Philippines

Hiking to the Mount Pinatubo Crater

Sometimes the city just becomes too much to handle; all the traffic, people, noise, and pollution you encounter makes the daily routine exhausting. That is why once in a while one needs to look for a change of scenery and that’s exactly what we did last Sunday as we took on the journey to Mount Pinatubo’s crater.

Mount Pinatubo is famous for its extremely violent eruption in 1991 which, dramatically changed the lives of residents in the area as well as the landscape. In recent years it has become a popular tourist destination for people who want to explore the beauty that stemmed from past destruction.

Our trip started at 3:30 A.M as we left Manila to go North, heading to the base camp of Santa Juliana in Capas Tarlac. We arrived after a quick three-hour drive. Here we had a short orientation by our tour coordinator Tripinas  and then we were off to board the 4 x 4 vehicles.

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That’s me and Arnaud with Pao and Tin, our 4 x 4 mates.

Twenty minutes into an expansive, dusty, and rocky terrain our adventurous ride came to a stop. Our driver said we had to wait for a new vehicle to pick us up since ours wasn’t fit to travel anymore. I was only a little bit nervous because I knew backup was on the way and I didn’t mind the switch because a few minutes into the start of our trip I saw the driver pick up something from the vehicle floor, which turned out to be the car key! He calmly put it back into the ignition and nobody else but me noticed because we never stopped moving. I was more amused than frightened by this actually. We all had a good laugh when I told the group. I learned it’s quite normal for problems like this to happen, as we saw a few 4 x 4’s along the way having some trouble as well.

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I was all set. I had my protection against the lahar but… we had to wait a bit before we could proceed again. 😀

 

After our new vehicle (which thankfully was a closed 4 x 4) arrived we moved on with our journey. Crossing little streams and going over uneven surfaces made the ride very bumpy and exciting. Add to that the wide expanse of land bordered along the sides with very interesting formations and you’ll never notice that ninety minutes has passed.

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After the 4 x 4 ride we proceeded to do the hike. We had a guide to keep track of us and give assistance whenever we needed it, which wasn’t often. The trail is not that difficult; although it is very rocky it is not steep. I would recommend using hiking shoes for more comfort and ease. I wore my rubber shoes and although they served me well, I think the soles are done for. We saw a lot of shoe parts along the way (and most of them a particular brand :D) and so I think it’s best if you use a reliable pair to avoid any casualties. I was referring to shoes of course. 😀

 

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Towards the tail end of the hike I really enjoyed the view. We were on a narrower, greener path, with streams dotting the trail every now and then. I was so tempted to dip my slightly tired feet into the cold water. The sound was very relaxing as well.

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Ah…the sound of the wind rustling the leaves

The last five minutes to the caldera lake were the most difficult because of  my archenemy, the stairs. The steps were uneven in size and that proved to be a bit of a challenge, but it’s nothing one can’t handle.

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After that little climb we finally got there! The view is definitely breathtaking.

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You have to go down another flight of crude stairs to get to the lakeside.

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The wind can get chilly so bring a light jacket. It will also protect you from other elements such as dust and light rain.

While taking in this view we had our delicious homemade gourmet sandwiches. We had some oat cookies along the way for energy but we needed to replenish for the hike back.

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Black forest ham and cheddar cheese sandwiches
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It was a chilly day, okay? 😀 Photo courtesy of Tripinas Facebook page

 

I was initially worried about hiking to Pinatubo because we were feeling under the weather the days prior to the trip and also, I’m not an athletic person. But upon the recommendation of friends like Dee we decided to push through (Click here to read about her Pinatubo adventure). In the end I’m glad that we did. We met new people, explored new places, got a bit of exercise, and recharged ourselves enough until we go on our next adventure.

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