The Walks of Kulot


WOK IN LUZON [MOUNT PINATUBO]

Pinatubo once rebellious scattering its wrath has now come of age and gracefully turned out to be refined and elegant.

Lahar-filled Saturday

2:00 AM. At a very ungodly hour, I was cramming packing my things for a trekking trip to the crater of Mt. Pinatubo. Two weeks before, I got a text message from a good friend inviting me to join her and her officemates for a trek to the crater lake. I was apprehensive at first because I will be joining a group of ten whom I will be meeting for the first time but I told myself that this year will be all about new experiences – and meeting new people is one of them. I gave it a shot and off I went to our meeting place in Ortigas. The fast-food chain, which is the tour organizer’s unofficial meeting place was jampacked with enthusiastic climbers – mostly amateurs like me. It was the Saturday of a long weekend so it was expected that a lot will be joining the trip. Two tourist buses brought the group to the jump-off point in Capas, Tarlac where our adventure will begin.

Lahar dirt road going to the foot of the Mountain.

The 4×4 ride experience

After catching some sleep in the bus we finally arrived at Capas at around 6:00 AM. According to the tour organizers, an unoffical headcount of 120 people registered for the trek. Upon arrival, we were divided into smaller groups of five because the four-wheel drive vehicle (4×4) that will bring us to the foot of the mountain can only accomodate a few. We finally settled in the 4×4 jeep assigned to our group and everyone in our team was in high spirit for an exciting lahar-filled day. From afar, the sun beckoned in all its shining glory as our 4×4 traversed a wide space of ash land. I could just imagine how catastrophic the erruption was – killing hectares of vegetation turned into a vast land of lahar. It was a bumpy and shaky ride as our 4×4 maneuvered through boulders and streams of water. At one point, I thought we were racing with other vehicles and the experience was reminscent of a “chase” in an action movie where authorities are chasing bandits sans the deadly weapons. As the sun continued to rise, silhouettes of mountains from afar were becoming more visible which made the ride more cinematic.

4x4 jeep ride amidst desert-like land.

4x4 parking at the main entrance before the start of the trek.

Trekking amidst lahar canyons

After almost an hour and a half, we finally arrived at the foot of the mountain where our trek to the crater lake officially started. We had to cross a small makeshift bridge to make it to the other side of the mountain because a stream of water was flowing beneath it. Everyone was walking on a normal pace. The terrain was not that difficult as I expected it to be – we were walking on lahar debris which was similar to sand but the color and texture was more concrete-like. Moments later, our tour guide told us that we would reach the crater in three hours at the pace were moving (which is the normal time to reach the crater). He also mentioned that in mountaineering terms, Mt. Pinatubo is 2/9 in difficulty level. Almost two decades ago, in the year 1991 the cataclysmic erruption of the Mount Pinatubo happened. It killed hundreds of people and destroyed vast lands of vegetation and properties. Simultaneously, after the erruption a typhoon struck Tarlac and nearby towns causing a lahar flash-flood which actually caused a lot of fatalities. The destruction left a waste land of lahar, debris and boulders of rock which we were traversing. While trekking, I realized that nature has it’s own way of recuparating. Who would have thought that the lahar canyons would look grand and picturesque? It ain’t karst limestone cliffs but the dissection of eroded lahar mountains creates a different form and silhouette which resembles glacier mountains from Antartica only it doesn’t melt. During the trek, we passed by knee-deep streams. The cold temperature of the water jolted a different energy in me – it was indeed very refreshing if only I could stop and take a dip but we have to make it to the top before 12 noon.

Lahar which looks like snow.

Towering lahar canyons.

Passing by giant boulders during the trek.

Crossing streams.

The rugged terrain.

The three-hour trek would include sceneries like this - eroded lahar canyons and boulders of rocks along the way.

Rock balancing. During the trek, you will notice balanced rock formations such as this which is actually a directional sign/guide.

It ain't karst limestone cliffs but the dissection of eroded lahar mountains creates a different form - it resembles glacier mountains from Antartica only it doesn't melt. 🙂

Antartica in the Philippines?

Beauty comes after destruction

Moments later, we finally arrived at a marker saying “Only 15 minutes (For Young Ones)” to reach the crater lake. Of course, I assumed I belonged to that group. There’s no turning back this time and we continued with our trek. We entered an area with sprawling greens and trees on both sides of the terrain. The breeze was more refreshing because the harsh sun light was covered by branches of trees and the sound of flowing water was relaxing. Finally, we reached the top of the crater and a giant cross stretching its wooden arms seemed like a welcome to exhausted trekkers. The sight of the crater was a sigh of relief. Nature really has a therapeutic effect. It relieves by opening all your senses and calms your soul. The caldera (crater lake) looked stunning as rugged mountains embrace its turqouise blue waters. Pinatubo, once rebellious scattering its wrath has now come of age and gracefully turned out to be refined and elegant. It was one of the most picturesque views I have ever seen in my life – and photos can only say less. Going down to the mouth of the crater, tourists were pitching tents and camping out while having their lunch. Some were enjoying swimming in the lake which was actually collected monsoon rain water. After almost two hours, our guide called for our last 30-minutes stay as we need to be back at the main camp before sunset. I just sat down and I took pleasure with the sight of the crater and realized that sometimes beauty comes after destruction.

Climbing steps to the crater lake.

The view of the Pinatubo crater lake from top. Notice the campers below.

Pinatubo, once rebellious scattering its wrath has now come of age and gracefully turned out to be refined and elegant.

Campers at the mouth of the crater lake.

Pinatubo trek can be a family or a barkada-activity. You don't need to be an expert in mountaineering to experience the stunning beauty of Mt. Pinatubo.

One of the activities you can do at the lake is ride the boat for a fee of P350.00. Quite expensive but this will get you closer to the mountains.

You can also swim at the lake which is actually collected monsoon rain water.

We survived Mt. Pinatubo! - with the Bella team.

Want to join a Pintabo trek?
Visit these websites that offers Mount Pinatubo trekking packages. Packages range from P3,000.00 – P2,050.00 depending on the number of participants. Package usually includes a 4×4 jeep rental, tour guide, entrance fees, packed lunch, and use of shower facility.

PINAYKEYPOINT.ORG and PINATUBO TOURS

*Thanks to the Bella team for allowing me to join your group during this adventure-filled day. Till next time! 🙂

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18 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hi,

Thank you for featuring Mount Pinatubo and for recommending our link.

Juliet – http://www.pinaykeypoint.org

Comment by juliet

Hi Juliet,

My pleasure 🙂

Comment by walksofkulot

Great shots!
I like your photos of Pinatubo and the trek…

Comment by Dylan Chan

Thanks Dylan 🙂 What’s your blog? Hope to see your posts too. Thanks!

Comment by walksofkulot

Love the photos! Wish I could visit this place. By the way, were you with the other PTB Bagets members?

Comment by Ken Michael Jon Taarup

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the kind comment. 🙂 Anyway, I am not with the PTB Bagets group though I want to join them in their future trips. I’ve been seeing photos of their trip in the Bagets FB page and it looked like it was a fun bunch! I went to Mt. Pinatubo with my friends 🙂

Thanks again for dropping by.

Comment by walksofkulot

love your photos especially the one where the lahar looks like snow 🙂

Comment by Christian | Lakad Pilipinas

Thanks Sir Christian! A compliment coming from you really means a lot 🙂 I am a fan of your travel shots!

Comment by walksofkulot

definitely a must to see, can’t wati to see the place during my next visit to PI.

Comment by Nick Flordeliza

Tito Nick, thanks for dropping by. Yes, let’s schedule that when you come back.

Comment by walksofkulot

Nice photos! 🙂 Till next time!

Comment by Nina

Thanks for the like, Nina! and yes, looking forward to upcoming trips 🙂

Comment by walksofkulot

you photos are amazing….. love them all!

Comment by Ian l brownmantrips.com

Thanks Ian! 🙂 I’ve checked your blog, your Anawangin, Nagsasa and Capones post will be helpful in our upcoming trip.

Comment by walksofkulot

While reading the post, I am a bit concerned about toilet facility if there’s any. But finally found it in the bottom (shower facility). ^_^

Thanks for the post, maybe I’ll consider going here too someday. 🙂

Comment by Glen Villar

Hi Sir Glen,

There’s actually a toilet facility at the jump-off point and another one near the crater lake. So it’s really advisable to use it before the trek. 🙂 In our case, after the trek we were dropped off at an area where there are two toilets (which cannot accommodate everyone if you’re in big groups) and a mid-size pool where you can get water from to take a bath. I am not sure if you can take a dip inside. haha I really recommend that you visit Pinatubo in the near future. It’s worth the three-hour trek! Thanks again for dropping by.

Comment by walksofkulot

Wow, that’s a relief. ^_^

I’d love to go to Pinatubo someday and it would be better to join with other travel blogger like you as I myself is new to travel blogging. 🙂

Comment by Glen Villar

Why not? That can be possible! Looking forward to that.

Comment by walksofkulot




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