Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The first hike at Mt. Palay-Palay

A couple of weeks ago, Ivy invited Hannah and I to a hike with her office mates to Mt. Palay-Palay/Pico de Loro. As the only "beach" queen/butanding (I think) in our group of friends, of course I was hesitant to go. But seeing my mountain enthusiast friends excited and not wanting this opportunity to pass - I reluctantly agreed. We mentioned the trip to Ruth during last month's PIID meeting, in which she found it interesting and asked Ivy if she could come too. The last person to come with us was of course my boyfriend, his reasoning was that he was unsure about me and the mountains. So 4/6 of thychronicles went on an adventure ~

"Mt. Palay-palay or Pico de Loro is a dormant mountain located in the Cavite province. The mountain rises to an elevation of 664 m (2,178 ft) above mean sea level." -source It is one of the most popular mountains in the area, the other being Mt. Marami. One of the unique aspects of the mountain is the Parrot's beak at the peak - which is an optional climb for experienced rock climbers. Travel time may take around 2-3 hours from Manila, depending on transportation.

We first met up at McDo Gil Puyat / Buendia at 4:30 in the morning. Hannah was the first to arrive there, in which she noted that the atmosphere during that time was different as most of the customers of the said fast food chain were experienced climbers. Rightfully so as it is just beside a bus terminal which goes to the southern part of Luzon. There are many mountains to climb in the south, I guess? We ate breakfast and waited for the van that Ivy's office mate hired for this trip. Cost for the van was 450php/person; which totaled at 4500php as we were 10 in the group.

As for the route, the only thing that I know of is that we took the cavitex haha. It took around 2 hours to arrive at the destination. There are canteens and stores here for your last minute supply purchases, but of course it is more expensive. Last bathroom breaks for everyone and we then registered at the DENR station. There is of course an entrance fee of 25php/person. And now for the hike:

We followed the new trail as of Feb 2015, because the old trail was closed down to due some issues. At first I thought this was doable since this trail has steady incline with a beautiful scenery of a dried up river, a refreshing cool breeze, and jokes all around as we were looking for the trail marks. The last part didn't last long. At the "start" of the trail in the forest, we could see from afar the STEEP hike that we were going to take.

Hike is an understatement. We had to climb up through the use of the environment and rappel down using bamboo in some parts of the trail. Check first what you're grabbing though, it might be a thorny plant or not as sturdy as you would think. Half of our group went ahead of us since they're more experienced compared to the first timer thychronicles team. I even slowed the group down due to my asthma attacks and very low stamina. Sorry guys!

Up and down the forest trail.
As much as I regret this hike, I couldn't quit and go back to the starting point - I couldn't let my friends down. So we slowly but surely climbed up. We also passed by a lot of people climbing down, each greeting us a good morning and encouraging us during our climb. We did the same greetings to all the passers-by after that.
Ivy and Ruth.
At one point, Hannah shouted "Pau kita na yung dagat!" which made me quickly climb up to their location. To my dismay, Hannah confused the green mountains to the blue sea. How? I have no idea. At this location though, you're at around 30-45mins until the campsite. Do take note of the bamboo trail.

Hi Ruth! (me struggling at the back HAHA)
So after a 2 1/2 hour hike, we finally made it to the camp site! There are also stores here which sells very expensive drinks - understandable though since they brought their wares here by foot. They also made a makeshift bathroom for those willing to pay. There's a cliff side where you could see the peak and the monolith. Be careful as its very windy here. There are also guides at the camp site asking people if they're first timers and whatnot.

Watch your step !
We were already tired from the hike, but seeing as we're here already, might as well climb to the peak. So we #YOLO'd. :P

Our destination (the one at the right)
Ivy's shot was more vibrant.
We hired a guide for our group of 10 and started our climb to the peak. The climb is STEEP! You need to grab onto trees, roots, and rocks on this area. For first timers it is highly recommended to get a guide as they will, well, guide you through climbing this part. They know the areas you need to step on, and the parts where you need to grab. I LOVED everything about this part since I'm familiar with wall climbing.

For the final part, please be careful as this place is VERY windy. The rocks are also slippery. So how can the guides climb through this in only their sandals? So pro! After a while we're finally at the peak:

Somewhere in this view is Corregidor island. Seriously!
The campsite.
The peak where you could see all the coves of Cavite. The very strong winds was a wonderful welcome reward. It was very satisfying for all of us that we finally reached the top. Inggo even slept for a while due to sleep depravity. Hannah couldn't take it any longer and ate her lunch:
"Love ko 'to"
"The girl with the non-existing pearl earring eating a fish fillet"
 The others took pictures of the surrounding landscapes. We took a selfie:

Pau and Hannah.
With Ivy!!
With Ruth!
I even forced Inggo and Ivy to take a photo of my whole outfit:

Thanks Ivy! No I'm not tired, just waiting for the other to climb down hahaha.
Not for hiking fashion by me. HAHA.
There is an optional climb for the experienced and fit climbers - which is to climb the monolith. I think this is where the term `pico de loro` came from. We didn't even consider climbing that one. Maybe in the far future where we're fit and as courageous as those climbers...

Parrot's beak.

We went down to the camp site after resting. Climbing down is another challenge in itself. It was a slow descent as it was tricky due to the loose rocks. Inggo, Ivy, Mitch (Ivy's office mate), and I were the last of the team going down. Someone even called Ivy while waiting. Ruth mentioned that she finally witnessed Hannah's "gagamba" moves.
The windy area.
Ivy, Inggo and I climbing down. Thanks Ruth for the photos!

For the next part, some people didn't even noticed that what we climbed earlier was THAT steep. Another challenge for the team, I think? Again, I enjoyed this part. The key to climbing down is knowing if your footing is steady before letting go of what you're grabbing. We ate lunch at the camp site and rested for an hour before our descend. The descent took around 2 hours.
Lunch time.
We also noticed that for some reason, we haven't seen any fauna during our hike. Hannah whistled during that discussion and some birds replied to us which was amazing! The river area was a welcome respite for us since it meant that we're near the starting point.We even dipped our hands in the water hahaha.

Half of the group were already resting inside our van when we arrived at the starting point. We changed our clothes and went on our way... a dead end road. We took a wrong turn. But Ruth said the view is familiar. The resort was Puerto Azul, Ruth's frequent resort go-to place. After taking lots of photos, we went to another sidetrip to Kaybiang tunnel. It is apparently the longest underground highway tunnel at 300 meters which shortens the travel time to Nasugbu, Batangas.

Puerto Azul!
But we were tired and didn't go out of the van, unfortunately. Ivy's office mate did, however, took a photo at the center of tunnel. The trip back to Manila was around 2 hours, but it didn't matter to us anymore as everyone fell asleep on the way back to Gil Puyat.

Even though I was hesitant at first and regretted climbing that mountain, I feel like opportunities like these should not be missed. Opportunities of traveling with friends, doing new things, stepping out of your comfort zone and all of those cliche things. Of course my body ached for days, got sunburnt, and spent a lot preparing for the trip, but it was worth it. Money and time shouldn't be an issue. In Filipino terms, "Pag gusto may paraan, pag ayaw may dahilan."

Maybe in the future, us six could do something like this together. Just don't count me in on another whole day hike. :P

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