Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Idiot's Guide to Pico de Loro

We are not professional climbers, but when an opportunity for an adventure beckons, we try to answer positively. Last February, Ivy invited Hannah and Pau for a "hike" at Mt. Palay-Palay Pico de Loro. When they told me, I invited myself to tag along (hahahah!). So, on March 8, we went on to our first out of town trip. Little did we know, we were getting more than we bargained for. Read here for the whole details. :)

So, for other beginners like us, we have compiled the following list as tips and guides for your own adventure. We learned some of these things the hard way, so we hope that we can help others avoid some of the problems we encountered.

1) Do your research. If you have never climbed anything before, better use Google and search about Mt. Palay-Palay and its surrounding land. You should definitely do some meditation before taking on this "beginner" mountain as it is the most difficult peak for first-time climbers.

2) Dress appropriately. Shirt and jeans are okay. If you want to wear shorts, at least wear leggings - there are a lot of rocks, tree roots and other things that could scrape you as you walk. Try to avoid skirts (which Pau wore, but with leggings) as it is very windy near the top, and white clothes (like Hannah's pants) unless you're okay with it turning brown. Also, bring change of clothes. You will perspire - a lot, and you will be dusty and uncomfortable; so you need something to change into after your hike. As for shoes, rubber shoes are good, as long as you are comfortable. If you have soccer shoes (with spikes), that would be better for those slippery soil and rocks.

3) Warm up your arms and legs before hiking. This is something we should have done, but we didn't (hahahaha!). The years we spent sitting down in school and in the office had finally taken their toll on our bodies, so you definitely need to do some stretching at the base camp before climbing. Just a few warm up exercises will do just so your muscles won't strain too much.

4) Bring food and water - lots of water. Trust me, you'll need lots and lots of water. Also, maybe some crackers or candy as you go up the trail. You'll need the energy for at least 2 1/2 hours climb (depending on your pace). Bring your own trash bag and don't leave any garbage. If you don't want to bring food, that's also okay. Before the first peak, there is another camp site wherein you can buy food and drinks. Just be sure to bring lots of money as their prices are as steep as the mountain itself. But then again, to bring those products up there was hard enough, so they do deserve some compensation.

5) Be there early. If you want to do a day hike, be there as early as possible. I think it's better to climb up at sunrise than climb down at sunset. Also, be courteous to your fellow climbers - a smile and greeting can do a lot of wonders.

6) Gear up. On the other hand, if you wish to watch the sunrise at the peak, maybe you can climb up in the afternoon and rest at the first peak camp site. Just bring sleeping bags, tents, ropes and flashlight. The ropes you can use during the ascend to climb those steep areas. Bring utensils for eating, sunblock, first aid and maybe some hygienic products. You don't want to greet a fellow climber with morning breath, that would not be a good morning.

7) Be aware of your surroundings. It's not so bad to look back once in a while. There is only one trail (as the other one was closed down), but the view going up is quite different when you're going down. If you have cameras, you can take some picture of the path just so you won't be confused afterwards. There are also markers along the trail, so be aware and take note of these things especially if it's dark.

8) Have your soundtrack. Having some music can help with the climb as singing helps stimulate breathing. It can also motivate you as you question yourself and sanity on climbing this mountain. Just keep it at a reasonable volume, as well as your singing voice. Some people may not appreciate your taste in music

9) Accept a guide's help. We almost didn't. Some of our companions were climbers so we thought we don't need a guide anymore. But the guy was persistent, so we let him help us - which actually saved our lives. The first peak is windy without any shades and covers, so the loose soil will eventually fly into your eyes. The guides know where to step on the loose path, so they can help you climb even with your eyes squinting so hard, they're already close. Be generous to those who helped you.

10) Have fun! Yes the climb is hard, and you have lots of stuff on your back, but the point of the climb is to have fun with friends and strangers. Enjoy the fresh air and listen to the birds singing. Try washing your hands on the cold stream and experience the beauty of nature. Meet new friends and maybe you can plan another hike somewhere much easier. Leave all the stress behind and focus on your self for once. Life is too short, enjoy it as much as you can.

So, there you have it! Hope this long article can help someone out there. Maybe us thychronicles girls will have another chance to climb other peaks and we can use some of our hard earned lessons from Pico de Loro. It was hard, but it was fun, and very much worth. :)

thychronicles at Pico de Loro (Mt. Palay-Palay)
P.S. Be sure to have the day after the hike as rest day, you're going to need it. :)

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