our group socials. We had our dinner and the usual social on how the trek. We decide on reaching the summit at dawn to watch sunrise.

Lights out. I woke up because the stray dog rummaging our stock, food and equipments. It was wrong to leave things out of tents and I learn my lesson. Ending the day very tired, I found myself sleeping safe and sound until the wind came along. Since the camp site doesn’t have trees, the wind almost destroyed our tents. We surpassed the wind but I did not surpass sleepiness. I did not wake up on time and did not join the group to reach the summit. After we break the camp, I decide that I want to  reach the summit. Alone, I find my way up in the summit. It was my first time to trek alone, I was afraid in the beginning but when I reached the top. It was nothing but awesome view and endless happiness. It was a great journey, great day and great love.

On our way back, we swim again in the river. Free fall in its little cliff. It was a lovely day to end. We went back to Kuya Paul’s store, ate and refresh before heading back to Manila with tons of star apple and junk fruits on our packs. This climb is rated 3.

Mt. Pulag Chronicle

Dream big and aim high. I want to go to heaven without dying. I want to reach the sky without flying.
I want to feel the cold winter air without leaving the tropical warmth of my country. So I decide to join a group of mountain climbers and set my foot on my way to Benguet where the majestic Mt. Pulag is located. I was about to go to Sagada, a town where the famous rice terraces is located.
Then a friend of mine invited me to join his group traveling north of the Philippines to hike which I thought will be the same route to Sagada. But, the distance between Kabayan, Benguet and Sagada is about three hours away with the 2nd highest mountain in between. I decided joining them instead and prepare myself to the journey to the stairway to heaven.

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I prepare for the hike to Mt. Pulag by physical training. Leg workouts like running and going to the gym. The group have checklist, I make sure to get all the things I need so that I will not be a liability. As the day is near for us to leave, I feel the hesitation on going because it will be my first time to go on hiking and camping in the mountains.
I’ve been to many places but never been in the mountain because all of my trips usually includes accommodation and perks. But this time, I am alone so I need to feed myself, get my things ready, push my body to its limits and taking care of myself all the time.
The day has finally come, I set my backpack and start my way to the sky. The group met in a fast-food in Cubao, Quezon City. Gathering to brief for our venture and providing our aids on our way up. We ride the bus going to Baguio City, that trip is about 6 hours. At 4:00 o’clock in the morning, we reached Baguio City and prepare our way to Kabayan, Benguet.

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We ride the PUJ (Public Utility Jeep) going to the DENR office for the hike briefing provided by the government. On the way, we have one stop over where we ate. The weather is nice but I am chattering due to the cold weather. It is not an easy ride way up because the zigzag road will make you nauseated. We drive for 4 hours to the briefing site and the rangers camp from Baguio City.
From Manila to Baguio to Kabayan took us 10 – 12 hours which includes stop-over. It is a very tiring trip but my eyes were fed by the beautiful scene in 360 degrees. Everywhere looks so fresh and magnificent to the eyes. I took many pictures to remember this once in a lifetime journey. This is the first step we need to take before we reach the sea of clouds where the Gods belong and play (as local belief).
From rangers camp in Kabayan, Benguet. We start by preparing our things and gear up to the mountains. It is 11:00 o’clock in the morning, as we start our journey at the top. There are lots of other hikers going down, greeting us good luck and smiles. They look so tired and want to run down in order to rest but they seemingly happy on what they saw up there. My backpack is heavy, around 20kg to 30kg all weight on my shoulders and hips. At first I am excited to walk because the first 2 km trail is easy and smooth with limited upward slope. But after 1 hour trekking, this comes the challenge started.

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It is not easy to climb on a 30 – 60 degrees slope. My sweat beats the wintry weather. My breathing became harsh and hard as we ascend. We took a couple of rest period because it is tiring and we need to give way to people who are coming down since there is only one trail to walk with. This the first time I hike, I don’t know if I want to go back and stay home. My legs are weakening as we step up further, reaching camp 1. All of us are tired from the 12 hours trip. Some of us came from work and slept on the way to Kabayan.
I am uncomfortable because my bag is killing my shoulders. My lungs are out of air. My hands are trembling because of the cold. But my head is sweating profusely. I am thinking that I might pass out anytime because I feel differently. After an hour or so, we reached camp 1 where we rest and took our lunch. Under the tree, feeling the grass on my feet, the sun is shining above . The cold air pass through my jacket and under shirts, I took a nap and rest my body for few minutes.

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After the quick nap, I am energize and ready to continue the journey way up. We still have 2 hours trek for the camp site where we will sleep and rest before hitting the summit during dawn. This time the trail is more difficult and assault is now often. Every now and then, we take rest. I am amaze by the biodiversity surrounding me. I can feel the damp, wet and cold when we pass by the mossy trail. The place is green and brown, walking one foot away from a cliff. Once you trip, you’ll chase your life away. Even though, we thank heavens for not raining. It was a dry terrain, cold yet manageable, fresh air and spirit that cannot be unfolded.

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We reached camp 2 in less than 2 hours, settling our things and putting up tent for us to rest until dawn before we go to the summit and watch the sunrise. It was around 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon, I was exhausted because of the long travel and the trek. But my eyes were not starving because of the beauty I see. This is the grassland camp where short bamboo grows, the mist is very visible and the cold is creeping through my sweaty skin. After the tents were set up, I immediately took a nap to refresh my mind and body before taking dinner. I am so tired, once I had my back landed on my sleeping mat I went on a dreamless slumber.
I woke up with people chattering around me. The temperature drop and I can’t feel my freezing hands. I can now feel starvation and happy to see my friends cooking something for dinner. Dinner was served and we ate in lightning speed. After the ransacked dinner, we socialized, talked about the trip and what will happened next. It is my first time hiking and going with this guys so this is the chance for me and for them to know something about ourselves. The drinking session last and its time to hit the sack. I slept early because I want full energy for tomorrow’s event. Reaching the summit.

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In the middle of the night, I finding myself tossing and turning due to the cold that is hitting my core. It was one of the dreadful experience in my life, the temperature drop to 3 degrees according to my colleague. Not even the 7 shirts, 2 jackets and a blanket protected me on the deadly cold. This is very cold for us since our normal weather temperature is 32 – 36 degrees. I thought I will freeze to death during the battle against lower temperature. I decide to get up around 1:30 in the morning because I can no longer tolerate the cold. Some of my friends are already up because we are experiencing the same turmoil of the weather.

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All of us are up before 4:00 am and we decide on starting the assault towards the summit. We geared ourselves with flashlights, cameras, jackets and trail foods to survive the last trail to the top of the mountain. We trek for about an hour or so before reaching the summit. All the energy I consume and the effort to go all the way here was paid off by the scene my eyes and camera captured. It was a daydream picture of the world, it is one of the wonderful sight I ever seen in my entire life. The orange-yellow horizon with the sea of clouds casting the entire skyline is dream-like. I am intoxicated by the scene, it is like I am in a different universe. This beauty is worth climbing and put in your life with. I cannot compare its beauty to anything else in this world. I feel like a new-born who manage to see the light for the first time.

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When the sun rises from the east, it is a fascinating view and everything is a gallantry came from the gods. The view at the top is one of the most gorgeous landscape my eyes laid upon. The sun beams towards are cold body and frigid soul. The warmth of the sun, the breathtaking view fills our eyesight and completed our escapade perfectly. The best moment is we share the same high with all other hikers. All you can see is smiles on our faces, nobody grim about how hard it is to go up here. Everything is paid by the sea of clouds and the heaven-like picture. It is like me and the gods are only a few meters away. Walking on the same path and touching each others existence. The best of the best.

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After 2 hours of staying on the summit, we hurried down to prevent human traffic upon descending from the top. We went back to the camp site to eat and ready our packs for us to go down. Around 11:00 in the morning, we set our heighten spirit down, it is time to go home and upload those picture, share the experience and give information to other about this magnificent place to go. I will never forget this escapade, one of the greatest place to visit. Mt. Pulag Summit is truly one of the Philippines’ amazing spots to go. I feel proud that I was able to conquer and survived the Mt Pulag SAGA.

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How to get there:
From Metro Manila there are several alternatives to get to Kabayan, Benguet.
How I get in there. I was invited by a friend to be part of their club hike in Mt. Pulag.
Manila to Baguio via Bus
Victory Liner fare: Php445
Baguio to Kabayan, Benguet: Private Jeepney Roundtrip
Cost: Php6000 for 10-15 pax
2 h 8 min (81.8 km) via Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya Road and Gurel-Bokod-Kabayan-Buguias-Abatan Rd (source: google maps)
Manila to Baguio to Kabayan Benguet. Travel time: 6-8 hours.
Commuting to Ranger Station in Kabayan, Benguet from Baguio City
As I checked, there are public jeepneys and bus going to Atok and Kabayan Benguet. I am still researching the routes, fare and additional information on how to get there alone. I will update once I had details. I will be in Sagada on December 25, 2014 and I will checked when we stop over to Baguio.
Travel Agencies, touring group and Clubs
There are numerous agency and outdoor clubs holding trip to Mt. Pulag. Catering the transportation, food, mountaineering gears and stuff needed on the hike. Expense will depend on number of hikers. You can join on touring group if your going solo. You can check various package in facebook, websites and mountain climbing clubs.
Tour Package Cost: Php 2000-2800 for 4-15 pax
Manila to Kabayan Benguet via Baguio (Private Van)

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