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mt. pinatubo 
november 26, 2005

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the places

Once again, the pristine beauty of the Mt. Pinatubo crater
The bluish-green color of the crater lake
The 80-foot wall that we needed to rappel
That's how high up the 80-foot cliff was
The view while rappelling down an 80-foot wall
The beauty that destroyed too many lives back in the 90s... how ironic.
Blue skies, green-covered mountains and bluish-green lake... perfect combination
Definitely, we're not alone at the crater
Ever kayak at Pinatubo's crater lake?
Sunset at Mt. Pinatubo

the phases

PART 2 - The crater experience

The camping ground of Mt. Pinatubo wasn’t such a great sight. Aside from the comfort rooms that stood gloriously at the edge of a cliff (yes, it’ the first thing you’ll see before the crater!), grasses had been burned down to probably give more room for campers. There were also two waiting-shed-like structures in the midst of these burnt grasses.

The “waiting shed” near the crater had already been occupied by another group of campers. Our guides, on the other hand, the ones that left us earlier so they can set-up their equipments at the campsite, settled in the second waiting shed.

Our “waiting shed” served as a temporary refuge from the heat of the sun. We also took advantage of the cemented flooring to allow our feet to breathe and rest. We took off all our socks, shoes and sandals and laid them down near the edge of the waiting shed for a quick sun-dry. Some also used the time to change clothes, re-pack backpacks and eat lunch and merienda.

A few minutes later, we trekked to the site where our rappelling equipments had been set-up. For safety purposes, we had to rappel down an 80-foot cliff one by one. As usual, Roselle came first, then Os, Laiza, Alia, Barok, Ellen, Joan and Nova. And where were the boys? They claimed they would rather go to the crater on foot, than to rappel. They said they would waste up so much time waiting in line, when they could just trek to the crater and spend the time taking photographs.

Okay, fine.

Let’s give some credit to the boys. Rappelling is really a very physical activity and it takes a lot of strength to get to the bottom of a cliff. In fairness to Alvin, he was really very tired as he volunteered to switch backpacks with Joan (her backpack was soooo heavy there were probably concrete blocks inside!) Tito, on the other hard, opted to take photographs, catching in still every inch of the crater’s beauty. And true enough, when we saw all his shots, they all had great compositions with some having a few lighting effects. And Ramil… Yes, Ramil. Hmmm, what was your reason again, Ramil?

Rappelling down an 80-foot wall wasn’t any joke. Sure, we all (except Alia and Joan) had experiences in rappelling. Our Kweba de Oro experience in Cagayan de Oro was actually more difficult as we had to rappel down 90 feet in total darkness. But this Pinatubo wall shouldn’t also be underestimated. Once you look down at the edge of the cliff and see what we needed to scale, it wasn’t such an impressive sight. It was high alright! The loose rocks and sand that make up this wall wasn’t also easy to step on. We had to be very careful so as not to let any bigger rocks fall on our rope man down below.

When the first few girls (emphasis: girls!) finished the rappelling, they immediately went where the rubber kayak was and paddled their way throughout the crater. While some were kayaking, the others were swimming. Yes, swimming, despite the fact that we did not bring any swimwears with us. So, we swam into the crater lake with nothing else but our trekking clothes!

It was only when the sun had finally set that we called it quits and decided to head back to the campsite. We decided to pitch our tents inside the “waiting shed” and tried to squeeze in all four. We fixed all our things, cooked food (in our case, water), hang up wet clothes, ate dinner and were so surprised to realize that we were ready for lights out as early as 7PM!!! So, we decided to make use of our time to discuss other travel plans and some personal stuff. By 10PM, it was already lights out.

Or so we thought.

The winds at the crater were so strong that most of our things were being blown off. We had to secure all our stuff and re-tie our hanged clothes to make sure they would stay there until we wake up the next morning. Our tents were constantly moving every time a gush (or a wave) of wind would pass by. Inside our tents, it felt like a storm signal number 4 was looming over us, but really, the sky was clear and that was just a typical Pinatubo wind.

the faces