Posted in backpacking, hiking, trekking

The Rogue Rebel Trekker… (my 1st mountain backpacking at Mt. Pico De Loro)

Here we go!
Here we go! Photo by JanErik Ramos.
The 1st timer and the veterans
The 1st timer and the veterans. (from left to right clockwise: Errol, JP, David, Ian, Apple, Prem, Bok, Mae, Reggie, Yael, Kent, Me, Jan, Tian, Mhai, Koko, and RJ.

In a quest to level up my stamina and endurance to prepare me for my dream marathon, I decided to go mountain trekking (or backpacking as they call it in the U.S.) with my officemates. I finished 2 Guerilla Races this year and my 1st half-marathon, walking through a mountain trail shouldn’t be that hard. I was advised to bring a lot of water for hydration, but, when I do long distance running, I usually drink water after the 10th kilometer, so I only brought a 500ml water bottle because I know that would be enough and it was. So, after the last day of the work week, we got out of the office around 7am and wasted more than 2 hours because our ride to DENR Cavite was late. So, we arrived at DENR office, rested as we wait for the others, and then off to the trails.

a long walk in the woods
a long walk in the woods (photo credit: RJ Rico)
The base trail is an easy path, best for sight seeing and a relaxing walk
The base trail is an easy path, best for sight seeing and a relaxing walk. (photo credit: RJ Rico)
For the sake of photography, this is how you pretend to be tired.
For the sake of photography, this is how you pretend to be tired. Photo by RJ Rico.

The base trail isn’t a hard trail, it’s a relaxing walk from there to the pit stop. We rested at the pit stop and listened to a seminar about the rules, the dos and don’ts while hiking and camping at the mountain. On the move again, we got mixed up with other groups, me and my officemate, RJ we’re at the back with another group. We stumbled upon some of our group who were resting and the two of us decided to go on as the others will try to catch up. At some point during the trek, RJ got exhausted and had mild cramps. We rested and we spotted the others coming, but he stayed with the others, I carried his DSLR camera, and since I still have a lot of stamina in me, I pushed through alone, following another group. There are times when I caught up with some of our group members leading the trek and then miss them again, so I followed another group since I don’t know the routes and trails. Sometimes, when the group I’m following stopped and rest, I will go on to follow another group. I even encountered a former colleague and his group already making their way down.

Glad to have avoided the pooping sensation, but if I did have it, I'll do it like this.
Glad to have avoided the pooping sensation, but if I did have it, I’ll do it like this. Photo by RJ Rico.
This could be the best pooping stance ever!
This could be the best pooping stance ever! Photo by RJ Rico.
There are times that I walk alone following other groups to the campsite. Sometimes, I catch up with the our leading group members.
There are times that I walk alone, leaving the slower group members and living up to my Rogue Rebel moniker. At times like these, I follow other groups’ route to the campsite. (photo credit: RJ Rico)

The mid part of the trail varies from hard to confusing, there are times that you have to grab on to a trees, branches, or rocks to climb up. I caught up with Koko, Ian, and Reggie, the 2nd leading batch of our group and from that point we were probably under an hour away from the camp site. By the time we reached the camp site, the best grounds were already full, we had to set up our tents near the sari-sari store and the campsite entrance/exit, and the weather wasn’t the best (I was expecting a nice sunset view, but instead a dim cast by the cloudy weather delivered a dull view of the summit).

The view of the summit, the monolith, and the groto at time we arrived at the campsite.
The view of the summit, the monolith, and the groto at time we arrived at the campsite.

By the time the last batch of our group arrived, it was already dark and there was nothing much to do, but to prepare food and rest. A side quest of this adventure was to locate and assist the hired porter. Bok hired a porter, a kid, for 1500php to carry a heavy backpack and some of the food and drinks. Since it was so dark and the porter was way behind (probably an hour or more behind the the time last batch reached the camp site), David decided to go down and search for the porter to help him. I volunteered and the two of us rushed down, met some groups of trekkers and asked if they’ve seen our porter. It was quite an experience trekking in the dark with only the lights of our headlamps guiding us, it’s kinda spooky like the movie The Blair Witch Project. We found the porter (my estimate was 1.6-2 km away from the camp site), took some of his load, and rushed back to the site. At some point, David got exhausted because of the heavy backpack and tent, we switched load and I carried the heavy backpack to the site.

I think The Flash passed by that night.
I think The Flash passed by that night. Photo by RJ Rico

Nothing much to do that night, they cooked, we ate, and some of us slept while others had a brief drinking session.

Day 2. It was a cold, foggy, rainy, Sunday morning.
Day 2. It was a cold, foggy, rainy, Sunday morning.
We had to deal with a hostage-taking situation in the early morning of day 2... kidding! that's Kent and Mhai having fun. I think this was the start of something going on between the two....
A wild robber appeared! We had to deal with a hostage-taking situation in the early morning of day 2… kidding! that’s Kent and Mhai having fun. I think this was the start of something going on between the two….

Most of us woke up early the next day, around 5am. It was foggy, cold, and raining. We explored the surroundings to check out the view and since the area is still as foggy as Silent Hill, we are limited to walking around the camp site, have some pictorials, and ate breakfast as we wait for the drizzle and fog to dissipate.

Our group photo during the foggy morning and before the climb to the summit. Photo credit: The witty guy who volunteered to take this photo.
Our group photo during the Silent Hill foggy morning and before the climb to the summit. Photo credit: The witty guy who volunteered to take this photo.

The route to the summit is shorter, but harder than the route to the campsite. The path was slippery and there are some steep climb where you have to hold on to rocks, branches, roots or whatever you can grab to pull yourself up. Near the summit is much easier, you only have to deal with dirt and grass.

After getting through the slippery, steep parts of the path, going up to the summit is easier.
After getting through the slippery, steep parts of the path, going up to the summit is easier.

And of course, reaching the top means you will be rewarded with a nice view of the mountainous region of Batangas and Cavite.

Because the view and the surroundings is so breathtaking, I had to sit down and relax. Breath the fresh air and enjoy the scenery.
Because the view and the surroundings is so breathtaking, I had to sit down and relax. Breath the fresh air and enjoy the scenery.

There’s a big rock next to the summit called ‘The Monolith.’ Six of us were tired and was satisfied with the scenery from the summit that we decided to stay, while the others went to the Monolith to do some rappelling.

The Monolith, also known as Parrot's Beak, is a tall, rock formation near the summit. Looks scary to climb especially for people with fear of heights.
The Monolith, also known as Parrot’s Beak, is a tall, rock formation near the summit. Looks scary to climb especially for people with fear of heights.
A view of the campsite from the summit.
A view of the campsite from the summit.
Another view of the campsite without the photobomber.
Another view of the campsite without the photobomber.
Panoramic view of the Monolith side.
Panoramic view of the Monolith side.

After more than an hour of relaxation, that soothing feeling, and since our friends haven’t started the rappelling yet (except for Ian who checked the rappelling gear and the environment by doing an awesome wall run down the Monolith that left viewers in awe and too bad I wan’t able to capture it on video because I wasn’t aware that he was gonna do a pants-$hitting epic move like that) because of the safety briefing, the six of us decided to go down and back to the campsite to rest.

Going down is just as fun as going up. Photo by Juanepri Tero.
Going down is just as fun as going up. Photo by Juanepri Tero.
En route to the campsite, we stopped by a significant rock formation called 'The Groto.'
En route to the campsite, we stopped by a significant rock formation called ‘The Groto.’ Photo by Christian Capapas.
The six people who didn't go rappelling and decided to go back early.
The six people who didn’t go rappelling and decided to go back early.

After their rappelling session, we packed up, and around 3pm, we started descending. It was a great experience, my 1st backpacking adventure, and my 1st overnight camping experience. It’s good that I didn’t had the sensation to dump my $hit during the 2-day adventure because I don’t wanna go digging anywhere, dump my crap, and bury it like cats do. I love the nature tripping and, being a runner, I like how my stamina and endurance adapted this kind of activity. Backpacking/Trekking is a new activity that I enjoy next to running and photography, I’m definitely joining another event like this next year, it’s good for the mind and the body.

Last group photo at the campsite before the descent.
Last group photo at the campsite before the descent.
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