Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Conquering Mount Pinatubo

I have never thought of climbing a mountain. EVER. Nase-stress na nga ako every time I think about it. I never liked trekking for three main reasons:

(1) It's tiring. Duh.
(2) Getting lost and stranded in the middle of nowhere is downright scary, which brings me to number 3...
(3) It's dangerous, most especially if the weather's unpredictable.




But I eventually gave in with the idea of trying it, even just for once... or so I thought.

We left Manila at exactly three in the morning. The ride took us three hours before reaching the jump-off point at Capas, Tarlac. Since the trail's heavily guarded by military men, we hurriedly paid the appropriate fees and boarded the 4x4 Isuzu Landcruiser. Civilian vehicles aren't allowed to enter the trail beyond 7AM. Glad we beat the deadline. Phew!

Upon entering the first few kilometers of the 4x4 trail, we were greeted by the majestic rock formations and the seemingly endless horizon of barren land. The vast arid landscape reminded me of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Naks.



Imagine young Anakin Skywalker zooming in this barren landscape with his out-of-this-world plane.

We stopped by and took photos for 10 minutes. Adventure poses of Bagets in 3...2...1!!!


Smile... though your feet are aching...


The Ascent

Our 4x4 vehicle dropped us (literally) at the starting point of the trek. We have no choice since the skyway's already damaged brought about by series of mini-landslides and rain over the past months.

The hike to the crater starts here:



The giant canal


The hike to the crater lake took us at least three hours. Good thing, the weather wasn't that hot.

One will get awed by the amazing landscape and rock formations, all of which were carved by Mother Nature during the 1991 explosion. The trail, filled with giant boulders and streams, used to be the 'canal' of lahar.


On our way to the crater


We finally arrived at the pit-stop and rested for about 10 minutes before we packed up our things again. From the pit-stop, it took us 20 minutes (or more) before reaching the crater lake.

And this signage wasn't accurate I TELL YOU!!!




Kapag 20 minutes, senior citizen na agad? 'Di ba pwedeng nagpapicture muna along the way?!


The Crater Lake

We finally arrived at the crater lake around 12 noon. The view was truly breathtaking. The three-hour hike was really worth it!

The trek made us as hungry as a lion. Lunch was served and boy, the serving was big. Parang pang-foreigner lang ang serving. We got full, thanks to our hearty (and heavy, lol) lunch.

After some photo-ops, we went down to the shore of the crater lake. The water was cold but I didn't take a dip since I forgot to bring my towel. Sucks to be me. But hey, I decided to join the others in the boat ride which cost around Php 350 per head.


Rowing the boat - more fun in the Pinatubo!

We went to the other side of the lake where the water temperature's warm. In some parts, one can even see the steam coming from the water. Amazing. Pwede ka nang kumuha ng tubig diyan pang-kape o tea. Lol jazzkeeding!

The other side of the crater lake was filled with sharp stones and pebbles. Despite that, the view from there was really beautiful. I felt like I was in Switzerland, enjoying the view of the Swiss Alps.




And of course, the infamous window shot! We did this in our Cebu trip last December. Photo by Lauren.


Survivor Pinatubo


And I also had an opportunity to have a photo with my internet dad, Dong Ho! So glad that I finally met dad! (Lol, rhyming words!)



The legendary Dong Ho!


We spent almost an hour on this side of the lake. We had fun, really. And I didn't regret  of spending an additional Php 350; it wasn't a part of my budget, but nandito na ako eh, so I should make the most out of my trip.

It made me ponder that the crater lake used to be the part of the volcano. When Mount Pinatubo erupted two decades ago, it blew a large portion of its slope, causing the height of the volcano to shrink by almost a thousand feet. I cannot fathom the tremendous force needed to spit out the huge amount of dirt, rock and soil from the volcano.

It was around 2:15 PM when we got back to the shore. Everyone had already vacated the site except for us. Before leaving the crater lake, we had our class picture taken by one of our guides.


Photo courtesy: Ada Lajara


The Quick Descent

Going down was relatively easier since you don't need to fight gravity (naks, parang superhero lang). You just have to literally go with the flow. We even had a contest! I was so happy that I made it to the top (aka tough) ten - the first ten people to finish the descent.


Top Ten!!! Photo courtesy of Marx


We finally left Capas, Tarlac at around 6 PM.

So long, Mount Pinatubo!


In Retrospect


Another view of Mount Pinatubo


I didn't have any plans of climbing a mountain this year. I even didn't write it in my travel bucket list for one reason: I am not yet ready, both physically and mentally. My dad had already climbed Mount Apo twice when he was still in college and he said that climbing isn't easy at all. It was just a spur-of-a-moment decision when I decided to join the Bagets trip last month. I think the trip was meant for me since AirPhil Express had a promo fare to MNL last December. Woohoo!

Mountain climbing had made me realized a few things: (1) once you reach the summit, you'll crave for more; (2) it's addicting and; (3) it's actually rewarding in the end. I have never climbed a mountain EVER in my entire life until last week. I thought it was tiring and is only limited to professionals. But I was wrong. I put my game face on right after I started our 3-hour hike to the crater lake.

Unlike any other mountains that I've seen from National Geographic and Discovery Channel, Mount Pinatubo has this unique landscape. Instead of trees, it is filled with sand, lahar and other majestic rock formation brought about by the cataclysmic explosion two decades ago.

One cannot really imagine that the most destructive and powerful volcanic eruption of the 20th century will, after two decades, become one of the country's most beautiful tourist destinations. Although, the present landscape of Mount Pinatubo is currently on its transitional phase. Trees and shrubs are already starting to grow along the newly formed streams and rivers and the once arid land will soon become a forest again. Hence, I highly encourage you to visit Mount Pinatubo while it lasts! Maybe in a few years, the landscape will no longer be the same.


Here's our itinerary.

0300 - ETD Manila
0430 - Breakfast at Jollibee along NLEX (Bagets and bagets!)
0630 - ETA Capas, Tarlac
0655 - Aboard 4x4 Landcruiser
0900 - ETA jump-off point for trekking
1200 - ETA Crater Lake
1500 - Descent to the jump-off point
1700 - 4x4 ride back to Capas, Tarlac
2000 - ETA Isdaan at Gerona, Tarlac. Dinner time!
2200 - ETD Gerona, Tarlac. En-route to MNL via SCTEX
0030 - ETA Home sweet home.

Some helpful tips when climbing Mount Pinatubo:

1) Thou shall not climb Pinatubo when the weather is bad. 
2) Pack light. 
3) Wear trekking shoes. Don't forget to bring your slippers or sandals just in case (I should've done this last week!) 
4) It is safe to swim in the crater lake but do not go in the middle. The current might drown you or pull you down, down, down in merry-go-'round. 
5) Bring extra shirt! 
6) Don't litter your trash everywhere! 
7) It's advisable to trek with your friends. It's a bit tiring and difficult if you do it alone. Teh, mahirap mag-emo sa Pinatubo. Baka kung ano pa ang mangyari sa 'yo!
8) Wear sunblock!!! 



Who would have thought that I would conquer a mountain this year? I got teary-eyed after seeing Pinatubo's crater lake. Sounds OA, but true. I came all the way from Davao and every cent I spent and every mile I trekked was all worth it. 

REALLY. WORTH. IT.

One thing is certain: This ain't gonna be my first and last mountain climbing experience.

There's more to come!

*Wink*

60 comments:

  1. Congrats Renz sa first mountain trek! Sayang di kita na meet dito. Hope to meet you soon :)

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    1. Thanks Elal! Dapat talaga we should meet soon! :)

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  2. Nice. Who would have thought that this explosive volcano contains a gentle alluring beauty.

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    1. Gentle... for now. Hindi naitn alam kung kelan ito ulit sasabog since it's a dormant volcano. Yikes!

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  3. Pinatubo it's also my first climb...then it went on and on... for me, the best part of every climb is the socials... done during overnight climbs...

    congrats for conquering Mt. Pinatubo... more to come!!! i'm sure you'll enjoy mountain climbing... cheers!!! :)

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    1. Wow, really? Thanks Mervin! I'm gonna climb more mountains in the near future!

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    2. ganyan din kc ako before... ayoko cya, sabi ko mahirap... pero when i get to try it... ayun, sunod sunod na... hehehe!!! i'm warning you, nakaka-adik yan! hehehe! see you sa mountain trail soon! :)

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    3. I know right! Look at Ivan (Batang Lakwatsero) now. Naadik na sa mga bundok! :))

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  4. Congrats Renz! So are you ready for the 3-day Mt. Apo climb? lolz

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    1. LOL Mark, my body and mind is ready but my wallet is not. HAHAHA! Hindi na pala sasama si Juy sa climb but I have a plan. Hope we meet soon for our Mt Apo episode.

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  5. it was nice to meet you... see you in davao hehe

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    1. Hi Melo. Kelan ka ba pupunta ng DVO? Nice meeting you rin! Hahaha Tacsiyapo!!! =)) =))

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  6. Your trek to Mt. Pinatubo seemed fun! Saka mukhang mas masarap yung lunch nyo..haha..Nice photos, by the way :)

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  7. great post and much more, great photos! Lupet lang, now ko lang nalaman na ung voice pala nakaka-cause ng soil erosion haha. Super love the way you took the angles of the photos you included in this post. Keep it up Renz.

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    1. Hi Doc Wends! Oonga eh, ngayon ko lang din yan nalaman. Thought it only exists in cartoons. IRL din pala! :) Maraming salamat!

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  8. I have trekked Mt. Pinatubo maybe about a year ago. I was also hesitant at first but when you reach the top, the view is truly rewarding. I realized there's no better time to do it but while we're young. At least I get to experience the fun. Nice pics. Ang kulit! :)

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    1. Hindi pa ba sira ang skyway nung nag trek ka last year? :)

      And yeah, tamaaaaa! Better do it talaga while I'm young pa! Hahaha, dami talaga photo-ops, marami kasi kami eh. :) Thanks KC!

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  9. the trek to the summit is tougher compared before but if you're with the PTB Bagets walang mahirap hehe. again kagulo na naman tayo hahaha

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  10. Renz, I'll content myself with reading your blog about Mountain climbing. haha.. I know I will never be able to do that! Love your photos. :) There's a group climb during holy week sa Mt. Apo, baka gusto mo sumama. Basahin ko na lang ang blog mo. hehe...

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  11. nice one.ang kulit lang nong boat color pink talaga.hehe

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  12. Renz lets do Mt. Apo next..hehehe

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  13. @Jerome - Hindi naman talaga mahirap ang trek 'pag marami kayo (at lalo na kung bagets ang kasama mo! hahaha!)

    @Lea - Oh why oh why? You should try this even just for once lang! I have a scheduled climb on Apo this March (@nathalie). :)

    @killerfillers - Oo nga eh. Pink!

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  14. Renz! we had the same realization after climbing mountain for the 1st time. I agree, sobrang ganda ng Pinatubo to think na sobrang lakas nung explosion niya. Let's climb Mt. Apo. haha!

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    1. If darating pera ko sa mga raket ko this mid Feb, I might join the mountaineers this March!

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  15. Very nice! Now I am inspired more to travel and keep up with my blog too http://www.trailsandlifestyle.blogspot.com

    Thank you! ;-)

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  16. I told you renzy... :) MOUNT PINATUBO is worthy every effort! :) and the CRATER LAKE, wow, just GLORIOUS! A sight to behold. :) Glad you made it!

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    1. Buti nalang nag running kami ni Kuya Drew, Mark and Juy a week before my climb. Wala koy pamaol after the climb! Yey!!!

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  17. Nice photos. Was this a spur-of-a-moment thing or have it planned? Arranged tour or something? Really would love to climb Pinatubo this Feb din :)

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    1. Actually, my friends invited me to join the trip last December. I was a bit hesitant kasi wala nang promo fares to Manila (I'm from DVO btw), pero ayun, nakatiyempo ako na may promo ang AirPhil, kaya book na ako agad! Weeeeee! And 30 kami, so I guess may nag arrange na talaga ng tour. The more, the merrier and cheaper. :))

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  18. galing ng mga kuha. i prticularly like the second to the last shot. i can return to this mountain again and again. like Je said, di ka talaga mapapagod pag ganyan ka kulit mga kasama mo. it was really great to finally meet my internet son. teka. legendary?! hahaha...

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    1. Wow, salamat dad! Uy, hindi pa ako sigurado sa Mount Apo this March ha! :/ Baka di pa kaya ng budget ko. And baka ako lang ang aakyat with one of my camera man kasi yung mga kasama ko, parang hindi pa ata sila confident. :)

      So glad that I finally met you na dad Dong!!! :D

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  19. i'm excited for my Pinatubo trek via Delta 5 trail this march... your first photo had me looking for its peak..

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    1. Ay oo, Delta 5 trail. Medyo mahirap yun eh. :D

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  20. Now aren't you glad you flew all the way from Davao for this?!?!?! Na-meet mo pa internet dad mo! Sayang lang wala tayong family pic huhuhu.

    Cebu naman sa March! Tapos Davao na sa April! Whooo!

    Nawawala talaga pagod basta kasama bagets... kaso pansin mo tumigil na tayo sa pagkuha ng pics after the first hour? =)) Mga pagod na.

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    1. Grabeeee perfect timing talaga yung seat sale ng AirPhil! OMG. Salamat talaga sa airphil at nakalipad ako ng MNL for this. <3. Waaaa. Cebu! Kelangan ko na talagang makahanap ng raket nito. Shet.

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  21. Thanks for paying a visit to my blog RM. At nahiya naman ako, hehe! But Im learning. I just added you as my 2nd list in my blog roll. Im not yet a member of Davao bloggers coz I dont know how to. Haha! Keep up coz you inspire me to do this stuff ;)

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  22. Ganda nung shot nyo ng Survivor Pinatubo. When I went there i overheard a foreigner saying "Pinatubo is one of the or if not the most beautiful place he's ever been to" its a stretch to say that it was the most, but somehow I wouldn't have any problem agreeing with him. Because it really is a beautiful place.

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  23. Sinabi mo pa, Marky! Ang ganda talaga ng Pinatubo!!! Worth it talaga punta ko!

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  24. Eto na yata ang pinakamaganda at completong blog na nabasa ko about Mt. Pinatubo. Kudos!!! Nice photos! NakaHDR yung iba wooot Labet!

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  25. Up close and intimate with Mt. Pinatubo! :) nice post :) thanks for sharing.

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  26. I went here last week! The three-hour hike was definitely worth it! :) No sweat (literally). Ang lamig kasi ng hangin nung umakyat kami. Haha And I agree with the signage. Nakakahiya namang 20mins lang ang senior citizens. It made us super senior citizens na. Hahahaha

    Glad you enjoyed your trip too! :)

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  27. Natatawa ako. Halo lahat ng nabasa ko puro SINUNGALING daw yung signage ng length nung trek from the "real jump-off" to crater. ☺

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  28. congratulations sa first trek. Sana isponsor ka na ng airphil sa mga mentions mo sa kanila. hahaha. See you soon

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  29. WOW!! I'M IN AWE.... everything's picturesque! i wanna go there someday.... *keeping my fingers crossed :) such a good post renzy!! :)

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    1. Thaaaaanks kissa! :D The 3 hour hike going to the crater lake was worth it!!! :D

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  30. what a great post. These are the very first pictures I've seen of a Pinatubo trek... ITS SOMETHING I WANT TO DO... now. Like you (before your first trek) something about treks scare me (like all the mud).. but seeing these shots... and reading about how you changed your mind about treks... has inspired me. Maybe, one day ako din! Pinatubo seems like a good first trek. :)

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  31. I've always wanted to visit Mt. Pinatubo for the longest time... Green water wow!

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  32. The three hr trek was all worth it. Love the view!

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  33. i hate climbing and trekking but with this view, I dont know if i could feel pain while doing the trekking. love it!

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  34. I'll be visiting Pinatubo this June! So excited already. I envy you, you have a lot of travel buddies. How much was the day tour rate for the trekking, btw?

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    1. Hey! We paid Php 1600 each. All-in na yan. Whole day trek. Kasama na ang lunch diyan. :)

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  35. Hi,

    love your pics, we're planning to visit pinatubo, can i have the contact #/contact person regarding this trip? is there an assurance na may 4x4 sa sta.juliana? Thank you!

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    1. Hello unknown! I don't have a contact number. You can contact Dong Ho of escapeislands.com because he was the one who led this trek. I won't assure you though na meron agad na available na 4x4 in Sta. Juliana. :D Hope this helps.

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  36. i wanna go there someday *.* excellent shots too :)

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  37. hi renz i enjoyed reading your blog esp the side comments (super funny). could you maybe share with me the contact persons you had going there? my friend wanted to go there on august but i read somewhere that tour resumes mid october because of the bad weather between june-aug (is it true?) which makes it dangerous to trek. plus i also want to go there when the water is torquoise in color :) which they say changes depending on the season?.. anyways i will greatly appreciate any tip. have a good one. thanks! onefourth08@yahoo.com

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  38. hi renz i enjoyed reading your blog. could you maybe share with me the contact persons you had going there? my friend wanted to go there on august but i read somewhere that tour resumes mid october because of the bad weather between june-aug (is it true?) which makes it dangerous to trek. plus i also want to go there when the water is torquoise in color :) which they say changes depending on the season?.. anyways i will greatly appreciate any tip. have a good one. thanks!

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  39. bookmarked!!, I love your web site!

    Here is my weblog - tassimo coffee maker

    ReplyDelete

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