A few weeks back, I experienced many firsts on my fifth climb. The Tarak Ridge, it is situated in Mariveles, Bataan at 1103 MASL. The moment you arrived at Bataan, the first thing you need to do is to go to the Barangay Hall to register. You’ll have to pay a registration fee (30-50PhP). We ate our first breakfast here, our next brekky will be in the mountains. ^_^ I’m actually quite excited, though its my second time sleeping in tents, but this will be my first authentic experience of camping. Anyway. our first stop is Aling Cording’s House. Here, we register again. I forgot if we also pay something around (30-50PhP). You’ll also be assigned with a tour guide here. If you’re with an experienced hiker who’s familiar with the terrain you can choose not to get a guide. From the Barangay Hall to Aling Cording’s House, its approximately 30minutes walking. Along the way you will see farm lands fresh from Kaingin, they still practice it here. Arriving at Aling Cording’s house you will see colorful tarpaulins of different groups who successfully climbed Tarak Ridge. So if you have a group, you can bring your banners with you and donate it there. I’m not sure though if there’s a fee. You can ask Aling Cording. She’s very approachable. I can say she’s a mountain sensation as many climbers are having photo op with her. 😀 I strongly suggest you do your thing here. It will be a challenge to do it along the way as it will be a really long walk. We also met a solo hiker here and joined us as we climb our way up to the summit.
Our real journey started when we left Aling Cording’s house. You have to walk four hours to Papaya River. Our group also decided to eat lunch there. So my motivation that time is lunch. 😀 During our walk, you can expect grasslands with a lot of assaults. After our first two hours of walk I kept on asking our tour guide if its still far. Good thing he’s so honest and told us that no its still far. 😛 There’s a part where you can see open area going to the forest after a serious assault. When you reach that, you’re quite nearer to the Papaya River. Btw, according to our tour guide, its called Papaya River, because they believe that the river can make you look whiter. (Instant Glutathione. 😛 ) Anyway, as we enter the forested area, you may encounter trail that looks exactly the same. Actually, I’m quite anxious during that time because I thought we got lost. And I never imagined myself getting lost inside a forest. I’m actually freaking out and kept on asking my friend to whistle in order to get the attention of our group. But we’re responded by chirping of the birds. 😦 Its quite frustrating, but don’t give up just keep on walking. Any moment you’ll see the Papaya River. 🙂 The trail that looks exactly the same is the one with huge stone boulders where you have to cross just to proceed to the other side. Its kind of mossy as well. If I counted it right, you’ll see that four times. 😀 When we reached Papaya River, we ate our lunch here and rested for 1 hour. We’ve also refill our water bottles here. So if your not that sensitive with water, you can collect water here. 🙂 I tasted the water and its tasteless. the water is potable thankfully. 😀
After we rested we continue our way to the Ridge. Some climbers opt to camp here but since we want to see both sunset and sunrise tomorrow, we decided to setup on the ridge. I have to tell you the way to the ridge is really challenging. Its always assault. 😦 I almost give up but I always remind myself the reward will be amazing on top. So I kept on pushing. 😀 As far as I remember its a two hours trek to the ridge with mostly assault. You will know that you’re almost there if you came across the almost 90 degree terrain where all you have to hold on are the huge roots from trees. If you’ve been to Hulugan Falls its quite like that. Only that the soil is quite dry. So you have to be really really careful. The challenge going up to the ridge is we’re on full pack. I have a friend who’s on a full pack and my goodness its not a joke. You have to be physically fit. Good thing the group that I’m with is really fit. And one of them is celebrating her 18th summit. Can you imagine? Anyway, after you’ve passed the trail with huge tree roots. You’ll find a steep grassland again a sign that you’re almost there. My knees are really tired as we reached that grassland at the entrance of the ridge. Though its so fulfilling because the view is spectacular. The dense forest are so relaxing to see. Anyway, We hurried our way to the ridge. Good thing our area is covered with trees. That’s why at night we don’t feel the blowing of winds we only hear its sound.
Our tour guide led us to the covered area of the camp site. We bid goodbye to him here and paid him. We’re a group of 11 so we decided to pay him 100/pax. After we setup our camp. Our group decided to take a nap. I have to warn you, there are rats the size of a kitten lurking around so be careful with your food. As much as possible, hide them to your tents but make sure it wont attract the attention of the rats. They might damage your tent just to get your food. Anyway, the reason why I said that its my first authentic camping is, our group did the cooking of food. My first which is on Pulag, someone cooked it for us. I didn’t do the actual cooking but I helped to prepare the food. Like I always say during the climb, “The Best “Whatever is I’m eating food” Ever”. Right now its The Best Tinola Ever. 😀 After dinner we did our socials, where they brought up liquors. I didn’t drink much only a sip just to relieve the coldness of the night. 😛 But if you’re a heavy drinker I suggest you drink moderately this time. It will still be safer if your not under the influence of alcohol while on top of the mountain. You can revenge later after you descend 😛 At around 10pm we decided to sleep. I set my alarm at 3am to give time for the preparation. While inside the tent you can hear the strong winds howling. Thankfully we’re on a shaded area we didn’t feel much.
I woke up with my alarm’s ring at 3AM. I didn’t go outside because I’m afraid. 😛 But I have to admit while sleeping I felt something is happening outside I’m hearing rustling sound only to find out that our salted egg was robbed. 😦 When we woke up we saw it scattered along the camp site. We hang it on a nearby tree but the mountain rats are so good like James Bond and they still managed their way to the food. 😦 Anyway, I’m quite hesitant at first to go to the Summit of the Ridge I’m close to not joining them in reaching the top but thankfully I still decided to. Because the view on the summit is breath taking. With Sea of clouds 🙂 One of our friends was able to capture a timelapse video of moving clouds. Its really cool. 🙂 Well on the way to the summit, you’ll have to face an assault terrain with huge rocks. Its covered with trees so you don’t have to worry. 🙂 You can also look around and find the Millennium Tree. Its a dried up tree with a dramatic view of the dense forest down stairs. 😀 So far our hardwork was paid of by the breathtaking view of the summit. Nice weather and a very scenic sunlight is what I’m looking for in every climb. I’m actually not sure why I’m doing this but its like love that you can’t explain and have no actual definition. 😉
After witnessing the scenic sunrise, we ate our breakfast. The Best Tasting Spam and delicious fitbar for our snacks. 😀 We have to stock up our energy to climb our way down to the Papaya River where we decided to take a quick plunge. What took us hours to climb up we managed to take it by half. 🙂 We’ve decided to advance other climbers that cut our time to descend. I have to admit, my knees aren’t fully recovered from yesterday’s climb but I still managed to push myself to the limit. 🙂 We eat some snacks here and refreshes ourselves to the cold water of Papaya River. Its true that the river can make your skin look whiter because the water is really really cold. 😀 So I think that’s the reason behind it, unless there’s a medical study that will prove that the water has whitening capabilities. 😛 Anyway after swimming, I just changed to the similar clothes I wear from yesterday’s trek and we decided to climb down to Aling Cording’s house. Again we finished it much faster. 😀 We reached it in less than two hours. 😀 I can’t believe I can push myself to the limit. But thanks to the water supply of Papaya River we didn’t bother much.. 😀 We cleanup ourselves at a nearby houses at the very entrance of the Tarak Ridge. It cost us 30PhP for CR and Shower services. After that we travelled our back to Manila. 🙂
By far, this is my most challenging climb having experienced a literal 4×4. Using both your hands and feet clinging to your life. 😛 Its also a part where you literally rock and roll. Rocks are rolling onto you.. 😀 But the reward after all this is I experienced how wonderful Earth is. How blessed are we that we live in this country called Philippines where we can see these wonderful creation… I’m praying that the future generations will be able to experience it someday. I can’t share with you the cost of T Shirts, Bag Tags or Ref Magnets because I didn’t find one. I hope I can find someone who prints Bag Tags and Ref Magnets as its my remembrance for my Fifth Mountain. 🙂
Will just share with you this sample Itinerary prepared by my friend Lory:
02:00AM Assembly at Total Gas Station (Balintawak)
03:00AM ETD to Mariveles, Bataan
06:00AM ETA in Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles
06:05AM Breakfast at Alas-asin
06:30AM Registration at Alas-asin Barangay Hall
06:45AM Start Trek! smile emoticon
07:15AM Stop-Over at Nanay Cording’s
07:30AM Start Trek to Papaya River! smile emoticon
10:30AM ETA Papaya River
11:00AM Lunch at Papaya River
11:30AM Rest, Fill all water containers
12:00PM Start Trek to Tarak Ridge
05:00PM ETA Tarak Ridge (Set up Camp)
05:30PM Wait and watch sunset at Tarak Ridge
09:00PM Lights Off smile emoticon
04:00AM Wake-Up Call
04:30AM Start Trek to Summit
05:00AM Wait and watch sunrise
06:00AM Start descent to Tarak Ridge
06:20AM ETA Campsite
7:00AM Start descent to Papaya River
09:30AM ETA Papaya River
09:45AM Have fun at Papaya River
10:30AM Lunch at Papaya River
11:00AM Have fun at Papaya River
12:00PM Start trek!
02:30PM ETA Nanay Cording’s
03:00PM Back to Jump-Off. Wash.
04:00PM ETD Mariveles to Manila
07:30PM ETA Total Gas Station (Balintawak)