9:30AM at the jump off point of Pico de Loro: the group was complete and set for the climb. A steep incline immediately greets us and although not that difficult it was a nice welcome.
The trails of Pico de Loro were very nice. Despite being a very popular trekking destination it was so nice to see that it was very clean—I salute the people maintaining the place for keeping things in order and also the responsible trekkers as well for keeping their litter in place. Of course not everyone shares the same passion for nature so it dismays me to tell you that the trails were not spared and were still vandalized by some graffitis at various points (trees, rocks, and some signages were the victims).
Another thing that I liked in these trails was clean flowing water. Although most weren’t fit for drinking (due to some whitish discoloration) it was good enough in general for cleaning. There were lots of streams along the way and the trail gradients were excellent for everyone: not very difficult for beginners but still have its fair share of challenges.
By about 10AM we were at our “planned” base camp. This area boasts of a flowing clean potable water and spacious enough for several tents—an ideal space for camping. Inadvertently we had to purge this plan because of “a” reason that although I detest a lot and want to exclaim I’ll just keep with the few members of the group. With that irritating experience (which caused me to run back and forth, up and down some distance of the trail, alone) I’ve learned a few things about trekking:
- Buddy system. No one should be left alone, and on the other hand don’t leave your group without telling anyone.
- Speak up. You can always tell the group what’s in your head if you want to do something so your comrades aren’t left in the dark bewildering what you’re trying to accomplish.
- Be a team-player. You’re part of the group, act as a member of the group. No secret schemes for personal gratification.
- Share. Not limited to food or tent space, share what you feel, know, and concerns. You may be at the giving or receiving side of this equation but chances are you’ll have your share of both during your trek.
- Respect. Respect for nature, your comrades, and yourself.
Although the above list could be merged in fewer items, I just like to iterate it as such for emphasis. No plan is foolproof and outdoors it’s always nature’s call but these things make for a better “living standards.”
After some brief discussions with the heads of the group it was decided to move the base camp further up the trail near the waterfall. This new base camp was closer to the summit and had much wider clearing but as a tradeoff the water supply in the area was, although clean, not potable.
It was noontime when we arrived at our new base camp. Of course the first agenda was setting up a camp. Afterwards the “masters of the kitchen trails” prepared and cooked our food while some were eating their packed lunch and some were dosing off.
The group was basically a convergence of two groups: the hardcore mountaineering group of Gab and the RunHikers. Despite some of us only getting acquainted for the first time this was never in anyway an issue and the group functioned as one and immediately bonded, especially during the non-stop “bonding activities” we had all afternoon which ensued all throughout the night.
As a casual day hiker I’m always impressed with the arsenals that my more experienced colleagues carry. I’m even more impressed with the load they carry but what I’m most impressed about was their outstanding culinary skills! With these guys gone are the days of boring camping foods of the usual canned goods or ready to eat meals. Our menu for this day was the attestation of these dexterities: Carbonara Pasta, Teriyaki Chicken, Sinigang, and Adobo. Note that these were not packed lunch but were prepared and cooked on site! It’s like al-fresco dining on trails!
The darkness of night wasn’t able to slow us down and it was about 11PM when we decided to call it a day. Even then chatting didn’t stop inside our individual tents. Being a day hiker there was never a need for me to sleep inside a tent (we never got a chance to sleep during our Mt. Maculot adventure) so I’ll admit it was an interesting experience for me, although not a very cozy one (which would serve as my tent-buying guide). It’s one of those scenarios where more height was a disadvantage.
Being in remote areas at night gives you a feeling of being closer to nature. I first experienced this during my TNF100 ultra trail run and since then I’ve always liked the calmness it brings, especially seeing the much more starry skies of the mountains. It was these skies that the ancients looked upon and believed to tell the future. Tomorrow is part of the future, and tomorrow is where the real adventure begins. Although tomorrow arrives in less than an hour, we can only dream what tomorrow may bring. What’s in store for us tomorrow, I don’t think these stars would tell.
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Freedom Climb Chronicles: