We went trekking in Mt. Pinatubo last Monday (May 11th). And we finished it with a bang; we’ve got bragging rights which so far, no one has matched (until they try it themselves).
Details and Experience
For those who are familiar with the paths, there are two ways once you reach the jump off point: the “Old Way” and the “Skyway”. Actually now that I mention it, everything apparently changes over time; the details of the trek/ride in this [my] post greatly differ from another traveler’s experience.
From what I know (and what the guide had told us) the government has a contract with the military to literally carve a new Skyway route whenever the rain messes with the terrain. So the “Skyway,” as it were, is ever-changing. As of our visit, the Skyway’s length according to Vic’s GPS, was about 25km – which makes it much longer than the previous blogger’s claim at the time he and his companions used it. What was once a 20-40 minute walk/trek, was now a 20 minute 4×4 ride from the jump-off point – which was not designed to be traversed on foot.
The Old Way on the other hand, would take a totally different [shorter] path to some point where the “trek” up the mountain would begin – a good couple of hours before you reach roughly the same place where the Skyway 4×4 ride would end.
So what happened was we got to the top via the Old Way as planned. But when we were done and ready to go back, it started raining… we then contemplated of once again, taking the Old Way going back – as the 4x4s couldn’t get to us via the Skyway as it was too slippery for the vehicles.
Then it started raining even harder (complete with thunder) which made the Old Way really dangerous. Fortunately, the time we had to re-evaluate our options was right at the part where we could go up to the Skyway 1 A path which by the way, made Maarat inclines look like childs play
So we went up and tried walking as far as we could via the Skyway until we could meet up with the 4x4s… which turned out to be halfway when the weather let up and made it possible for the vehicles to meet up with us.
Given what I mentioned about the current Skyway, and what the driver and tour guide said; we were the first people (the guide’s first time as well) who walked a path that wasn’t meant to be walked 2 And that seemed to never end when done on foot from what we experienced – well, at least half of it.
If Vic’s GPS was worth anything, we probably easily hiked/trekked about 20km all in all. Which sounds easy until you realize you’re constantly negotiating these kinds of paths the whole time. 3 Less the streams/water, but much more increased grades of inclines when you’re at the Skyway
All the right things
I thoroughly enjoyed this particular trip because everything prior to it (and during) seemed to fall into place.
There’s the whole Adidas promo which allowed me to get perfect shoes for the trek. Then Chrise had also registered Cris and I for this 10km run on the 24th – which gave us 20% discount coupons for North Face – which I used to get a waterproof jacket – sufficed to say I was the only one from the group who didn’t get soaked when it rained hahahaha.
Then there’s Katz arriving from the states with the hydration pack accessories I had ordered – so Cris and I were able to use them for the trip. And of course, our investing in “expandable” hydration packs were put to good use as we were able to cram everything we needed into the packs.
Since the shoes Cris and I bought were good for getting submerged as they had good drainage systems, we contemplated to just wear them sock-less to avoid the icky feeling of soaked socks, but we still opted to have a pair each in our packs just in case; boy, am I glad we did because you’ll really need socks.
I even bought visors along (which I never ever used before) just for kicks and ended up using them as well.
Simply put, the gear Cris and I used for our first trip would probably be the same thing we’d bring for future similar hikes. The only thing we need to change is to bring thicker socks… and she’s got to get a waterproof jacket. Otherwise, we were boy scouts then.
Tips for travellers
If you plan to do something like this, here are things to note. Others have been suggested by Vic (which I’m glad we heeded) and others are personal observations.
Best shoes are a combinatin of aquasport (for the drainage) and mountain (for the support/protection)
The trouble with the all-mountain shoes is that while they’re waterproof, it’s all good until the water seeps in from the top – then your shoes are fucked. Well, not realy fucked, but it will be uncomfortable and squishy and heavy. In a trek such as Pinatubo’s there’s no getting around the fact that your feet will get submerged – whether you like it or not.
The other concern to is how “padded” your shoes are. Aquasport shoes are very good drainage wise, but are too thin. You still can do it, 4 Our guide and one groupmate were using slippers but it’s not advisable as you can easily stub your feet. Given what we’ve been through, having bruised feet in addition to aching feet (another thing you can’t avoid) probably isn’t fun.
Same reason as above, you need as much protection as you can get. But in the case of the socks, you’re now protecting your skin from rubbing against the inside of the shoe – because small pebbles/sand will enter your shoes (yet another thing you can’t avoid) and they will hurt. 5 And yes, you can get wounded from it
I can totally relate to the “porma” mentality – which is why I didn’t wear socks initially as well – and the socks I had bought were below the ankles. After the stones/sand entered – 5 minutes of walking sock-less was unbearable that I had to stop, wash my feet, then put on the socks. And even after that, you’d still have to periodically rinse off the accumulated sediments
Forget about looking good, because when you walk as long as we did, you’ll really wish you geared up for “maximum comfort” instead of “looking cool” – so the thicker the better, and above the ankle to avoid it being pulled into the shoe (and getting stones into the socks as well).
Any outerwear that dries quickly is ideal. I personally chose board-shorts, while Cris chose mountaineering ones… both were ok. I opted to wear board-shorts so all I had to do was take of my shirt when I had to swim… then just let the shorts dry on the hike back (and given that it rained, I didn’t mind them getting wet)
You do need waterproof jackets/windbreakers though; it can get quite chilly when it rains (as in smoke-when-you-talk kind of cold). I remember sipping from my bladder and having the water initially cold – then warming up… suggesting that the air was actually colder than the water in my pack (of course by this time all the ice in my pack had melted from the trek under the sun).
A shame that the Buffs I ordered arrived Friday, and I received the notification that they were held in the post office when it was already closed (and they’re also closed during weekends) So I had to make due with my fake Buff hahahaha.
Bring. Food. Period.
There’s no “store” in the destination to buy food from, so if you’re the type who gets hungry (or if you plan to take really long) bring heavy sandwiches or something.
On a somewhat related note, is it just me or do Subway sandwiches suck nowadays? It’s like all veggies and bread and no meat. I’m even thinking that bringing lots of jumbo hotdogs would’ve probably satisfy my hunger better than those stupid sandwiches. That, or rice that’s already mixed with ulam (which Vic brought, but we only got to eat when we got back to the spa)
Again, one of the most underestimated aspects of any physical activity. Water does add weight to what you’re carrying – so I can understand people wanting to bring bottles while we fill up with 2 liters of water on our bladders, but consider this: It’s a fact that carrying heavier stuff while properly hydrated is less strenuous than being weak from dehydration and carrying nothing.
At the end of the trek, I actually wasn’t that tired – my feet hurt like hell for obvious reasons, but being tired wasn’t really an issue.
Having said that, I think our hydration packs are one of the best investments we’ve ever made, it really made everything so much easier and enjoyable – being able to drink without stopping or fumbling through bags, and the fact that the only thing I had to hold was either my camera, or Cris’ hand.
Notes [ + ]
|1.||⇡||A path which by the way, made Maarat inclines look like childs play|
|2.||⇡||And that seemed to never end when done on foot from what we experienced|
|3.||⇡||Less the streams/water, but much more increased grades of inclines when you’re at the Skyway|
|4.||⇡||Our guide and one groupmate were using slippers|
|5.||⇡||And yes, you can get wounded from it|