Posts Tagged ‘Grotto

21
Apr
14

Lenten 2014: The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

For many people, the Holy Week means a lot of different things—from vacation to visiting churches.  While I don’t observe the holidays in the traditional manner, I still opt to keep away from merry socials.  This year though I did something different from past few year’s Visita Iglesia.

The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan

Continue reading ‘Lenten 2014: The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes’

01
Dec
13

Strawberry Chronicles: Impromptu Trip to Baguio! (Day Three)

Time flies so fast when you’re having fun.  It’s our third and final day in the cool and breezy city of pines, Baguio.  On our third and last day, the sun got shy and we were threatened by the rains!

Rizal Park in Baguio City

Continue reading ‘Strawberry Chronicles: Impromptu Trip to Baguio! (Day Three)’

04
Jan
13

Baguio City Quickie + Food Trip

Just before 2012 drew to a close I managed to take a quick break from the hustles and bustles of Metro Manila by “chilling” in cool weather of Baguio City.  Here’s my trip in pictures.

One of the common sights of Baguio City: flowers

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14
Apr
10

Mt. Maculot Revisited (Part 2)

The challenges were going back up the trails and retrace our route from the summit to find the right way.  Luckily my teammates followed my suggestion of packing light so despite the crumbling ground, with teamwork they were able to pull through with relative difficulty.   I however didn’t with my weight training.  Mt. Maculot was having its revenge on me. I was practically unscathed the last time we met; now I was experiencing the runner up for the scariest moment of my life—hanging onto dear life as my arms were solely carrying my entire weight, clinging onto roots that I dug while the ground beneath me that offered little support was slowly eroding due to my weight!  I seriously felt like anytime the roots would give out, I’d slide down, and be unable to climb back up the eroded ground.   And I can’t keep carrying my entire weight for long!

The challenging part of the trail, courtesy Jairuz

Luckily our sweeper Allen did great at his duty and stayed with me (from stable grounds of course) during my struggle and lent a hand until I was able to pull through.   I was also lucky that the others didn’t saw what happened to me as it was really scary.

I climbed up and grab onto the root we originally used going down.  As the ground crumbled I had to expose more of the root and cling to it with both arms.   I had to think fast and dig for some more roots before the ground totally erodes, and eventually I found another on my left where there’s a more stable ground.   The problem was that a really thorny plant was blocking my path to transfer.   I was running out of time as the ground totally gave way so I just reached and grabbed that root and before I was able to successfully transfer to it I felt a lot of thorns gracing my face.   From there I don’t really remember how I managed to reach for the stable ground where Allen was staying.   All I know was that I got away from it all with some small holes in my upper lip area (no thorns were carried apparently) and an inch of cut on my left knee, aside from some minor scratches of course.  Thanks Allen for staying!

Dead end! (Jumping off a ravine isn’t part of the plan) Courtesy Carina

I wasn’t smiling right after that incident and I thought that “this isn’t fun anymore!”   I felt that my heart beat was really elevated and my right quads was throbbing—all muscles of it, ready to have cramps at any second.   Fortunately running thought me some lessons so after some rehydration and proper management of effort we were all going back to the summit to find the right trail down.  And of course the idea of finding the right way brought back my smile. 🙂

We were back on top and Mt. Maculot had already given us more adventure than we seek.   Eventually the right path made itself visible to us and so we were on our way to the campsite where the infamous store used to stand.  Of course going there still gave us some challenges as we encountered crumbling trails on the way down.

This is how the old store looks like now; well it’s no longer a store although you can still buy cold drinks in the area (Pinoy ingenuity, but sadly no more halo-halo) 🙂

From the camp site most of us went to view the Rockies but only two went to it due to laziness brought about by the heat.  After resting for quite a while and some cold drinks we started our descent just before 3PM.

The Rockies which I wanted to go to but I got a bit too lazy 😛

Our group just before our descent

Going down…

Sadly the numerous Buco (Coconut) juice vendors that frequent the trail a year ago were also gone but one still managed to stay completing my day.  Again, ingenuity.

This is where “tourists” normally start their trek

Climb Tip: The advantage of descending near the mountaineering store was the proximity of houses where you can take a bath, for a fee of course.  A tricycle terminal is also located nearby.

After our descent we opted for some nice bath, halo-halo, and barbecue, all of which in the vicinity of the mountaineering store.  From there our buses back to Manila are just a tricycle ride and P20 (per person) away.

Our trail route (via Google Earth): note that from the summit we were mislead by an established trail to a dead end so we went back to summit and found a way back to the camp site (Rockies), totaling at least 6K worth of trails

To those also planning to follow our path here’s the summary of our route: start at the jumpoff point (Grotto trail), climb to summit, head towards the camp site (Rockies), and descended to the mountaineering store area (descent from summit is approximate as my GF405 ran out of batteries).  But don’t forget to register first!

Appeal: I kept mentioning the word “tourists” in this post to refer to the sets of people that litter the mountain leaving all sorts of junk that they carry with them.  Unfortunately Mt. Maculot is in a very bad shape because of them and is in fact worse state now than my last visit a year ago.  Don’t be a tourist, be a responsible mountaineer by bringing all your trash with you on the way down! Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos, kill nothing but time.  Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution!

Please keep our mountains clean

At the end of the day I was pretty satisfied with the way things turned out.  It didn’t go “according to plan” the same way our last visit did but the unanticipated moments of getting lost and finding our way back really made it into an adventure—the thrill of spontaneity.  If everything went “according to plan” we may not have enjoyed our climb as much, and even I who thought knew enough the trails of Mt. Maculot had new lessons learned.

Mt. Maculot adventure complete!

Congratulations to my group particularly the first timers for completing their first trek/traverse! Great job guys and I hope you learned some valuable things with our assault, and hope this is just the start of many more climbs to come!

11
Apr
10

Mt. Maculot Revisited (Part 1)

Stubborn as I am my injury wasn’t enough to keep me in one place—once again I’m out and about on an adventure, this time to revisit an “old friend” Mt. Maculot.  And what perfect date to set it but on another long weekend courtesy of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor), the 9th of April.

It was almost a year ago when I last (and first) visited Cuenca, Batangas where the famous (and also infamous) mountain is located, south of Taal Lake.  This time I’m back to lead (or more like guide) new adventure-seekers in search for some crash-course on mountaineering for a bigger adventure that is TNF100.

This was my first time to lead anyone on a mountain.  The members of our previous group that assaulted Mt. Maculot were occupied, so as reluctant as I was I had no choice but to lead the group that was mostly comprised of women, many of which had absolutely no experience trekking.  I had promised that I’d take them on a trek before TNF100 for some training and so even if I was a little banged up I had to keep my word.  To make matters worse I don’t remember the trail we took before as we did our previous assault at night! Fortunately our group was joined with additional testosterone on the last minute so I was able to forget all my concerns.

Our group (clockwise from the left): Carina, Vicky, Tracy, Carly, Ric, Doc Art (which had to leave us early for a “doctor’s call”), Allen, Jai, Ellen, Me, and Glenn, courtesy Carina

I had originally planned for a 1AM departure from Manila but due to a sequence of unfortunate events we were able to leave Manila at 4AM.  Then there was a road accident en route further slowing our progress and it was way past 7AM when we finally got to Cuenca.  There goes my sunrise plan!

Travel Tip: Buses passing through Cuenca from Buendia/Taft don’t have a fixed departure time as we learned the hard way, better ask the bus company what time their buses are “scheduled” to leave and add an hour for waiting time.

Since we were already way behind schedule we decided to take the faster way by riding tricycles toward the registration site (P10/person), Barangay Hall (where we had our restroom break), and the jump-off point.  We were initially taken to the “traditional” jump-off point as I forgot to mention to our drivers that we were starting via Grotto trail and not the usual “tourist” trails, thus adding to our fare.  Tricycle cost: P30/person (five persons per tricycle) which was a little hefty in total but it’s a way of life called tourism!

Eating before taking on the Grotto trail, way past 8AM, courtesy Carina

Before: still clean shoes

A year hence, the dirt roads that we took before are now paved.  Uh oh!  Not much seems familiar!  Hiking in daylight does have the advantage of locals being awake and able to tell you the right way as I obviously am lost that time, so in summary we found the Grotto trail and everything was uneventful, except that I forgot how heart-pumping this trail was (great workout for the glutes).

Group shot at the base of the Grotto’s trail end, courtesy Ellen

Notice my huge 40L bag.  Aside from guiding friends I also was doing some weight training, also for TNF100.  I’ve no idea how heavy it was but it contains 3.5L of liquids, a 700g netbook, a pair of sandals, change clothes, etc.—no light packing today!  A year ago I was carrying a regular backpack and just wore a tee and a pair of denims—things have really changed!

With Vicky on our way to the summit: behind us are stores being dismantled (probably set up during the past holy week because of the Grotto), courtesy Carina

Our journey from the Grotto to the summit was uneventful and was surprisingly fast.  From our previous record of eight hours from Municipal Hall to summit we were able to reach summit from jump-off point in less than two and a half hours!

Vicky climbing a section of the trail I fondly call “the wall” because it seemed like one when I first saw it a year ago in the darkness of night (with glass bottles hanging on my backpack and our headlamps on). Looking at it in daylight it hardly seemed so. (Courtesy Carina)

Our “uneventful” series ran out on our first attempt to find a way to the Rockies.  I vaguely remember the details and the trail I remembered that we took were no longer that established.  With suggestions from my teammates we took the “obvious” route which spelled trouble for us.

The “obvious” trail eventually leads us to a very difficult location with a matching dead end.  Many of my teammates slid down the trail as the earth was loose—it crumbles beneath your feet, literally!  All of us get some challenge with that one, only to find out that we’re on a dead end (unless of course jumping off a ravine was part of the trail!).  I can’t believe that we’re lost! (Again?!)

(Continue to part 2)




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