Friday, July 5, 2013

Photodiary- experiencing a hurricane in Tarak Ridge

My group met up with our guide and his group at around 4AM and boarded the bus to Bataan. 

We arrived at around 9AM and proceeded to have breakfast at the Silogan place after registering at the baranggay hall. 

We were also welcomed into this home where we got to chat with a local after mistakingly thinking that this was where the other group was going to meet us. After waiting for quite a while we started to realize that this wasn't the place that our guide meant. We were behind by an hour so we went through half of the trek on our own, relying on trail signs and marks!

The trail is quite clear at first but along the way there are parts where you have to rely on trail marks. At this point we looked for signs for about 10 minutes, til we found a ribbon on a tree. We took turns in passing our rucksacks since this portion was quite steep and the rocks looked loose. 

After 3.5 hours we caught up to the other group at the Papaya River where we had lunch and washed up. Turns out they thought we went ahead of them, so our guide also proceeded to the camp site earlier to see if we were already there. Oh gosh. 

It was beautiful!!!

The rest of the trip became harder...

We had to take breaks every now and then since Dondi had cramps, plus we also needed to stretch because of the strain our backpacks and water supply caused on our backs. 

yoga break!

This part was sooo fun for me. I love climbing! They don't call me shoulders for nothin. 

We also spotted snakes

I resorted to my biking gloves for this climb since I knew I still needed my fingers when taking photos with the iPhone! I am also obsessed with my new reliable hiking shoes. It's so true that it's easier if you have/wear the right stuff. More grip on your feet = less strain on your legs. Same goes for your rucksack. Only Javy and I had the right bags for this trip, so we were saved from body pains post-climb, even if I had 40L with me and he had 50L on his back. 

More climbing as you go-- look straight and you'll see nothing but the view. 

Faced with loose rocks as you're nearing the peak

Admiring the view after 6 hours of trekking/climbing! 

Well of course I had to pose this way, til Ayen screamed "You're sooooo maarte!" HA! 

So she forced me to do a less-arte pose. 

The guys were in the mood for some brooding shots, too.

Our guide, Dio (in blue), with the rest of the mountaineers who were kind enough to cook for us and guide us downhill after the storm.

The poor tent that we all squeezed into after my tent gave up on Ayen and I, thanks to typhoon Gorio

We could feel the winds and it was starting to rain, but since we all thought the storm was headed towards Samar, we didn't worry too much.

We planned to hike towards the summit in the morning....

But at about 9PM Ayen and I could feel that something was terribly wrong. I slept for about an hour til she woke me up, screaming, that our tent couldn't handle the strong winds and the rain anymore. She asked for help and I was scrambling to keep my things- we both didn't have our contact lenses on so it was a huge challenge. I had my headlamp but everything about a foot away was a blurry mess and everything outside of my rucksack was drenched. 

I also tripped on a huge rock my way to the other tent, and this was the time I realised that I needed to get screened for laser eye surgery ASAP. 

The 6 of us slept in a tent made for 4 for about 30 minutes, until all the poles broke and the fly sheet started to let water in. From 10 PM onwards we stayed inside this tent that started to become a pool of water, with the roof right above our faces. We took turns using our arms as poles to support it, but we eventually gave up. Everyone had chills the entire night, except me (thanks to my trusty waterproof running jacket /windbreaker). At about 5AM we decided to form a circle with our backs faced against each other to keep ourselves warm. Our feet were submerged in water the entire night, and all that was saving me from the hypothermic conditions was my wet sleeping bag. I was trying my best to stop the wind from making me shiver. I pitied everyone in the group since nobody could even step outside for a minute since it was too cold (each one came back and gave up after attempting to do so). The fear was SO contagious. I still had hope but the rest kept worrying about not being able to descend Sunday morning. At about 7:30 AM when there was enough light out, JB rushed towards the other camp and asked if we could stay in their tents for a while to change into dry clothes and take a nap. They were so kind, they fed us and welcomed us into their sturdy tents and made sure we had our senses back. We started to feel better an hour after. We got a lot of tips from them, too- apparently one of them handled basic mountaineering seminars. 

Ayen's clothes were all drenched since she didn't pack them in plastic bags, so I lent her my jacket and running shorts. 

After getting "rescued" (LOL) we were all excited to descend and go home!

This major climb (1,130 meters ASL) was definitely one for the books. It was definitely a wake-up call for all of us- climbing is difficult but rewarding, but you also have to prepare for the worst. It's ironic how we long to get away from the stressful scene in the city, yet we're willing to expend so much energy and time doing so. But it is in these trips that I realize how important exploring the world is to me, and how getting energy off nature is just so incomparable to any other form of recreation. If it weren't for us accidentally getting left behind by the other group, I would've spent more time just staring into everything... it was just too beautiful! Even as we were descending from the peak under the rain and extremely muddy trail, the fog, the cute dragonflies and the water flowing after the storm made me want to stay there... Okay, you guys have to understand that I do have tree-hugging tendencies.. and that my ambition in life is to become a hermit (with a fabulous house), so you'll have to excuse my obsession with the great outdoors! 

For now, Tarak is considered unfinished business since the storm didn't allow us to reach the summit (so close, yet so far! It would've taken us just 20 minutes). I can't wait to head back... We're also planning our next day hike and I'm already daydreaming about it!  

[More info about Tarak Ridge here and here]

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