(3,385 feet above sea level)
An inactive stratovolcano located between the town of Arayat and Magalang in Pampanga.
A climb prior joining the Balloon Festival in Angeles City. We hopped a bus (Victory Bus - Pasay) going to Pampanga but accidentally missed our 2.30am trip due to some schedule mishap. We left Manila at around 4.00am and our supposed to be drop off was SM San Fernando but due to miscommunication with the Bus conductor we missed SM and dropped ourselves off to a nearby Chowking Store.
Tricycles were all lined up waiting for some passengers then a driver offered his tricycle to bring us to the Jump Off point (Brgy. Ayala). There were haggles for fare and we ended up paying Php 400.00 for 3 people per tricycle.
Going to Brgy. Ayala possibly covers at least an hour due distance. We headed to the Brgy. Hall for registration and hire a guide if available, however the Office was closed and only opens at 8.00am. The group decided to pursue the climb without any guide at all.
5 of us were first timers for Mt. Arayat so we solely put our fate to 1 member, hopes as high as Mt. Arayat if she can still remember the trek.
We started the trek around 7.00am hoping to finish the entire traverse before 5.00pm to catch the last Balloon Fest Show for that day in Angeles, Pampanga.
Heading to 32nd Company Police Headquarters (turn right) for registration took us for about 20 mins. We registered and was assisted by Police Arenas. Kunting chitchat, then sabi ni P. Arenas na aakyat siya, kasama ng dalawa pa nyang kasama, sa summit kasi may office din sila sa taas. Naging kampati ako nung narinig ko yun, knowing that may mga NPAs sa lugar.
Headed back to the main road....
The project is promising for devotees and I took my chance to posed at Station 1, the only station "fully-furnished" at that time.
We exchanged stories during the hike at buti nalang nakasabay namin sila because the trails going up was not "Hiker-Friendly", direction wise, because of diversions. The signs that will guide you through were the Direction Post (Green painted Signs) but the distance from each post were to far that in between path you'll might get lost. By the way, may water source recorded sa area.
Sad to say, the trail was so dirty at that time. Maraming basura (candy and food wrappers even plastic bottles) na nagkalat. P. Arenas mentioned that many college students hiked and left trash anywhere.
I hope a group of mountaineers will conduct a CleanUp drive for Mt. Arayat.
Aside sa basura, maraming vandals too. Government should impose a strict ruling just like other mountains to preserve its beauty.
Because of the view, we lost track of time. We stayed at White Rock for an hour..... Totally forgot that Mam Angeline, Police Aranas and Company were waiting sa may trail while the 5 of us were savoring the moments and busy clicking those cameras.
Sometimes Photo Ops are disadvantage, it will eat your time and will destroy the Itinerary, guilty?.... hehehe.
At last our clue was right in front of us.... Rope! By 12:00pm we reached Sinukuan Peak. A Military Base camp was established. We took our lunch in a small Nipa Hut, rested for an hour and took some Photo Ops.
We gave thanks to the Policemen and to the mountaineer (I forgot to ask his name). This time we were on our own. Going down was very hard, unang baba palang 90 degrees slope na kaagad.... the roots were our friends at that time. There was a portion wherein we got lost for a moment. Although we saw the blue ribbons and other colored knots tied, followed them dearly and still we got lost.
Note, there was this portion na may two paths (left and right). Facing a Bamboo shrub, follow the one to your left, a blue ribbon is present then ahead you will see boulders... at the top of that boulders you will see a cave.... DO NOT CLIMB on these boulders.
Just below the boulders you will see a yellow ribbon (a rope, same sa picture) tied. Follow it then to your left another set of boulders. Previous mountaineers left some signs here, not ribbons nor rope, rocks for trail signs. It took us minutes to find it since we were looking for ribbons. About 2 rock trail signs before seeing the next knot.
The trail was nowhere to be found. It was like a dead end.... Thanks to the yellow knot...we were relieved.... but wait.... another 90degree going down. I have to tighten my backpack and secure my trek pole properly because one false move...... i'll be "rolling in the deep".
We managed to go down successfully.
What was funny was that, we came across to a portion wherein we need to do a 4-Wheel drive to reach the top portion. We keep on shouting, "Bato" to signal the person below that a lose rock or pebbles rolling and for her to avoid it. I even cracked a joke "Sana walang sisigaw na TAOoooooo!!!" The training I got during the Rock Climbing Activity a week before this climb was indeed helpful. Handholds and Footholds were needed. According to a blog I read it was about 50 meters accent, good thing we conquered that portion safely.
What made it funny? "The Landslide" was not totally "Landslide". My understanding of landslide is that it is a portion consisting of lose rocks.... Soil eroded. The Landslide mentioned here was not that type, although it was dangerous but still you can manage to do 4-wheel drive going up, roots and branches were present yet you need to be careful and make sure you are grabbing the stable ones.
We reached Peak 1 (according to other blogs) camp site around past 3.00pm. To your right (a yellow ribbon) is the trail going down while ahead is the trail going to a view deck.
We headed to the view deck, rested for a while and again did not missed the Photo Ops. The site was indeed amazing, overlooking the Central Luzon plain, rice fields and Pampanga River. Awesome!
We wanted to look for a resort for us to "clean up" but because we were very hungry and it was already past 5:00pm, We agreed not to pursue the Balloon Fest plan, so we hired a tricycle going to Bayan for 25 pesos per person. Took a jeepney ride to SM San Fernando, then had our Dinner @ Sbarro. Wala ng gana para maghanap pa ng resort para makapagpahinga, the only option we found was SOGO, it was just in front of SM San Fernando. Easy access for buses and jeepneys kaya pinili nalang namin to
Mam Sikirit, as well as the rest of the group, still wanted to go to Angeles City to join the last day of the Balloon Fest the next day, and the rest of the StormChaser ay maghihintay sa kanila on the said event. However, I wanted to be at home after the climb so I took a bath then headed back to SM San Fernando and waited for a bus going to back to Manila.
Another week ended.... another summit reached..... another set pictures kept.....another experience shared.