Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kwentong Kaladkarin #07: Pondering in Pico de Loro

Da Where: Mt. Palay-Palay at Mataas na Gulod National Park (Mt. Pico de Loro), Maragondon, Cavite
Da When: Jan. 15-16, 2011
Da Who: me, Vin, Cy, Archie, Germaine, Ferdie, Repa, Rhia and Ice
Da Trivia: My first climb for 2011 and my first time there! :)
Da Song for the Day: ♫♪ "Hanggang dito na lang..." ♫♪

Three days after the Pico de Loro climb, I'm still musing over what has happened over the weekend. Before the year ended last year, I promised to myself that I'd aim to climb and experience new summits for 2011. this being my 25th year of existence and wanted to make it my 'exploring and discovery' year. My 2010 was as amazing as I wanted it to be but I only got to experience a new mountain, Tarak Ridge in Bataan. The rest of my 2010 hikes were repeat climbs.
Fast forward to early January, I asked Vin to schedule a climb to Mt. Pico de Loro in Maragondon, Cavite. I've heard stories of this mountain, both fascinating and cautionary. Vin has told tales of the dreaded Parrot's Beak boulder, which would require not just dexterity to reach the top but also the ability to conquer fear. At about 664 MASL, the mountain is classified as a minor climb, some even preferring to do a dayhike. But seeing that the ascent would take about 4-5 hours, I know it would be hard work. Vin has got some friends who gave up midway and decided to just camp at Alibangbang Park. On the other hand, on a clear day, he's also promised a fantastic 360' view of Cavite and Batangas upon reaching the summit. Hearing all these just made me more excited. :)

After several mishaps with the attendees (some friends had to back out due to physical ailments), nine of us finally pushed through on Saturday. I'm happy to climb with old friends; reunited with Repa, an old hikemate from our Mt. Apo climb back in 2009 (Yes, we haven't seen each other in almost 2 years. Her dreadlocks have grown so much longer!); and two newbies who gamely joined us on this New Year climb, Rhia and Ice.
We met up in Makati and waited for Kuya Emil, our trusty van driver with his 7-Eleven music. Haha! Call time was at 0830 but only started on our trip at 1000. The day didn’t start out so great as most of us had no sleep, coming off work. I, on the other hand, had no sleep and knocked back 2 frozen margaritas before packing my stuff. Hmmm, maybe that’s why I totally forgot to bring my new tent which I wanted to take on a road test. Epic fail, Mel, epic fail. Tsk.

Waiting on for all the rest and start the road trip!

We arrived at Ternate and parked at the DENR station to have a quick lunch and register. Rhia sure can cook a mean chicken adobo, complete with pineapple chunks and banana slices. Haha! :D At 1300, we lugged on our packs and made our way to the jump-off point, about 10minutes away from the DENR station.

At the DENR Station, on the Mt. Palay-Palay-Mataas na Gulod marker
The first half of the trails alternated from level path, interspersed with stretches of rocky downhill. I’m happy to see that the mountain is still abundant with flora and fauna, seeing several markers of different environmental groups’ tree-planting projects. I can also hear the birds’ tweeting along the way, giving us Mother Nature’s entertainment. :) We stopped for a quick break at the Alibangbang Park and strode on to Base Camp 1 for our second registration. The base camp is currently managed by a family and it looked clean and well-kept.

Repa, that's a spider! Aaaaarrrrggghhh! :D

The second half of the trail gets a little more difficult as it’s starting to go uphill with sometimes having to rely on tree roots as foot and hand holds. We were making pretty good time though, as our stops were limited. We made it to camp in 3.5 hours, about an hour less from our scheduled itinerary.

Mango pudding break!

Hike, hike, hike!

The sun was still up at 1630 and we were welcomed by Pico de Loro’s jutted peak and a gorgeous view of the plains of Maragondon and Nasugbu below. We started pitching our tents (Vin and mine’s were borrowed from Ice) and settled down to cook. Our dinner consisted of chicken and pork adobo (courtesy of Chef Vin), salted egg salad (courtesy of me, coz I did the slicing. Haha!), steamed eggplant and Dizon Farm’s green mango slices with San Andres Bukid Talipapa’s special bagoong. Diet be forgotten, the meal was simply delish! :D

Emote kung emote. Reaching the campsite at near-dusk.

Our sumptuous dinner: chicken and pork adobo, salted egg salad, pork and tuna sisig, steamed eggplant and green mangos with bagoong. Sarap! :D

When the dark crept in and the camp light burned brightly, out came the brandy and the pica-pica. ;D Ferdie whipped up his special Pork & Tuna Sisig. As usual, Vin took charge as the Master Tanggero and I was the assistant, handing out the iced tea as chaser. There were about 60 folks camped and they also had their own little parties going on but we had to break up the festivities early at around 2130 because the rain started pouring.

Party mode, bundok style! Oh yeah! :D

Three of the Apo Adventurers reunited - Repa, Vin and Mel!

Getting sleep was not much of an option that time when the tent we borrowed started emptying buckets of water inside the tent. Yes, inside! I don’t think it was made of waterproof material, so rainwater seeped in through the stitched linings. I ended up scooping water outside of our tent every 15 minutes, sopping up our wet stuff and trying to get sleep while sitting up. Lesson learned the hard way, never forget my tent, ever. Haha!

I'm freezing! Soaked wet from the rain from last night! Brrrrr!

We were already awake by 0600 and Vin and I were feeling feverish after a night of being wet and shivering from the cold. Good thing Germaine had an extra shirt which I borrowed. Hot coffee was just the trick to pull me out of my no-sleep stupor and shudders. At 0630, the seven of us decided to start our assault for the summit while Cy and Archie decided to stay and start cooking breakfast. It was a 15 minute trudge uphill, grabbing on to high grass and holding on to the damp earth to keep us from tumbling over.

Sige, akyat pa! Me and Vin trudging up to the summit.

Souvenir photo at the Pico de Loro peak!

Reaching Pico de Loro’s summit was amazing. We now have an unobstructed view of Nasugbu and Maragondon (Mt. Batulao waving hello at us) and the coast resorts of Caylabne and Puerto Azul. After several camera clicks, Repa, Germaine, Ferdz, Vin and I mustered the courage to continue on and attempt to scale the Parrot’s Beak boulder. It’s a naturally-formed stone tower separate from the peak and would need to be scaled with the aid of ropes. Vin has been to Pico de Loro three times himself and this time, he has decided he will take on the boulder challenge. After a wet, miserable night myself, I was ready for something exciting so I tagged along. :D

The way up was no joke. We had to manage through several huge boulders, careful in placing our steps so as not to slip off and greet with open arms the deep ravine below. There were areas where I had to sit and slip my butt slowly to get to the other side of the boulder, warily not glancing to my right and seeing the trees below me. We were so high up, I can only make them out as clumps of green. I know I just had to concentrate on getting myself up safe and not think about heights or else I'd freeze up right then and there, unable to go up or go down.

We reach the part where we need to swing ourselves up on a sliver of a rock trail with the help of a  short piece of worn rope. Ferdie went first and helped me up, holding on to the only lifeline I have, the rope. On my left is a solid wall of rock and on my right, the deep ravine beckons. At that moment, I felt the wind die down in my ears and all the blood pumping into my heart. One wrong step and I'd be swinging over the edge. I mustered all the flecks of courage I still have left and swung myself up and over to the other side of the ledge, screaming my lungs off. Haha! Landing with my two feet into a wider strip of rock was pure relief. I had to pause and catch my breath. Whew! For a split second, I saw all my happy life memories flash before my eyes. LOL! :D

Yes, that's the Parrot's Beak boulder that we need to scale. Yikes!
Germaine was right behind me, then Repa and Vin. We all clambered to the topmost part of the boulder and were buffeted by strong, chilly winds. Ice was taking photos of us from the peak where she and Rhia stayed. We stayed for a few minutes and savored the moment of having successfully scaled the boulder. That, and we were also summoning up our guts to go down the same way we went up.

Wooohoo! We made it to the top! :D

Souvenir snap on top of the boulder, taken by Sir Josh Angeles. Brrrr! Chilly!

 Being the first one up, I was also the last one to get down the rope part. I almost got rooted to the spot, unable to move from sheer nerves. Good thing Sir Josh was right behind me, lending his arm as additional support for the rope and Vin grabbing my waist on the way down so I won't have to jump.

That's me frozen from sheer nerves down the rope part. To my right is a solid wall of rock. To my left is a deep ravine. Perfect place to be caught in between in. ;D
Photo credit: Joshua Angeles

Relief and exhilaration washed over me as we hiked back to the peak where Ice and Rhia were waiting. When we got there, it was already crowded with the campers hiking to the summit late-morning. By then, the wind was blowing as gaily and as hard, almost knocking us off the steep trail down to the campsite.

A full breakast of leftover adobo and fried rice was waiting for us when we got down and we all hunkered down to eat, ravenous after our adventures at the peak. It was already around 0900 when we broke camp and prepared for our descent. We were worried that the trek down would be slippery-difficult since it rained hard last night but it looks like the trails were well-established and had good tree cover, not much slides along the way. We got to the waterfalls in 1.5 hours and rested for a bit before we started cooking lunch. We had spicy tuna, green mango ensalada and crab and corn soup for our meal, as sumptuous as any picnic. :)

The falls at Pico de Loro, not much water this time of the year.

Lunch and some shots beside the chilly pool.

Some of the guys took a dip in the falls, the water is nearly freezing.  I declined as I was already feeling a little feverish after being soaked from last night's rain. If there was one thing that got me pissed during this climb was seeing a tightly knotted plastic bag filled with several empty plastic bottles left along the river banks. Probably some lazy-as*ed people decided to take a picnic and could not muster the strength to bring down their trash that is way lighter than their thick heads. We just brought down the empty bottles with us back to Base Camp 1. Sigh. Folks who don't do their share in preserving what we have now have no right to even experience the beauty our environment can give. Anyway, enough with the ranting.

By 1530, we packed up and continued on our trek down. We were near the jumpoff point when Ice suffered a bad fall. Good thing Ferdie had bandages on hand and wrapped Ice's foot to prevent swelling. She was such a trooper, not minding the pain and still walked on after a couple minutes of rest! :)

Ferdz working on Ice's sprained ankle.

We reached the DENR station a little past 1700 and I was already racing to the bathrooms for a shower. Possibly the best bath I ever had. :D Chef Cyril cooked Spaghetti Macaroni for us while Kuya Emil brought out the San Miguel Beer Lights he brought all the way from Manila. We had dinner and toasted another successful climb. At 2000, we all piled into the van and slept the ride away from Naic to Coastal Road. A great and tiring climb plus alcohol is indeed the best sleeping pill. Hahaha!

Now what was I pondering on again? Oh, I guess just the thought of having a climb that was just good vibes all around is the perfect way to start my 'exploring year' of 2011. That, and I got to spend it with my pakner and great friends to top it off. Can't wait for the next "happy-memories-flashed-before-my-eyes" moment. Haha! 'Til then!


No comments:

Post a Comment