Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Trek to Remember

Twenty two years ago, a six-year old girl wondered why thick layers of ashes were scattered on the streets of Manila. Clueless and big-eyed, she  looked at the haze in the air and kept on inquiring about what happened. The answer was finally told - these were the effects of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

That was the only memory I had of Mount Pinatubo. Little did I know that I’d be exploring its grandeur (as one of the biggest volcanoes in the Philippines) and that I’d be building memories with it, this time not of eruption/destruction but of a different kind.

And so we decided to pursue the adventure and conquer Mount Pinatubo. Carrying our backpacks and wearing proper attires including study shoes which will survive boulders, heights, streams and ashes; we travelled all the way to Capas Tarlac.

For travellers who'd like to explore Mount Pinatubo, here’s a brief summary of a whole day itinerary.
   1.   Travel from Manila to Capas, Tarlac. – 2 hours
   2.   Sign the waiver form and attend a brief orientation before the adventure starts.
   3.   Ride a 4x4 transport for 40 minutes. Take note: It’s going to be a rough ride crossing streams and boulders with continuous sprinkles of ashes all over your body. Exciting!
   4.   Trek for 2-3 hours (depending on your capability) crossing ashes, boulders, low lying streams and some stairs to reach the crater.
   5.   Enjoy the crater from a viewing point. This is also the time to have lunch, recharge and take a lot of pictures celebrating your success. (Enjoy the fruits of your labor!)
   6.   Go back - do steps 4,3,2, and 1.

The wonderful crater of Mount Pinatubo beholds a beauty to marvel at.
It amazed me how a volcano as destructive as this can also be an attraction pleasing the eyes of onlookers. 
Oh the power of God's creation!

Sharing a video made by Jaresa Felipe of Thirty Six-O Media which features a 3-minute documentation of how our team conquered Mount Pinatubo. Click on the picture to view the video.

Click here to watch video.

Our package was pre-availed from Pinaykeypoint and for a list of the requirements and all necessary data, their site proved to be very helpful. The site also provides a detailed itinerary so if you’re planning to go on this adventure, we highly recommend that you transact with them.

The sturdy 4x4 transport which lets you experience "lahar powder" on your face as you go on a bumpy ride.

Crossing streams make you realize that roller coasters are not scary after all.

The almost three-hour trek is a challenge for the adventurers. 8 kms to go!

Boulders, together with lahar and streams, make the trek mode challenging.
Thanks to tour guides who lead us to easier trails. 

After more than 6 kilometers, you see this sign, motivating you to see which range you belong to.

When you see this rest station, you are near the crater (almost!).

 Trail foods are always helpful, so go for energy bite-sized foods.

There's a free water refill near the rest area. 


Visiting Mt. Pinatubo was an opportunity to meet the kin of the very first inhabitants of the Philippines. 
Aetas are all over the place. Greet them and share some goodies with the kids.

The precious drinks being sold near the crater - P100 each!

Once you reach the top, enjoy a hearty snack while camping and enjoy the beauty of the crater.

Camp around the crater, but don't swim.

I was used to the laidback vacation where one can relax and enjoy nature, but the Mount Pinatubo adventure is something different travel bugs should try. One has to be physically and emotionally ready for this kind of trip. And yes, no matter how arduous and tiring the adventure was, it really was the upbuilding memories to reach the top and the persons we trekked with that matter.

Twenty two years after that eruption, my mind now rarely recalls Mount Pinatubo’s destructive aftermath. Whenever the name of that giant mountain will be mentioned, it is that amazing trek that I will always remember.

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