Monday, January 31, 2011

Mt. Tarak

Mariveles, Bataan
Jump off point: Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles
LLA: 14°30.357′N, 120°30′E, 1,006 MASL (ridge); 1,130 MASL (peak)
Days required / Hours to summit: 2 days, 5-6 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3

The Backpackers:
Ivan Laurence Ignacio
Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.

Mt. Tarak: A Great Major For Us
By: Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.

While the media was busy with interrogating majors and generals in the Armed Forces of the Philippines about the corruption in the said office, i preferred to select nice pictures, wrote this entry and published it via this blog.
Tarak Ridge taken from a national highway.

January 30 and 31, 2011- It was the "end of the first month in 2011 so might as well end it with a bang!", I thought.

That's how it looks like at 10-ish AM from a Tarak height.

I got the invitation a week before the climb from a friend and a Graduate School classmate, Amor Espiritu. I was too excited because it was my first Major Climb happening in a January of a year!

A peak of the ridge.


Jan 30 Sunday

1:30am : Assembly time Boni Ave
2:00am : EtD boni to Mariveles
5:30am : ETA Brgy alas asin Mariveles
check equipment , briefing
6:00am : start trek
9:00am : papaya river, break
swimming, brunch( breakfast, early lunch )
10:am : Resume trek to summit
01:00pm : Summit.. Rest, explore the summit
picture picture
eat again..

2:00pm: Start descend
4:00pm : papaya river ,, swim again
enjoy life
05:30Pm : pack up..
06:30pm : Back at Jump off point
07:00pm : ETD Mariveles
10:00pm : ETA Boni

A view from a terrace.

It was a climb of a non-Backpackers group led by JM Quesada. The Backpackers just had the Mt. Batulao Climb and they could not squeeze this into their schedule. Nonetheless, my Mt. Tarak Climb was so good and it was nice to meet new people... new friends- Kiez, Quin, Rem, Adi and his Finish friend.

We strictly followed what was in the Itinerary. We reached the jump-off point and started trekking at 5:30 AM while it was still dark and very cold in Brgy. Alas-Asin, Mariveles, Bataan.

Started the trek while it's dark and cold.

Armed with flashlights, the group followed a cleared road which ended with a bahay-kubo known to climbers as Nanay Cording's. There we needed to shell out P20.00 per head and donated some canned goods. That was another fee we needed to pay as we had already paid the "official fee" to the Barangay Office. According to Nanay Cording, it was  our "ticket niyo sa kalikasan".

Dealing with Nana Cording.

Via SMS:
Heinz: Parekoy, dagdagan nyo canned goods... we had to donate ours to Nanay Cording.
Ivan:  Ah, nag-start na pala kau... grabe naman sila... irereport ko sila sa Barangay.
A short pause for a pose.
The group continued the journey while the skies became brighter and brighter each second. And, little by little, we saw how splendid the view along the road was...

Watching the sun rises.

Quin and Amor admiring the sunrise.
Cogon grass along the trail.
An easy part of the trail.
A challenging course.
Another challenging climb.

By the Papaya River...

Papaya River ends the first part of the trail, which normally covers three hours of walking and involves wide trails (almost like a road) and, at times, dense grasslands burnt during the summer months.

Nice one!

Flowing waters.
Testing how cold the water was.

Brave ones against cold water!

All of us gave our theory as to why the river, which we were about to see, was named  "Papaya River". One did say "Maybe because there's a Papaya tree in an islet in the middle of the river (?),"  I believe I was able to exhaust my online researching power but got no luck to find its history. 

I am not an expert in classifying bodies of water but for me, the Papaya River looked like a stream. It was a very nice place to rest on that 9-ish AM. Just like a typical rain forest, it got rock formations, tall trees that provided perfect shield against the direct heat from the sun. The group had a small drinking session by the river while others intermittently immersed into the cold waters.

The Bar.
just a simple drinking session by the Papaya River.

The Second Half...

The second part of the trail is accented by tall and brave trees and steep trails. Generally, it takes an hour and a half before climbers reach the Tarak Ridge.

The group excitedly resumed  and faced the more difficult part of the trail. It was mostly steep trails where we needed to hold on to branches and roots for support. Obviously, we did not feel the heat of the sun at all because of the canopy formed by the trees along the trail. And the breeze was perfectly cold! Almost no sweat because what we brought were light packs only.

Notice how leaves form a canopy. They serve as shields against the heat of the sun.

Rem holds on to a root for support.
Roots are big help specially in the steepest part of the trail.
You'll have to pass this before you reach the Tarak Ridge proper.

After an hour and a half (?), see these marvelous view!

Fell in-love with the Ridge

Everything in Tarak Ridge was perfect! I felt the same admiration I gave to Mt. Pico de Loro. Though Pico will  always be my favorite, Mt. Tarak will always be special because it was my first MAJOR CLIMB with my closest buddies. And, it was their first major climb too!

Finally at the ridge!

Scanning the paradise.

JM's Group started their descend at 2:00 PM (still right on the dot with the Itinerary). Me and my friend Amor Espiritu, on the other hand, stayed in the campsite to wait for my climb mentor and The Backpackers Group Lead himself, Ivan Laurence Ignacio, who was already climbing around that time with his girlfriend Angel Cawaling and friend Mon Sarmiento.

Poster by Ivan Ignacio
Ivan Laurence Ignacio, The Backpackers Group Lead
Angel Cawaling
Mon Sarmiento
The three also experienced the dramatic trail to the Tarak Ridge.

Angel calculating...
Once you reach the clearing, you will find yourself facing the first peak of the Tarak Ridge. To its left shoulder is a group of trees and when you actually get closer to it, you will realize that it's the most perfect part of the ridge where you can fix your tent and build a camp.

NOTE: Bring extra pegs to support your tents. Nights are very windy at the Ridge. 

We set up the camp soon as Ivan, Angel, and Mon arrived.

Building a camp.
The Backpackers never leave a climb course unfinished. We always face the challenge of the assault to the summit. 

Soon as we were done setting up the tents, we excitedly started trudging up following the slippery trail to the summit. The wind was consistently strong that we needed to slow down and even paused and sat down from time to time until it weakened.

Mon calculating the height.
A short rest... halfway to the summit.
We needed to duck-walk to pass through this way to the summit.
Angel's shot. Nice one!
Expecting for a splendid sunset.
The Sunset
Being able to reach the top most part of Tarak Ridge brought a high sense of accomplishment to us. And, being able to witness the marvelous sunset gave us a total fulfillment. After the long hours of walk, there we were on the top, scanning the magical landscape of nature.

We happily ended the first day chit-chatting until everybody agreed to sleep as it had started raining. Early morning on the second day, while it was freezing cold, we started our descend... still in love with the beauty of Tarak Ridge behind those fogs.

It was an extremely windy and freezing early morning for us at the ridge.

Prior the descend from the Tarak Ridge on the second . Notice the ZERO visibility in the background.
A rocky descend.

Last dip through the waters of Papaya River.

The road to home.

A glance to the majestic Tarak Ridge.
It was a total experience. All of us promised to go back. And we surely will!

We have been there!

Photo Selection and Captioning by: Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.

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