After a quick lunch at the waterfall campsite, we headed for the summit at exactly 1:00 PM. Had it been under normal circumstances, it would be a very hot climb. So I don’t know if we would thank the bad weather for that. Trees shield most part of the trail from the sun but just the same, if it was not as cloudy, we would be drenched in sweat by the time we reached the summit.
After a few minutes of walking, the trail became steeper. As usual, I was behind the group, not that I wanted to be a sweeper but I always want to take my steps slowly but surely. (And I won’t admit I run out of breath.) Besides, the three teens I was with were all Energizer bunnies who won’t even stop for a break. But, of course, they take a mandatory rest whenever I tell them to stop. LoL!
After an hour and twenty, we reached the campsite. We actually wasted time in deciding whether to turn right and take the downward trail, or left and take the upward one. Normally, when you’re heading for the summit, you would logically think that the upward trail is the right one. But Kenneth, who was at the same mountain last September but couldn’t seem to remember the right path because it was a night climb, decided that we take the right turn. And that’s after turning left and going up a bit.
Good thing the downward trail was the one leading to the campsite near the summit. We got there at exactly 2:15 PM.
The summit’s view from the campsite was breathtaking. The shape of the parrot’s beak was all the more evident up close.
There were a bunch of mountaineers from UST busy taking pictures of one another when we arrived. Luckily, they left after a bit and the four of us were able to own the campsite and the beautiful, beautiful view for quite a while.
And did I say we took pics to our heart’s content?
Ino called Gerald’s phone while we were busy taking pictures to remind us it’s getting late. It’s Saturday and according to him, buses leave earlier than the usual 8 PM last trip because there are less passengers going to Manila on weekends.
But we haven’t gone to the summit yet! Just as we were preparing for the assault, two young mountaineers arrived at the camp site. After exchanging the usual greetings, I asked for the way to the summit. LoL! One of them pointed the way but reminded us that it’s quite dangerous to go up with bags.
We tried bringing our bags cuz there’s no one to leave them to at the campsite. Halfway, though, the trail became steeper with nothing to hold on to but short grasses so we decided to tie the bags around a tree somewhere in the middle and continued the assault with only the cameras and Kenneth’s hydra which I was carrying at that time.
I was the last to reach the summit, poor me, cuz I had to stop on several occasions cuz my legs felt like giving up. When I finally reached the top, clouds were starting to gather toward us, fogging the view of the towns below. I immediately took pictures of the famous rocky tower before it got so cloudy.
Up there, the 360-degree view of the surrounding towns made me once again realize how great God is; how He made nature so beautiful; how He made the mountains so high so developers wouldn’t be able to bring civilization in, thereby preserving them for the nature lovers like us. But then every true mountaineer knows that if we stop being responsible climbers, even the mountains will soon be devastated.
Anyway, we were doomed on our summit moment because we thought the clouds would disappear. So we waited… until it rained! We wouldn’t wanna stay at the summit with the rain cuz the summit was just as big as a bedroom and the trail going down was so steep we feared landslide! LoL! So we had a quick photo op with the barely visible rocky tower and immediately slid our way down.
It was good, though, that we started our descent at that hour. It was 3:52 PM and had it not been for the rain, we wouldn't be going down the summit yet. We were surprised, though, that when we got back to the campsite, a lot of tents had already been put up. We then learned that the two young mountaineers we saw earlier were part of a 31-person group who would spend the night there. And then there’s another group of 20 on the other side of the campsite surrounded by bamboos.
Halfway down, it started getting dark. We feared the night in the mountains cuz we didn't have any headlight or flashlight with us. Aside from the fact that it gets dark early during this time of the year, the clouds made it even darker.
But thanks God for cellphones with flashlights. Gerald and Kenneth’s phones saved us from the darkness of our descent.
Creepy, though, that there’s a candle in the dark trail. We actually saw 2 of these.
We reached the jump-off 6:10 PM, more than 2 hours after we left the summit. We cleaned ourselves at the DENR station where Ino and his tricycle were patiently waiting for us.
Since the four of us were all hungry, Ino took us to a carinderia near the bus station. But since I had a case of allergies and something else the previous week, I was afraid to eat anything other than my Nanay’s food. Good thing I still had a leftover from lunch and just bought a bottle of mineral water from the carinderia.
The three teens, though, didn’t have anything in their bags to eat anymore so they bought food from the carinderia. Anyhoo, I don’t have anything against carinderia/street food. It’s just that my tummy has always been sensitive and I can’t really risk it especially when I’m far from home.
A few minutes after we finished eating, a bus headed to Baclaran arrived at the station. We decided to just take the Baclaran route instead of Alabang. If we chose the latter, we would first go to Zapote, take a jeepney to Alabang then another jeepney going home, not to mention the fact that we’re not familiar with Zapote.
It was a two-hour bus ride from Ternate to Baclaran. And the bus’s aircon was freezing. I wanted to sleep but I couldn’t take my attention away from the cannibal movie the bus was showing.
Anyway, it was another one-hour jeepney ride going home. And it was in the jeep where I felt the soreness of my body.
I reached home 10:30 PM to an uber excited Princess and a tilapia dinner courtesy of my Nanay. And I’m telling you, she knows how to pamper a sore mountaineer.
HOW TO GET TO PICO DE LORO (from Alabang):
* ride a van going to Tanza and asked to be dropped off at the Jollibee branch near Tanza Municipal Hall
* ride a Maragondon-bound bus, you will be dropped off less than a kilometer before the Ternate Welcome Arch (or you can wait for a Ternate-bound bus and drop off at the bus station in Ternate so you’ll have a lesser tricycle fare – 70 pesos - going to the jump-off)
* hire a tricycle to take you to the jump-off at Magnetic Hill for 100 pesos per head
* register at the DENR station for 20 pesos per head
* register again at the Base Camp 1 (which is along the trail) for another 20 pesos
The trail splits into two near the summit. On our way down, we noticed several mountaineers got lost by taking the uphill trail to the left instead of the downhill trail to the right. The arrow sign that points to the downhill trail is just etched in a tree trunk which is barely visible especially when it’s dark.