This trip was done on impulse.
Months ago, I was searching for trips to Mt. Pulag and chanced upon Travel Factor‘s website. I read up on the trip details and decided I couldn’t do Pulag just yet. That is, I would die. Pulag is a recommended adventure even for novice climbers, but climbing in the cold? Wrapped in layered clothing? I like cool weather, but not the kind of weather that would give me frostbite.
I went to Baguio. I forgot about TF. Then on Monday, or seven days before the actual trip, I saw their listing for Mt. Pinatubo. I’ve always wanted to go to Pinatubo, and I miss walking on a route that won’t give me lung cancer. There was one slot left. I took that as a sign, and clicked the button to sign up.
(Only later — like the night before the trek — did I find out that one of Travel Factor’s Managing Partners was a batchmate of mine in UP Diliman. What a small world.)
Meet up was at 2:30 AM on April 27, Sunday. (Mind you, I was at an event with friends until 9 PM the night before, so I was running on no sleep. The last time I did this was in college.)
Everyone came on time, so we left on time, at 3 AM. The driver was pretty fast, so we arrived in Capas, Tarlac at 5 AM. Our travel coordinator, FJ, wanted to be early at the tourism office, because that would mean we could get registered early and finish early.
Below are the 4×4’s we will be riding to the drop-off point. Very bumpy ride.
My 4×4-mates Greg and Ryan.
That’s FJ taking photos.
The 4×4 will stop at a spot where you could stretch your legs and take photos. The view was amazing.
I think it was more than an hour’s ride on the 4×4. Then the two-hour trek began.
I was expecting the worst. I remember walking in Thailand at high noon in high humidity, and that was really bad. The heat got to me then, and I was worried, because I would be with strangers and I didn’t want to be that girl at the back whining about the heat.
But you know, it wasn’t that bad. The breeze was cool. The ground was a bit tricky because of the rocks, but majority of the trek was on flat land. I enjoyed it.
I think it also helped that I walk for twenty to thirty minutes every day (from the office to our apartment). So, prepare by doing cardio. A person with a completely sedentary lifestyle would be in so much pain during this trek.
Pictured below was the part where the uphill climb began.
I went into this trip thinking that the trek itself was already the prize — I really just wanted to walk — with the crater lake as bonus. And what a bonus.
They sell water here, but the price is 100 a bottle. Ugh. No. Just bring your own water, please.
We got to the crater really early! We were there by 9:30 and ate an early lunch. We stayed until 11 AM, enjoying the view. I hoofed it back with My and Doy (I hope I got their names right) without resting. I was so tired I nearly fell asleep during the bumpy 4×4 ride.
Back to the van, where we had halo-halo (PhP 25) and grilled hotdog (PhP 15) and a cold shower (PhP 50). Sarap! Also had some great conversations with the residents and my travel group.
Since it was still early, we had time to visit the Capas National Shrine, which used to be the Capas Concentration Camp or Camp O’Donnell. Some 40,000 soldiers were imprisoned here, after they suffered the 128-km Death March.
A strange day — to enjoy a walk to a volcano that destroyed hundreds of lives, and to visit a shrine for soldiers who were forced to walk to their deaths.
You need to carry two separate emotions in places of great beauty and great tragedy. I remember some members of the group wondering what the shrine was for.
The least we could do is remember.
Assembly time at 02:30 AM
Arrival in Capas, Tourism Office
4 x 4 ride to jump off point
Start of 2.5 hours trek
Arrival at the crater
Travel back to the jump off point (2.5 hours trek)
4 x 4 ride back to Tourism Office
Travel back to Manila
Side trip to Capas Shrine (if time permits)
ETA Manila at 08:00PM
* Roundtrip transfers
* 4×4 Vehicle to hiking trail
* Local Guide
* Conservation Fee
* Usage of Shower Area
* Sidetrip to Capas Shrine (if time permits)
* Travel Insurance
* Travel Factor ID
Not included: Indigenous People Fee (I.P.I.S) – P 150/person
TIPS from me: Wear covered shoes with socks to protect your feet. Don’t worry about the water you’ll cross, you could step on the rocks. Wear comfortable clothes. I wore a pair of leggings and 100 % cotton shirt. I also brought a shawl to wipe my sweat and protect my nape. Bring at least 1 L of water, and trail food like gummy bears, biscuits, and peanuts. (I also brought Jelly Ace but it was sticky and I had a hard time cleaning up. Just stick to gummy bears.) I also brought facial mist and wet wipes to combat the heat, along with the very necessary sunblock. Wooden hiking poles are sold at the parking area for PhP 20 each; I didn’t buy one, but some people find it helpful to keep their balance.
Many thanks to Travel Factor for the hassle-free trip. I got home before 6 PM.