Re-visiting Pinatubo

An extremely late post. I had actually forgotten that this was in the drafts… a lot has changed (in my life) since then, but I think I should retain the article as is because it would take too much effort to edit stuff just for the sake of making the post more “current/general.” So everything below was written the 28th of April, 2012

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We just got back from our second trip to Pinatubo. I thought I already had known all there is to know about doing a trip like that one – but interestingly enough this time was a tad different – as it was our first time to try one of those discount deal sites (in this case, it was CashCashPinoy)

Just goes to show that you can always learn something new everyday.

Different Intentions

One main reason we decided to do a take-2 was to accompany a friend of ours – who ended up not going the day itself! 1 She now works for the Government so I guess that really comes first

But I was a bit looking forward to it because it was one of the few times I get to use some stuff I have that have been just laying around here gathering dust.

Gear Testing

First was I was going to finally put my KSOs to the test. The KSOs were always marketed as the “do it all model” – but I only get to use them exclusively during beach trips. Nothing can compare to the comfort of the Classics when casually out and about, and of course I prefer to use the Speeds for running for their extra sole thickness. So I was welcoming the prospect of getting to use the KSOs again – and what better way to really test the “do it all” shoe than to take it to the mountains.

Then learning from our Bangkok trip, that it can be better to just bring an umbrella instead of relying on sunblock – and it just so happens that I lost my old Senz Mini and I had just replaced it with an Auto-open version

Unlike the last time where I could leave a bunch of stuff in my car, we were now taking the bus – which means apart form the extra stuff I was now bringing that I hadn’t brought before I’d need a considerable amount of extra space – which meant using my usual [slim] hydration pack was now out of the question. Thankfully there’s one other “outdoor bag” I never get to use – my Ergon BC3. It’s mainly a cycling backpack designed for epic rides – hence it’s size. But given its waterproof shell, provision for hydration packs, 2 Last time we went to Pinatubo it rained, HARD – and we were soaked and it having the FLINK system – I figured it was a perfect candidate for moderate mountaineering – especially given the weight I was now about to be lugging around for hours on end. 3 Besides the Deuter I used for the first trip was also for cycling

The Trip


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A couple of things have changed from the last time we went, but there were still the common stuff like having to ride a 4×4 to the trailhead. That I can say I kinda enjoyed because we were assigned to who I’d like to call “Mad Max” – probably the oldest of the drivers that we saw that day – yet one of the bravest. We were driving through sand/mud/water like a mofo – overtaking in the water. We weren’t the first ones to leave for the trailhead, but we were one of the first ones to arrive.

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The trek was pretty much the same – though you technically don’t pass the same way since the rain constantly changes the landscape, the areas will still feel familiar. It’s worth noting that the skyway 4 It’s a path for 4x4s to get even closer to the foot of the mountain – shaves the 2-3 hour trek to 40 minutes last I heard. we walked on the way back no longer exists.

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The big difference was when you reach the stairs [to top of the mountain] onwards. It seems that it has now become quite a tourist attraction that they “stoned” the whole area – with a bunch of “waiting sheds” and signages.

But honestly, I thought the last trip was better – Pinatubo seems to be nicer what it wasn’t as developed yet. Or perhaps it was because the last time we went, it was the rainy season so the crater (water) had a more interesting hue to it. I guess your mileage may vary.

Lesson Learned

I conclude that one should NOT go on group promo trips. The “discount” you will get is not worth the “hassles” (yes, plural) that come along with such a package.

First is that there are simply too many of you, the first trip was much more enjoyable because we were the only group there – but that may have had something to do with the fact that we pressed on despite being recommended not to continue because of the rain πŸ˜‰ Now, since there were so goddamn many of us, it’s not like you can just “pick a shade” – most likely those would have already been taken by other groups.

Next is the freedom of time you have. With a group you’re constantly at the mercy of the organiser’s schedule. You don’t get a choice when to wait/rest, or when to soldier on. You’d think that this is just a matter of (im)patience, but if you’re exposed in the heat hours on end, you would wish there was a choice where and when to do shit.

Then there comes the “food” – by the time you get to the waypoints you really would find anything delicious simply because you were too tired/thristy/hungry. But that still didn’t mean that you should settle for some crappy food. Again, I would’ve rather spent extra for the convenience of hiring a “carry-boy” to bring proper food/drinks.

And because you’re waiting on everyone, the trip ended much later than it should’ve because everyone just had to shower. I mean we had a quick rinse just to get get a fresh shirt on me, but some of us really had to engage in a fucking’ full-shower experience in a very inconvenient location which was just downright impractical – and given the limited number of stalls – insanely slow. It would’ve been better if we had all just got on the bus, went home and took our respective proper showers then.

So pretty much every aspect of this trip kinda sucked as far as logistics goes. It was literally not worth the discount you’re given. We both thought that the friend who flaked had made the right decision.

Conclusion

Well, like I said – next time you go on a trip like this, don’t scrimp on cash. The extra cash you spend may be double, but just think that you’ll be buying convenience – the sort of “convenience” that’s invaluable in these kinds of trips!

If it’s sunny, bring un umbrella. Don’t try to be a hero; don’t try to say “what’s a little sun?”, don’t even think that you’ll appreciate the sunburn you’ll get, you won’t. Cancer’s the only thing you’re going to fucking get πŸ™‚ If it’s raining, bring a waterproof jacket (as per our first experience) Bring hydration. Take your time. etc.

All in all respect the hike, because it’s not a walk in the park – and certainly does not cater for touring en masse.

Notes   [ + ]

1. She now works for the Government so I guess that really comes first
2. Last time we went to Pinatubo it rained, HARD – and we were soaked
3. Besides the Deuter I used for the first trip was also for cycling
4. It’s a path for 4x4s to get even closer to the foot of the mountain – shaves the 2-3 hour trek to 40 minutes last I heard.

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