January 29, 2017

I Bet on Myself (Mt Damas Dayhike)

"If my knees hurt on this climb, I'm going to completely give up the hopes of being (and actual training to be) a mountaineer this year"

Last therapy session at Tokyo Healthlink Makati

This was a bet I made with myself when I joined the Mt Damas climb. It was the first climb I did after finishing my almost 2 months of therapy. I was hopeful for the result of the therapy but was not expecting much since my knees hurt even from daily activities like walking and sitting in the office. I think it was a time when I couldn't tell myself honestly that everything will be fine - and I can still aim for the summits.

I read about how Mt Damas is a small but terrible mountain. At only 685+ MASL, it was considered a major climb, with a 6/9 difficulty level, and around 10hrs of trek with various trail categories.

Feelings

I was anxious. I didn't know if I wanted my knees to hurt or not. But I did not want to test myself carelessly in an uncontrolled environment such as a mountain - it's dangerous for me and the group, and disrespectful to the mountain itself. Hence, I made sure to prepare as best as I can.

It was still dark when I opened my eyes. But the light was taking over as we moved. It was a good morning :) The light takes over every morning, is that not enough reason to say that the world is perfect?

Trek Proper

The trail started of as a wide plain, and then there was a 2 hrs of river trekking with few rock climbing. Afterwards was a continuous 1-2 hours of pure assault and sharp cogon grasses to the summit.

Wide Trail

River trekking

Roped segment

I got blisters on my feet soon after starting the trek. Afterwards I got several cuts on my hand and arms from the cogon grasses. Nearing the summit, I felt bruises on my shoulder from the pack that I was carrying. And although my knees don't hurt yet, I feel its clicking already.

"Am I losing the bet?" I thought.

For a moment, I was actually scared to lose the bet to myself. It was a sudden realization of what I wanted to accomplish at that moment.

But I still haven't lost The Bet...

I requested for a quick stop to change into my rubber shoes to relieve the pain from the blisters. I rolled up my arm sleeves to protect myself from cuts. I fixed my knee support. I gulped some water, and breathed out, "I'm still in the bet."

I was now more careful with my steps. I tried to distribute the weight of my body correctly. I used my upper body whenever possible. This is perhaps the most mindful I've been ever since I started hiking.

The summit was within sight, so I calmed my mind to avoid unnecessary fatigue from stress.

Summit and Ubod Falls

We passed by Cardiac Trail to and from the summit, but to be honest I do not remember which part is it, since I feel most part of the trail made my heart pumped fast anyway. Not that I'm complaining - I like that feeling of being so alive anyway :D

We took some photos in the summit, and headed down to a place with shade to have lunch. I was so hungry that I did not enjoy the summit that much.

Sab in the summit, Oye!

View from the summit

Tree (Reminds me of the tree on Tarak Ridge Summit)

After having lunch, we headed to Ubod Falls. The trail from here was mostly river trekking and bits of rock climbing. I had mini heart attacks whenever I slipped because I didn't want to jump forcefully and cause any strain on my lower body.

I'm still in the bet after all.

Ubod Falls is breathtaking. I remember gasping when I saw it. I was sooo amazed. I hear the rushing water from the top, and chill from the cold breeze it produced. All my senses awoken at that time.

It was beautiful.


Ubod Falls

Group shot!

Expenses

Bus from Victory Liner Cubao to Tarlac and vice versa - P404
Tryk from Camiling to Papaac - P30/head
Tryk from Papaac to Camiling - P50/head (more expensive at night)
Guide fee - P500 / 5 headcount
Registration fee - P20

Hiking Notes

Wear thin arm sleeves during summer to protect yourself from sharp cogon grasses and not feel too hot. Also wear open finger gloves, pants/leggings, and thick socks if you're like me who gets wounded easily

Bring headlamp if there's a possibility of your team getting delayed with the trek.

Always be extra careful and guarded - it's very easy to slip and be seriously injured during river trekking.

Epilogue

Of course I won the bet :)
I'm not the betting kind, but I guess I'll bet on myself anytime.

(c) Miguel

January 8, 2017

Just Keep on Walking (Mt. Tangisan Dayhike)

I opened my eyes, and I was still on a tricycle bound to Mt. Tangisan. I was about to close my eyes again when I noticed the beautiful surroundings - the sky so blue, clouds white and puffy, breeze cold and refreshing. "Good morning indeed!"

At the jumpoff

Mt. Tangisan is one of the mountains that make up San Jose Circuit, a 17-18km loop mountain trail in Tarlac. Loop trail means your entry point is same as your exit point, but the trail you follow is different - unlike in backtrail wherein you just trace back your way. Since the group wanted a chill climb, we only trekked Mt. Tangisan.

Mt. Tangisan, Tarlac

Mt Tangisan trail is exposed, and is a mix of loose soil, tall cogon grasses, and cow dung. Nonetheless, the views of rice paddies and nearby provinces are spectacular - Mt Arayat can be seen towering the horizon from a distance.

Obstructed View (hehe) from Mt Tangisan Summit

The trek to the summit took us about 2 hrs with moderate stops for rest and picture taking. Overall (on a not-so-sunny-but-no-rain day), Mt. Tangisan climb is a pretty straightforward climb - just keep on walking and you'll reach the summit - no crawling, spelunking, rolling, rock climbing, river crossing, mud sliding, etc. Just keep on walking.


Mt. Tangisan Summit

Getting There and Expenses

- P204 - Bus from Five Star Cubao to Siesta (Bus bound to Dagupan but not via TPLEX)
- P600 / 2 pax - Roundtrip tricycle ride from Siesta to Jumpoff and vice versa
- P350 / 6 pax - Guide fee for 1 mountain dayhike

Tips 

- Beware of cogon grasses and amor seco. Wear sleeves or pants if you can so you avoid itching.
- No need for river crossing (contrary to most blogs) anymore because they erected a bridge already
- No washroom in jumpoff because the water pipelines haven't been setup - bring wet wipes if you want freshen up after the climb
- The road to the jumpoff is rough so better charter a jeepney rather than tricycle from Siesta to jumpoff.