So Im part of this small group called the Gear Nerds. This was a group formed after the storm climb of mount Ugo back in August 2015. Basically its a chat room between 4 fools who love great camping gear. I think we do more bantering about who has the best gear more than taking time reviewing it, but this is what makes it fun. A couple of months back we decided to plan a climb between the four of us to mount Palali. The objective is to see the mountain in all its glory….Ok maybe not. We really just wanted an excuse to go out and break in the new cool toys we got and partake in night socials that would involve pitting the MSR brand vs the Firemaple brand.
As time went by however we decided to open this climb up to anyone interested so the facebook invite was made and sent. I really didnt know what to expect from the hike. Up to that time I never even heard about that mountain. Its location and terrain was unfamiliar to me. So my excitement was basically limited to bringing up my new toys and break them in.
I also had the chance to make a new friend at this trip. Her name is Katrijn from Belgium. She is new to the Philippines, a nature lover, and adventurer. It was my college friend Jing Aro that recomended my group to her since Katrijn wanted to kindle the explorer in her, here in the Philippines. I was actually more worried about how she would blend with the group. As the climb approach we jokingly make fun of each other saying that we may run out of English words to speak when conversing with her. When I met her for coffee my confidence of Katrijn blending in increased. Not only is she a nice outgoing girl but a true adventurer at heart like all of us. I had to make sure her gear is complete and during our coffee meet up I made sure to brief her on terrain and weather expectation since this mountain maybe a little more different than what she is use to.
Ok so finally day 0 arrived. Ralph, Katrijn and I met at the first pick up point. As always I rode shotgun with EJ, as the trusted driver, leaving the two to get to know each other and exchange their cultural viewpoints at the passenger seats in the back. They did’nt know it at the time but I intentionally did not want to be part of their conversation so Katrijn and Ralph can get to know each other a bit more. I wanted her to get to know the Philippines and how good and friendly the people are. After an hour of traffic we finally reached the second rally point. Introduced our new friend to everyone while we wait for the group to be completed.
Everyone was present and we set of around midnight, nothing much that happened during the trip. Looks like everyone was knocked out getting the much needed sleep before the trek. For me I was thinking about what this trail has in store for us. I was spending half the night surfing and just reading articles on it on any website I can find. Then again I know for a fact that this will never give me the full picture of the trail. It will only give me indications of the next 2 days. As morning approached and we got closer to the meeting point in Solano Nueva Viscaya I noticed that the weather was actually turning out to be a pleasant one. I was really happy about this, The last time I brought a group up the weather was not at all a pleasant one
We drove for another 30 minutes to the jump off however there was some miscommunication with the guides so we were about 30 minutes delayed hitting the trail. When we started I already knew the trek would be mostly humid and the vegetation will be thick. About a kilometer in all of us in the last group (the big boys) was sweating our assess off. I was a bit confident that Kat being in the second group was feeling right at home with my other friends, so I just had to worry about my big ass and pray I dont overheat like I did in usually do in humid hot trails, The trail itself started with a slow steady incline, One big problem was the mud. It probably rained a couple of days before so the first part of the hike was covered in a thick layer of mud which forced us to be creative in walking. As expected I suffered my first slip which covered my hands and arms with grime and dirt (Damn i thought to myself, I was hoping to remain clean for awhile). I kinda wanted to hit my head in a tree since I did not heed my feeling earlier of putting on gloves now my hands are all muddied up. What the hell right? Who cares? its part of the adventure.
A couple of hours in, I noticed the incline just kept on going and going. That combined with the mud started to take its toll on my group. The watersource is still far in, and we were already halfway through our water reserves. Good thing the porter brought another 3 liters for us. We proceeded in a slow steady pace but there came a point where we all were already asking the guide how much farther it is. We asked him so may times I think he just started to give rough estimates just to shut us up. I dont even know why we ask. I have been doing this for awhile and its not as if we had a choice not to keep going.
The trail was filled with obstacles. Crawling beneath fallen trees, Avoiding sharp blades of grass, Ducking under thorn filled twigs and maneuvering between giant rock formations. It was tiring but freaking awesome. Felt like a kid given a free pass to play in the jungle.
After7 hours we finally hit the view deck they named Haring Bato (Rock King). It was a huge rock formation which gives access to the sights around the mountain. We were blessed with a 360 view of the surroundings and it was beautiful. I think we hit it just at the right time because it was clear and the clouds in the horizon let in sun rays to the land below revealing an awesome opportunity for our photographer Ralph Mariano
. It was a magnificent sight. It was also cold. 2 of my friends Marvin and Jerome had to wait for us to catch up and they almost froze as they napped in that area. After a few pictures was taken we had to push to the campsite which is 3 more hours away. This means 2 hours of that will be a slow night trek. By the time 5pm hit I had to give the order to break out the lights so we dont get caught by dark.
when 6pm hit and I was already in automatic zombie mode. I was hungry, frustrated and thirsty. The only thing that kept me going is the thought of getting to the campsite and munching on that Adobong Pato prepared for us the day before. One thing about being the last to the campsite, is you can surely count on the food being ready for the picking.
Once I started to hear flowing water I felt a sigh of relief since the guide informed us the site is only 10 yards from the camping grounds. Good thing too, there was already an indication that it was gonna rain soon. Anyone who has been caught by a downpour in the mountains can testify to how much of a BITCH it is to set up camp in the middle of falling rain. When i got to the campsite my group had to contend with the last spaces available, Thats the disadvantage about being last. I was completely exhausted that I forgot the pitching instructions of my tent. Good thing the other Nerds are present to help me put it up.
After all was set up and done it was time for the socials. I was soooo looking forward to this since its been months since I drank with friends. Yeah they were still a little hesitant to give me a taste of alcohol given that I kinda went insane last time, but I assured them that I was not gonna turn into a HULK that night, Thou that did not stop Jau from giving me less the amount of shots compared to everyone else. I dont blame him he was there when I lost it in the bar.
Isnt it amazing how the alcohol is never enough when your having fun? I reckon we tore through 4 bottles in less than an hour. We did get a bit noisy but only because we knew we were the only ones in the campsite. The socials also gave our Belgian visitor a chance to experience more of Filipino culture. What did we talk about? Basically same thing anyone would talk about in a bar or a club with one major difference…We have an awesome venue.
As the last bottle was nearing its end I decided to slip out and catch my needed sleep. I was’nt really the best in going down a slipery incline so I wanted to be alert. Last time I was in a similar situation I think I fell down more than 16 times. and I promise you slipping and recovering is a tiring process. Energy much better used to just walking down.
Dudes I have to say that walk down was a challenging one. We were slipping and sliding at some parts so you can only imagine what kind of laundry cleaning we will be doing when we get back. We decided to skip the summit since it did not have the clearing and we got our fair share of the surroundings in the Haring Bato viewdeck the day before. Our target today is to hit the Mapaliao Falls by 2pm. This would mark the end of the trek. Our descent was slow given the mud and how slippery the trail was, but fortunately no one was injured. Yes ..Bruised ego, scraped arms and cut fingers but nothing to worry about. A couple of hours into the trail We took a major rest stop in a small make shift shed down the first major descent. There was a man who allowed us to sit and chat there. Cool Dude. He offered us some of his boiled bananas and some local tobacco.
Like all good things that had to come to an end so we bid him farewell and proceeded down once again.
In all honesty I thought we were only an hour from the falls. I could already see houses and once we hit the concrete road my elation increased thinking “Oh shit finally we are here. I never knew it would take 2 hours more. I kept on thinking at every turn “this is it” but it just revealed another 30 meters of road to walk. I was already mumbling curses at this point.
Finally I got to the end point. Seeing my friends sitting and relaxing waiting for their turn to use the shower room. It was sooooooo good to also see a store where I could have a large serving of Coca Cola. I was so thirsty and hungry I literally engorged myself with the serving of Pancit Canton and Coke. After a couple of hours of enjoying the falls it was time to go back to Manila. I say goodbye to the beautiful mountain designated as mount Palali.
We got to Manila around 1am in the morning on the 9th of November. About 4 hours of my planned time. Damned trucks in the road literally slowed the entire journey. I also had the daunting task of cleaning everything I used for the climb. It was however a very enjoyable weekend away from the city. I love these journeys as I do it not to escape life but rather fully experience it. Its also nice to think that this successful gathering of people was conceptualized 2 months ago by 4 nerds in a facebook chatroom. When I reached the city and my home I am once again reminded how beautiful this world is and I must try to do what I can to have others experience it. Staying in the city surrounded by Malls, Bars and other city luxuries are ok and I am greatful, but it is a small little box compared to the hugeness of mother earth. To close I would like to thank everyone who went up with me. Noynoy, Hassan, Bart Clarence, Marvin, Papi, Harold, Ralph, Jau, Shishi, and Kat you guys made this trip both memorable and enjoyable and I am forever grateful