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mt. pinatubo 
november 26, 2005

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the places

Welcome to the lahar country!
A spectacular sight during the road trip
The green-capped lahar mountains
Are we all alone?
Whizzing our way through the river
Whoa! This is the way to cross the river!
Lahar-formed mountains towering over us
The journey to a thousand miles begins with a single step
The way to Mordor
The crater at first sight

the phases

PART 1 - Who says only mountaineers can climb mountains?

Once again, we’re not mountaineers.

But in the early morn of the 26th of November, the Holy Week Travelers (now beginning to be a “Holy Weekly” group) along with several downlines, met at some fast-food store along Shaw Blvd., for yet another adventure.

As soon as we we’re completed, we boarded a private van to bring us to Tarlac.

An hour and a half later, numerous 4x4 jeeps lined up along the highway greeted us. We were in Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac. We registered at the barangay hall and rented 4x4 jeeps from the Capas Pinatubo 4 Wheelers Club. Then, it was time to set out for the lahar country.

The jeepney ride all throughout Crow Valley was bumpy and tiring. Yes, bumpy and tiring. You get tired being bumped to all sides of the jeep! But the view was so spectacular we can’t even keep our seats! We spent most of the time standing, admiring the view around us in its entirety. We passed by several mountains of volcanic ash with luscious greeneries covering it. Os and I kept clicking our digital cameras madly; as if we will run out of natural beauty to shoot (we’ll just worry about disk space later on).

When we can’t take it anymore, you know, simply passing by these gorges, we told our driver to make a stop so we can take more pictures. He tried to decline and told us that there’ll be a lot of other rock formations during our trek. “No!” we said, “pictures during the trek would be another set of pictures.” So, we made a quick stop and took pictures from one side to the next, with us in the frame, of course.

One hour later, we arrived at Dapili, the jump-off point. A lot of other 4x4 jeeps were already there waiting for those who were part of the 7th Annual Pinatubo Climb (or something) that have gone trekking as early as 6am.

While our guides fixed their stuff, we spent the time fixing our own backpacks, making sure that the heavier loads were distributed among all of us. We also took out our raincoats and jackets as the clouds above us hint heavy rains.

By 11am, we started trekking. We were advised to wear sandals during the first part of the trek as we will be crossings the river several times. It was difficult, at first, traversing through the waters with a heavy load at your back. But soon enough, we got the hang of it, with a little “holding hand” here and there. 30 minutes later, we were told that we can now change into our trekking shoes. It was also our time to rest longer. Truly, a much needed rest.

Generally, we were trekking on such a slow pace. We must have rested more than the usual and our guides were often hurrying us up. Despite this, we kept our slow and steady pace. So, some of our guides decided to continue trekking and leave us with the other guides. They had to get to the campsite earlier as they needed to set up the equipments for our rappelling and kayaking activities.

We took our lunch almost halfway during the trek. Again, our guides kept on hurrying us up but it all fell on deaf ears. We were so relieved to finally rest a whole lot longer and eat a hearty lunch. Nope, we didn’t hurry at all. Nature, Mt. Pinatubo and the crater were all not going anywhere so there’s no reason for us to push ourselves to the limit.

We got back on the trail about 30 minutes later. Along the way, we met some of those who joined the 7th Annual Pinatubo Climb and they kept on encouraging us to go further. “2 hours na lang,” one would say or “1 hour and 30 minutes na lang,” another would say. It was good to hear that with the ordeal we’re going through, we’re actually making progress and were indeed nearing the crater.

Frankly, the trail wasn’t anything difficult, with only a few degrees of elevation. But with the scorching noontime sun above our heads and the struggle to walk on volcanic sand and debris and on water, it made us wish we were all back in Metro Manila about to hail a taxi cab to bring us to our destination. As a matter of fact, when our guide told us that we were on our last steep climb to finally see the crater, his words fell, again, on deaf ears. We all had to rest first and rely on our ever-reliable Jaboom Twins to make us laugh and keep our spirits up.

A few minutes later, we stood, one by one, and started going up this one last steep climb. And finally, yes, finally, we we’re greeted by, none other than….

The very green….

Portable comfort rooms!

He! He! He!

And beyond that, as Tito puts it, is the pristine beauty of the Mt. Pinatubo crater.

the faces