Walking, Crawling and Climbing the Trail of Mount Mariveles – Tarak Ridge

I had vacation in my country last October 2010 since at that time I was still employed in Singapore. But to be honest the main reason I came back in my country after around 6 months (I had vacation last May 2010 too) was to sign a job offer for my next job back home. Yes, I returned to my home country to work (other people surprised because there are lots of Filipinos dreamed to work abroad and yet I am returning to my country). And I used the climb event as a reason when I requested for approval of my vacation leave so that I can return to the country without so much effort of reasoning.

The climbed that I joined in was a training climb for all the members of the group that will climb Mount Pulag which happened the following month as preparation since they took the difficult trail of the said mountain. I was not able to join that climbed as I went back to Singapore to formally submit my resignation letter to the company I was working with.

The climb happened last October 16-17, 2010 and the mountain  was Tarak Ridge. Before my flight back home in my country I informed the group that I will be joining the climb. I missed the group because I was away in my country for almost a year. I was both excited and worried because it’s been almost a year that I wasn’t climbing. As most of us knows that there’s no really mountain in Singapore aside from Mount Faber.

The whole group that joined the climbed met in 5 Star Bus Terminal in Cubao early Saturday morning . We took the bus that goes to Mariveles Bataan. After almost 3 hours of travel from Metro Manila to Bataan, we reached our destination and we got off the bus near the jump-off area which located in Barangay Alas-asin.

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Barangay Alas-asin

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Barangay Hall Alas-asin and nearby local stores (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

When we reached the jump-off, we spent sometime in preparations (buying water, food and other essentials) and registrations in barangay hall before we started the formal trek. Then, we begun our journey to reached the base of the mountain. I remembered that the climb was still unique from the past mountains that I climbed. I cannot really compare every mountain. They are like human with distinct personality inside.

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The Group before the climb (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

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Jump-off point before the start of the climb

At the start we had a long walk in a wide grassy plains before we reached the base of the mountain. Then it followed the forest trail. After a long walk, the real climbed started. The walk and trek up to Papaya River can be considered as the easiest part of the climb.

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The pathway to reach the base of the mountain

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The pathway to reach the base of the mountain (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

Like every mountain that I climbed, we passed trails where there were rocks besides the trail. Most of the time, if I can pass the trail normally like walking while standing and does not require me to sit down it will be an easier one, I used big rocks to hold myself or sometimes I used to stepped on them.

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The Group while waiting inside the forest before reaching Papaya River (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

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The Group while waiting inside the forest before reaching Papaya River

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At the forest trail

As I remembered Papaya River, it was one of the river that is still used by people as a main source of water in the area not only for household use but for safe source of fresh water to drink. Yes, we drank the water from the river. That was why when we rested a bit for lunch near the river, we were prohibited to use dish washing or any soap detergents when we were in Papaya River.

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At the forest before Papaya River (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

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At Papaya River

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At Papaya River (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

After lunch, our lead in the group gave us a heads-up that there were no more gradual trail ahead of us. This means that the trail all the way are all steep and it’s all assault. I was a bit nervous because I really don’t know what to expect. We got our backpack again and prepare for full assault climb.

The next trail we need to pass was the trail where the only way to do was to crawl to the roots of trees strayed and branched in the ground. Trekking pole cannot be used in the trail, both hands must be free from holding anything to be able to hold tightly the big roots while trying to push ourselves upward with the help of our feet. That moment of my climbed, I felt like we were spiders as we were crawling to the roots and branches of the trees, its similar to rappelling and the difference, we were not holding on to the rocks but were holding to the tree roots that we can grab on so we can hold on of ourselves while ascending in the trail as the roots were only our support.

I thought that the trail will never end. I reached the end of the assault trail. One of my group member experienced muscle cramps and it’s a good thing that before it become painful, he still able to reach the end of the assault trail. We advised him to rest a bit and one of us gave him pain reliever. We continued our trek, we carefully passed the narrow trail until we reached the campsite which near before the summit.

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Just after the crawling trail (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

Tarak Ridge campsite is like an open area similar to Gulugod-Baboy mountain that I climbed. The summit is at the other side of the camp site. And for what I heard, the summit trail is not an easy task as well.

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Surroundings of the campsite before the summit

Like the most climbed I had, we pitched our tent so we have place to stay at the top of the mountain. Next thing happened, the group prepared for its dinner and followed by “socials” (group activity where most of the members were gathered together to talk and chat about anything) that the group always does if weather in the mountain permits us. After hours of “socials”, all of us concluded the day.

The next day, we woke up early to climbed the summit of the mountain. The good thing about it was, we don’t have our backpacks anymore. We left everything in our tent.

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On the way to the summit from the campsite (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

We started our trek to the summit. Like what I heard, the trail was not simple, though there’s some difficulty along the way, the group safely reached the summit. It was a fulfilling task. I felt it was really great to be at the peak of the mountain again.

The common hikers does when it reached the summit were the same things we did. We spent time for photo shots, individual and group pictures. At the summit area, there’s a huge rock where it is slightly hanging and some of my group went there for a great individual shot.

We came back to the campsite and started our break camp. We had the last moment of group pictures with the summit and we started descending the mountain.

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Group Picture with the summit of the mountain (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

We used the same trail when we climbed the mountain. Therefore we passed again the treacherous trail where we become a spider. And because we have backpacks it’s more challenging to go down as our bags scratching to the roots and branches in the ground. Even it was more difficult, we successfully passed the trail and reached Papaya River again. We used the place to rest a bit and refill our bottles for water. Then, we moved on and passed the grassy wide plains.

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Group Lunch (Photo Courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

After the climbed, we had lunch altogether and we had a great time going back to the city to return once again to the real life that we have.

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Abeling Tribe Outreach and Mount Tangisan Side Trip Climb 

The mountaineering group that I belong did a lot of adventures, trips and climbs. Some were in abroad but mostly were within our beloved country. This group gave me a chance to see a lot of places, unforgettable and unique experiences.

Another type of adventure that the group involved with are doing outreach activity mostly to remote places. The group does it regularly, at least twice a year for the past recent years, which gives us a chance to give back something to community.

One of the outreach activity that I got a chance to join was the event held last June 30 – July 1 2012. The group selected a school in a remote community which located in the middle of vast farmlands in Tarlac. The event held in Sitio San Pedro Elementary School, Barangay Iba in San Jose, Tarlac.

I knew it’s been a long time when it happened, it was more than 4 years had passed but I still remember a bit something about it.

In every travel that I did with the mountaineering group I belong to, I usually join them. I never really got involved in planning. Honestly when roaming around my own country, I was not really good at it. The planning of itineraries are far more difficult compared to other countries. The planning does not only involve a research, it involved communication to people, groups or even individuals.  It requires network and connections to different people.

We traveled to the designated place of outreach. From Metro Manila, we took NLEX (North Luzon Expressway), followed by SCTEX (Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway). Then we exit at Luisita Access Road.

One of the thing that I cannot forget in this event was when we were on our way to Barangay Iba. We traveled a bit in a rough road and we took some rough roads in the middle of the farm (not a typical or common concrete road). For me it was an experience because I never really been inside the vehicle in middle of the farm. Yes, I saw farms or rice fields almost all around me, but never really drove in the middle of it. After a while, we reached a small community, the Abeling Tribe one of the indigenous community in my country where the school located which we planned to visit. I was surprised because I never thought that there was such community in the middle of rice fields. Most of the time, communities are near in main roads or local roads.

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Outreach Event Photos (Photos are not mine, photos courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

Every time the group does its outreach activity, the group usually prepares before the big day. The group does ocular to see the school and the people whom we will collaborate the event. Next, we solicit to friends, colleagues and some corporations for some voluntary funds which within the network of all members of the mountaineering group. Then, all the funds we received were audited as the mountaineering group is non-profit group. Everything is transparent to all members specially when we do this kind of activity. Finally, the group prepares activities for the outreach. In the planning, it involves creation of games and entertainments for children. It will follow by  providing food and giving school supplies. We also provided equipment that the school basically needs such as speakers or generators.

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Outreach Event Photos (Photos are not mine, photos courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

With these experiences with children that lives in provinces specially in remote places and all of them usually lives in poverty, during outreach, it feels something special part in my life. Sometimes I am thinking if there’s still better way to help them aside from what we were already doing. Then, somehow there’s sadness that I felt too because children in the city lives comfortably while the children we visited lives in frugality. But, I knew as well that’s the reality of life of communities that outside the major cities in my country. And the outreach activities that we did may not really address the problem but at least it alleviates some of the gaps that the government should be doing.

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Outreach Event Photos (Photos are not mine, photos courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

The next day, the group did a side trip activity which climbing the mountain just beside the community that we visited. The mountain we climbed was Mount Tangisan with an altitude of around 490 masl (meters above sea level).

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Climb Event Photos (Photos are not mine, photos courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

What I like about this mountain? First thing  was its trail (not too difficult), next was its altitude (just enough to see views from the ground), third was its location (located in open space) and finally the scenery at the top or the summit surrounded by farmlands.

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Climb Event Photos (Photos are not mine, photos courtesy of SMB Mountaineering Group)

I really enjoyed the activities that includes both of outreach and nature adventure, I felt both alive. It is one of the contentment that I treasure in my life.

Photos that I captured while at the summit of Mount Tangisan

Beyond Our Reach : Overlooking the Other Summits and Peaks at Mt. Tangisan

Beyond Our Reach (Post#2) : Overlooking the Other Summits and Peaks at Mt. Tangisan

When climbing the mountain, one of the moment that I really appreciate whether in the trail or at the summit of the mountain is the view where you can see lots of summits or peaks from other mountains. I will be always amaze with the scenery. With that in mind, those beautiful peaks of other mountains seems to be so close yet so far and beyond my reach. But with endurance even the things we thought impossible sometimes become possible. Photo snapshot last July 2012 during the side-trip climb we had after outreach activity done by the mountaineering group in San Jose, Tarlac.

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