Holiday Blues

I decided around the beginning of November  to organize a hike and visit Tarak Ridge again. I call this my home mountain since it is my most frequently visited trail. Been here about 5 times already but I never got tired of it. So as usual, I made the facebook invite and sent it out to many of my friends. I was expecting a few beginners in this event. I recommend this since its level is not too hard and not to easy. Its terrain is very manageable, and the Papaya River offers a perfect safety point. Assaulting the summit after the Papaya river will take about 3 hours up a steep incline so if some just wants to stay and enjoy the river well they are most free to do so.

When the week of the climb arrived I noticed only 5 people accepted. I failed to realize that December, especially the time before christmas, is a very busy time for Filipinos. So come the hike day only 4 people made it. That did not matter actually that wont dampen my spirits. I always look forward to a weekend in the outdoors.

Bataan and Papaya River at Warp 9

Ok!!! that was fast!!! Before when we visited the Tarak Trail we usually allotted 4-5 hours of travel time. This is no different. I did’nt know however that the van driver would take the road at warp speed. So the usual 5 hour drive only took us 3 hours. Don’t get me wrong though, the drive was so smooth we all fell asleep without any problems. The thing is ..we got to Barangay Alas asin 2 hours early. So we decided to grab a looong breakfast in a little stall near the Barangay Hall to kill the time. We even toyed with the idea to just day hike the trail or even take another more difficult trail but eventually we stuck to the original plan of hiking to the Papaya River and set up camp then just day hike the summit, leaving the camp gear pitched in the Papaya River.

We got to Nanay Cordings house around 6. I am very impressed that the Van was able to get to her place without any major road set backs. Kudos to the skills of Weekend Galas drivers as always.  Before we used to walk the whole distance from the Barangay Hall to Nanay Cordings, this in itself took about an hour. For those who may wonder who Nanay Cording is well basically she is this little old lady living by the Jump off of Tarak Ridge. She offers moutaineers a rest stop going and coming from the trail. Her Sari Sari Store offers some simple foods and snack for moutaineers once their hike is completed. Honestly thats all I can tell you about her.  I should really remind myself to interview her one time so I can write a piece on her.

The Sweet Old guardian of the Tarak Gates. Nanay Cording always smiling and offering mountaineers/hikers a warm welcome

Well after repacking, small talk and coffee we hit the trail Harold and I took point. I was right behind him. He was in training mode so intentionally he humped a 20-25kilo pack on his back. Mine was a measley 12 kilos, I am proud of this however! I finally got my gear down to this weight and I was able to stuff everything I need in a 34 liter Osprey Bag. I have never done this before. My loadout everytime I come here fits into a 50 liter. I guess I am becoming more and more confident and experienced when it comes to packing my loadout.

Througout the trail I was trying my best to keep up. Imagine this dude with a FULL load hitting that trail at a constant pace. I gotta say it was impressive and it offered a good pace for me. Then again what can you expect from a 20 year mountaineer who just got off the Mindanao Madness expedition a few weeks back.

1, 2, 3, 4!! Steady through the rolling incline all the way to the Papaya River.  About an hour and a half later I started to hear the familiar sound of the river. I could smell it. I had to look at my watch and check the time. I could not believe it. From Jump off to the river in 1.5 hours? Usually this trail takes me more than 2.5 hours to hike. I was pretty impressed, the pacing was really good and it didn’t waste much time or energy. I was still ok and not exhausted.

My Favorite Part of the Tarak Trail, the Papaya River. I should really do some research to find out why its named that..

Setting up Camp: Papaya River

Once we hit the river it was time to set up camp. I decided to stay behind to watch the stuff so the others can have a worry free summit assault. True we could have camped up in the summit but the absence of any water source and the high winds makes camping in the ridge itself a difficult one. Here in the Papaya River we had all the water we need and wind sheer here is very low which makes setting up camp a hella lot easier. So as soon as the group was ready they hit the trail and I was left to my thoughts near the gentle ripple of the river. You all probably think I was in deep thought and retreat during this time. Unfortunately, not really. Aside from snacking on some dehydrated pasta I slept most of the time I was left alone in the River. What can I say?, the gentle sound of water is like a lullaby..Couple that with comfortable gear and almost anyone would KTFO.

This just ticks me off….

One bad thing about the trip is what I noticed once we hit the river. Damnit the thrash on the campsite. There were tissue paper, empty alcohol bottles and some other horrific stuff  date not mention. I really don’t get it? Why would anyone do this? I apologize if I sound too  high and mighty but common if your gonna bring stuff up the mountain please clean up afterwards. I don’t understand what comes over people to just leave their garbage out in the wild. If you cant bring it down then don’t bring it up. It ruins the majesty of the place and it disrespects other mountaineers that uses the campsite. I mean how would these guys react if I go to their garden and just leave my thrash sprawled everywhere. So to everyone reading this I humbly ask to please take down your Garbage when you go down.

Thrash in the campsite. Just really frustrates me and my team mates. Please clean up Im asking nicely

Oh Booooy here we go!!!!

So night time fell and we finished dinner. After tidying up the socials started. We all gathered around Harolds tent prepared some food and the passing of the shot glass started. One little problem was we brought 3 liters of alcohol and only 3 of us were drinking. All I can tell you is it was really a fun socials night but I overdid THE DRINKING, and when I was doing my best to crawl back to my tent I fell hard on some rocks. Did I trip? Hell no I just buckled and fell. Good thing Alex was around to help me up. It was a clean hit however. Almost no hangover the next day.

Damn! I dont remember passing here!

Morning hit, I was up around 7am and  we broke camp around 10am in the morning. I was first to break camp with Alex and Row Row. Decided to test how fast I could make it back to the jump off spot. So basically I trail blazed my way through the path. Funny though there came a point when I hit a spot where the trail split into 2. The other road was brand new and I dont remember passing it on the way up. So I took a moment and experience just told me to take the most established trail, the cleaner looking, more bald one. So I did. I wont lie though, a few minutes in, I was already entertaining scenarios of what to do if I made the wrong decision and got lost. This is the first time I will be going down alone I didn’t want to fuck it up. Well about an hour later I finally made it down to the jump off. It was around lunchtime.

I really enjoy these weekend getaways. Its not really a luxury vacation but to me if offers more fun than any 5 star hotel can bring. It offers me peace of mind and it also trains my body to be one with the outdoors. As I arrive again in the hustle and bustle of the city I already am thinking about my next adventure and where it will be? who will be the new people I will meet and what other magnificent things I will see….

Till next time UP UP AND AWAY..


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