Mt Mariveles via Paniquian River: A training climb for K2D

Mt Mariveles via Paniquian River: A training climb for K2D

Mt Mariveles via Paniquian River: A training climb for K2D

By: Marife Bacate

Green Mountain Tribe (GMT) chose Mount Mariveles (1,130+ MASL) for its training climb on the 10th of July 2016. This mountain range in Bataan is one of the more common climbing destinations two to three hours north of Manila. The climb is the first of a series of training climbs scheduled by GMT in preparation for traversing (reversely) two of the high elevations peaks of Bukidnon’s Kitanglad Mountain Range,

A section of the Paniquian River Trail

Moun Kitanglad (2,899+ MASL) and Mount Dulang-Dulang (2,938+ MASL). Being a training climb, the group chose a less common route—ascend via Paniquian River Trail and descend via Papaya River Trail. The loop or rosary trail (jump-off and exit points are both in Brgy. Alas-Asin) has a terrain more challenging than the traditional back-trail route via Papaya River. It requires at least an hour (on a good day) of river trekking, and several hours of rock and boulder scrambling, traversing walls of hardened lava, and scaling continuously steep slopes. The mountain is chosen strategically for the training partly for its volcanic terrain (it is a stratovulcano), which has some similarities to the terrain of Kitanglad Mountain Ranges (Mount Kitanglad is also a volcano).

Whether or not it is providential for the team, we ended hiking on less than ideal conditions. Bago pa man dumating ang araw ng aming akyat isang bagyo na ang dumaan at ilang araw ng hindi sumisilip si haring-araw. The tropical storm Nepartak (christened by PAG-ASA as “Butchoy”) entered the PAR on July 4 the week of the climb. The storm did not landfall and left the PAR by July 8 but its tail pulled in monsoon rains (hanging habagat) bringing in rainstorms all over Luzon until the weekend. Evening prior to the climb date, the sky cleared but still with intermittent rainfall in Manila. In Mariveles, local contacts reported improved weather with the rivers now safe for crossing. The team lead then decided to proceed with the climb and members were instructed to prepare accordingly—safety gears for river crossing, protection from possibly torrid rains, the wind, and the cold.

Given the weather condition for the day, we had quite an unforgettable experience, a climb more challenging than expected that tested everyone’s patience, humor, and endurance. The climb turned out far different from what one would have had experienced on a clear summer day (which GMT had in the summer of 2014 when it last scaled Mt Mariveles using the same route).

The assembly, travel to the JOP, and members of the team

Our team was comprised of 15 people: 8 GMT members, 6 ongoing applicants, and a guest. Ceejay, founder of GMT, is the team lead. Among the group are GMT members Arjedh (middle), Ryan (middle), MJ (middle/medic), Hubert (lead/middle), Dan (lead/middle), Erwin (tail), and Joko (sweeper). The rest are GMT applicants Rhynald (lead), Mimi (lead), Mabel (lead), Donna (lead/middle), Jerome (middle), Marife (middle), and a guest, Nas (middle).

Assembly time was 0130 HRS at Robinson’s Pioneer. A few people arrived late but our transportation, a 15-seater van, arrived much later at 0215 HRS.

(Jerome) Since nalate ang service namin di na nasunod ang I.T namin (itinerary).

(Marife): My mindset from the beginning was excitement with some trepidation. I haven’t been in the wild for a while and my last climb was on a sunny day. I was doubtful how well my body and mind would  perform under uncertain conditions in dangerous trails. Still, I looked forward to the climb with great anticipation and tried to simulate the trail in my mind as I remembered it from two years ago. 

(Mabel): Ako po hindi ako masyado naexcite.. pinangunahan ako ng kaba ko..first time ko ulit aakyat ng bundok after 2years at ang mga kasama ko pa eh…mga batak ang katawan..to the highest level ang anxiety ko, baka di ako makasabay 😯  but then, tinuloy ko sabi ko nalang sa sarili ko..pano ko malalaman kung hindi ko susubukan.. 💪💪

(Donna) Mt. Mariveles via Paniquian trail was my first “major” climb and the second mountain I conquered since I started climbing. I was excited and anxious at the same time because I didn’t know what to expect from a major climb.

When the van arrived, the driver apologized for being late and we had a bit of fun with him in return. At dahil may parusa ang late, konting kembot po muna manong driver! He received a loud bout of laughter for his little dance. We left Manila at 0230 HRS.

(Mabel) Sa kasamaang palad, hindi po kami nakatulog dahil sa sobrang alog ng katawan namin sa sasakyan.. (nasa bandang dulo po kasi kami nakaupo) At.. eto pa.. lumagpas po kami ng Brgy. Alas-asin..

(Jerome) Sa biyahe tulog lahat bukod kay sir Joko dahil sya ang katabi ng driver. Pagdating sa Bataan medyo naligaw pa kami pero ok lang yun ahahahah.. 

We arrived at the barangay hall of Brgy. Alas-Asin at 0500 HRS (sa wakas!). Everyone unloaded, unwound, and stretched a bit upon arrival. After exchanges between Ceejay and the Brgy officer about logistics (registration and radio frequency for emergency calls and updates), we re-packed our bags (we left our change of clothes and toiletries at the van) and walked towards some turo-turo (point-point) by the road for breakfast and take-out lunch.

(Jerome) Sa barangay dun namin na meet ang aming malupit na guide dun na din kami nag-register. Kumain kami ng umagahan bumili na din ng tanghalian.

It was already dawn but still dark and the air heavy with impending rain. We loaded once more into the van after breakfast and traveled a few meters towards a house where we would eventually go back to for bathing upon descent. A sudden torrent of rain accompanied us during this short ride.

(Jerome) Eto na ang start trek na bumuhos ang ulan sapagkat kakatapos lang bagyo di namin inalintana ang ulan dahil kami ay malalakas (joke).

JOP to Junction

After arriving at the JOP, the rain let up to a light drizzle. We assembled underneath the shelter of a sari-sari store where Ceejay gave a few words of introduction, some precautionary reminders, an overview of the route, where we already were in the IT, and a warm welcome to our sole guest—Nas, a Nepalese medical intern. MJ led the prayer, after which, we started trekking around 0600 HRS. The drizzle dwindled by the time we embarked with the sky already shrouded with a rather somber and gloomy daylight. The usually green and bright (on a sunny day) vista of grasslands that one would pass through after moving past the residential houses looked subdued, but no less refreshing under the rain-heavy clouded skies. The fresh scent of grass, rain-drenched soil and mud was a welcome change from the polluted city air we left hours ago.

(Donna) It started out with a tummy ache where I felt like puking (I don’t know if I’m just nervous or I’m just nervous.. haha!) but after taking a pill, all is well. 

The first part of this segment of the climb is a wide unpaved road with mostly grasslands, shrubs and copse on both sides.

We soon entered a wide footpath surrounded by tall trees with branches arching over the road

We took a 10-minute break at a house of an old couple with a small store where we registered. The couple asked about the group and the route we would be taking, etc.

(Jerome) Jump off kina nanay cording register ulit at nagbigay ng konting tulong sa kanila, konting pahinga at larga na ulit.

Makeshift benches in front of the house served as resting place for hikers who are either about to enter or just exiting the forest, with a wall over it overlaid with banners left by groups who have climbed the mountain over the years. (From the Left: Hubert, MJ, Joms, and Ryan)

We entered the forest with the trail overgrown with thickets. The trail was slippery from the continuous rain over the past week and the air was heavily humid. Some of us had to peel off our extra layers (rain jackets).

The route was rolling for the most part with the only challenge being hiking over fallen logs, ducking low-lying branches, climbing slippery slopes, and getting through thickets of bushes and shrubs, many of which have fine bristles and spikes that scratch at our faces and arms and snag at our clothes.

We scaled a short assault climb before reaching the first view deck or ridge where we did our first compression stop about 25-30 minutes after entering the forest. The lead group reached it a little past 0700 HRS with the tail 13 minutes behind. We made good progress at the beginning of the climb.

At the ridge, the whole team had a few laughs as new arrivals were quizzed as to whether they prefer a kilo of grass or a kilo of stones to carry during the climb. Some answered a kilo of grass and one sensing it a trick question tried to dodge by answering a kilo of stones. Of course we all know how it came to be a trick question. (From the left: Ceejay, Dan, Arjhed, Hubert, and MJ)

After a few more banters, we continued towards the ever-slippery and wet slope (angled about 40-50 degrees) a few hundred meters just before the junction. This muddy steep section is particularly challenging especially for those without trekking poles or shoes with good traction as there is barely anything to hold on to except for low growing bushes and weeds.

(Marife) I had my first slip here. My left leg skidded down and didn’t stop until I was at an awkward full and deep lunge position. I thought I was about to do a full split as my left leg continued to slide down. Thankfully, my left foot found some traction and I pulled on to some weeds by the side to recover. Everyone would eventually mud-board (ala surfboard) on the way down on this same slope.

A few minutes later, the lead reached the junction.

The trail forked with one path leading to the Papaya River (right route) and the other to the Paniquian River (left route).

We rested here for 15 minutes until everyone assembled. {Ceejay called one of the islands some funny name I can’t quite recall, was it umbok-umbok?}

The sight in this view deck is the only clearing the team would ever see the whole duration of the climb.

Behind us is the summit hidden behind a thick haze of fog.

(Marife) We ate some snacks and trail food while waiting. Somebody boasted having brought apples and Jom showed-off his ridiculously large apple. Ceejay shared his homemade trail mix with its ovaltinees. I brought two large avocadoes and Mangyan wild honey. I did not bring any other trail food, mistakenly assuming that the climb won’t last too long. How wrong I’d be proven soon and much grateful for Ceejay’s trail mix towards the end of the trek.

Junction to Sllaj Falls (River Trekking)

We proceeded to trek briefly across tall cogon grasses (someone jokingly referred to them as tanglad or lemon grass).

We had to cover our faces with our arms as the blades of the grasses could easily slice through the skin. (Inset: MJ)

Soon enough we moved into the forest once more.

The sides of the trails here were less populated with thickets.

There were a couple of stretches of steep slopes to navigate interspersed with climbing over rocks and boulders and through narrow ledges. The whole trail was shaded under the thick coverage of the forest’s foliage

Throughout this climb, we only saw once the sun’s rays penetrating the foliage from above. It was brief but it was a lovely sight.

The sunlight brought a good change of mood, if ever so briefly.

(Marife) At this segment of the climb, MJ is in front of me — the group’s default medic who set a moderate pace for the middle team. Jom was behind me followed by Dan, and Hubert, two GMT members and our seniors. Ryan and Nas are right behind them. Arjedh moved forward and backward in the middle team: he overtakes and leads the middle team whenever we become uncertain of the trail.

The team regrouped only once prior to reaching the first river crossing. The distance of 13-15 minutes between the lead and tail was maintained throughout this segment of the climb.

Behold the team lead! (From the Left: Ceejay, Manong Guide behind Ceejay, Rynald, and Donna)

A few minutes after we resumed trekking from where we assembled and not too far from the river, the middle group got lost where a huge fallen-over log blocked the trail. We were sidetracked and went off to another trail. MJ learned we were on the wrong trail when she encountered spider webbings. The ground bear no trail marks of hikers that could have passed. Arjedh went ahead to check if there really was a trail. Once Joko caught up with the middle group still looking for the trail, he radioed Ceejay for directions. The middle group then backtracked towards Joko, a good 10 meters away, where the obstructed trail was.

Once back on trail, we trekked towards the top of a crag overlooking the river

Ceejay and the guide had by then set-up safety lines for people’s passage towards the bank of the river.

(Jerome) Lakad lang lakad hanggang sa matunton namin ang unang ilog kung saan kami dadaan. 

The river itself was a beautiful sight to behold.

The current was fast and raging and the water level way higher than I remember from the summer a couple of years ago. (I remember there was an emerald-green pool nearby the small falls, unlike the dark pool of fast moving waters we were watching).

 

Against the river was the thick dark green foliage of the forest and below was the strong gush of the river falling off.

Ceejay first attempted crossing the river without safety lines to test the current and decided it was too dangerous for the rest to cross it unassisted. Some participants are still inexperienced in river crossing. So he, the guide, and Rhynald set up the safety lines.

The team waiting for the safety lines being set-up.

 

Prior to wading over the other side, Ceejay gave a short course on river crossing.

All were instructed to loosen the straps that secure our backpacks to our bodies.

We have to face the current while crossing and hold on to the rope with our hands.

Only one person was allowed to cross each time, so the whole process took a while.

(Jerome) Nag set-up si master ceejay ng tali katuwang ang aming guide at si idol rhynald.  Habang ako’y tumatawid sa ilog kabado ako dahil pag tinangay ako ng tubig (wala ng pogi joke) dahil di ako marunong lumangoy at eto ang magiging katapusan ko pero ayaw ko mangyari sakin yun kaya lakas loob kong sinuong ang ilog at success buhay ako ahahaha… Binagtas namin ang ilog at maraming pang ilog kaming dinaanan.

 It took us about 4 hours to trek upstream the Paniquian River. There were 5 river crossings with safety lines set up.

First river crossing with safety lines.

Second river crossing with safety lines

Third river crossing with safety lines.

The TL testing the waters’ current…kaso nakita may kumukuha ng picture so pose muna!

Ceejay and Arjedh setting up safety lines for the fourth time.

Fourth river crossing with safety lines with the ever-dependable sweep the last to cross.

The fifth and last river crossing with safety lines set-up.

And an additional two to four more river crossings without safety lines.

First river crossing without safety lines

Sometimes you really need to hold hands to get through the river 😛

We had to climb up and down a cliff at one section of the river that cannot be crossed safely.

A view of the river from a cliff.

And rappel a 5-meter drop after.

Since the setting up of the safety lines took about 10-20 minutes each time, the five river crossings and rappelling alone took about 1.5 to 2 hours. It then took us another 2 hours hiking and scrambling over rocks and boulders along and across the river. Here are some outtakes of kulitan blues during the river trekking:

Here are some outtakes of kulitan blues during the river trekking:

Pa cute moments

Weewee moment?!

Drama effect moment

Our guide

(Marife) I for one had loads of fun during the river trekking, even during the waiting hours. Rock and boulders on rivers are my favorite terrains. There simply is a joy at finding the right rock to move on to. It takes some instinct and judgment to know in one look or feel underneath the sole of the feet whether a rock or boulder is safe to step on, how much weight a particular rock could hold or whether to use it only as a quick stepping stone. I love the sense of balance-imbalance-balance, as sometimes the only way to move to the next position is to become off balance then catching your body just in time on the next move. Moving among rocks and boulders in the fastest way I could without jeopardizing my safety has always given me the same sense I had with dancing–freedom, movement, space, joy, and thrill. 

We could not proceed all the way upstream to see the majestic Sllaj Falls because of the high waters and strong current. It was too dangerous.

By 1300 HRS, we went back to a wide area we just passed by near the river to eat lunch.

(Jerome) Sa gitna ng aming paglalakbay nakaramdam kami ng gutom at kumain kami ng tanghalian.

The area also happen to be at the foot of the starting point of the Papica Jerez Boulder Trail and Wall.  The rain had started long way back by this time. Everyone was soaked wet from the river trekking and the continuous drizzle or outright rainfall. It was noon but it was as dark as dusk within the forest and the temperature had dropped much lower. We did not tarry long and started preparing to scale the side of the mountain towards the Papica Jerez Boulder Trail.

(Jerome) Habang nagpapahinga hinanap ko ang aming dadaanan pero di ko nakita tinanong ko ang aming guide kung saan at tinuro nya ang halos 70-80 degree angle na aming dadaanan. Sa pag iisip ko pano namin dadaanan yun? Mabato at parang hindi talaga daanan. Na una ang aming guide at ayun nga talagang dun ang aming daan. Puro paahon na maputek at maugat.

Papica Jerez Trail, Streams, Magellan Trail, Japanese Garden to Mariveles Peak

This segment of the climb began with a straight up 75-degree slope before one goes to the right along the mountainside’s ledges. The rough terrains were mostly loose rough stones and slabs of basaltic igneous rocks.

At some points, the passages we scrambled over were so narrow we have to squeeze through. Some cuts of slabs of rocks and boulders were positioned precariously that we had to be careful not to rely on them too much especially those that moved when stepped on.

There were sections where we had to move as quickly and cautiously as some of the boulders could give way anytime.

The pace slowed down and Ceejay made sure we remained closely intact during this section of the climb.

Another compression stop

Arrival of the tail during the compression stop.

What follows is a series of traversing, clambering and scaling basaltic rocks and boulders, portions of which have passages for water – the Carmi Stream and Lorraine-Lee Stream.

We next assaulted long stretches of continuous steep slopes of the Magellan Trail. The terrain was slippery and many of the surrounding shrubs have bristles and sharp spikes, which we were careful to avoid.

Except for one, we did not have trekking poles and relied mostly on roots, branches, vines, shrubs, and the trees for balance and support in hoisting ourselves up or to prevent us from slipping.

A few times, rocks fell, loosened by climbers ahead of us. Some hikers call this section the “uphell” climb for its never-ending steep slippery terrain with the rolling or flat grounds far in between the slopes. But since our pace had slowed down tremendously and having had to rest many times along the trail, the climb was not as painful or as demanding to our lungs.

We were reminded to keep the mandatory 1-meter distance apart from the next climber.

While waiting for the tail…

(Marife) At one time, Ceejay called down for loose rocks falling but I was in deep reverie that the rocks already passed me before I reacted. The rocks missed me by a mere few inches. This jarred me out of my distracted attention to become more alert on the trail. It was a good reminder to make the effort never to be complacent on the trail.

In this trail, the tail got lost once and the lead went off-trail once. At both times, our guide went back for the tail. Whenever the lead sensed that the tail was too far (beyond 100 meters) or lost, the whole team stopped wherever they were on the trail to wait for the tail to be in sight of the lead. The waiting time took about 15 to 20 minutes. The temperature was much lower by this time as we have gained elevation. We felt the cold after five minutes of rest. This, was also a part of the training.

By the time we reached the Magellan campsite, we rested and waited for the tail. Heavy rain poured on us.

Half of the team sought shelter under the biggest tree in the middle of the campsite; others were blessed with Jom’s umbrella.

Some of us did not bring any rain jacket or windbreaker for added protection from the cold and rain. We were reminded at this juncture that whenever we did not move and stayed too long on the trail exposed to the elements, hypothermia could soon become a serious threat. We waited here for about 15 to 20 minutes.

A compression stop with the lead (shown inset), together with the team, waiting for the tail.

Once the tail arrived, we continued the assault towards the Japanese garden, located one stretch below the Mt. Mariveles Summit.

(Donna)The 5-8 hours of walking towards the summit was fine and I enjoyed every minute of it especially the river crossing and the “Tarzan” stuff (rappelling), I was so pumped up that I didn’t realized that I was with the lead team and I didn’t expect that it will cost me a lot of trouble as the walking pursue. I felt my knees were trembling probably because of the cold weather and exhaustion as we head towards the Japanese Garden, and if it wasn’t for Joms cheering me up with encouraging words, I wouldn’t make it and gave up (thanks Joms! Iba ka! Haha :D). Rested for a few minutes while in the garden and had some snacks where I gained some energy for the final assault. Reaching the summit was a relief and very fulfilling in all aspects.

We regrouped once at a small saddle 45 minutes from the summit. (From the left: Arjhed, Donna, Dan, Rhynald, Mimi, Mabel, Marife, Ryan, MJ and Hubert)

The terrain considerably narrowed and  changed to having more and bigger rocks and boulders as we gained altitude.

Some would have to scramble and crawl over boulders higher than their knees.

The last stretch of the assault towards the garden brought us out to the open air.

There was no clearing since blankets of fogs surrounded us.

Nevertheless, the sight was breathtaking.

And the strong, cold breeze revived our energy. The sight of dwarfed plants around the trails indicated that we were nearing the summit.

This section took each of us about 15 to 20 minutes to climb. We reached the Japanese garden where everyone took another break and ate some snacks while waiting for Erwin and Joko to arrive.

After their arrival and a short break, we commenced with the final assault to the summit. Gusts of winds met us during the ascent on the open air. The wind was so cold it made the lead shouting at the top of his lungs.

As expected, there was no clearing at the summit and so we did not stay too long on it.

(Jerome) Pa summit na kami inantay namin ang iba naming kasama para sabay sabay kami. Summit malamig mahamog at medyo maulan. Walang clearing.

The lead team preparing to descend after giving sets of instruction to the mid team.

After a few photos were taken, the middle group went after the lead and started descending towards Tarak Ridge. Trail signs were left by the middle team for the tail as instructed by the lead.

(Rhynald) Ascending Mt. Mariveles via Paniquian trail tested not only my physical capacities but it also tested my psychological and mental limitations. Yes for me trekking the Paniquian trail was not easy because of the steep trail and unlimited assaults going to the summit, the very long trail which requires a couple of hours walk, and the river crossing that you have to undergo which is more difficult to cross on rainy days especially during our climb that there was a tropical depression affecting Bataan.

Descent to JOP: (Tarak Ridge-Papaya River-Junction-JOP)

During the descent, the team was divided into three groups. The lead has 9 members, the first four – Ceejay, Hubert, Marife and Rhynald, reached JOP around 1920 with the other 5—Arjhed, Mimi, Mabel, Nas, and Ryan—arriving around 2000. The middle group comprising of Jerome, Dan, MJ, and Donna arrived around 2100 and the tail—Erwin and Joko—arrived at 0000.

Lead Team:

From the peak, the descent consisted of scrambling down rocks and boulders holding on to and swinging on tree branches and roots for support slipping down short slopes towards Tarak Ridge.

A short pause at Tarak Ridge.

Past Tarak Ridge is a steep descent on boulders, rocks and large roots of trees. The terrain begins to be rolling upon reaching the foot of that steep descent. We crossed multiple river beds along the Papaya River Trail and left many trail signs for the middle and tail groups.

The lead team regrouped thrice during the descent from the Tarak Ridge, once before reaching Papaya River, at the Papaya River, and at the junction where the route forked to the Paniquian River Trail and Papaya River Trail. We reached the junction at dusk.

(Marife) One unforgettable moment during the descent from the junction back to the JOP is the mudslide. For some reason the TL made that section without much slipping. Hubert made good use of his trekking pole. I, on the other hand, just slid all the way down until Hubert stopped me with his trekking pole. It must have been quite a ghastly sight. Nevertheless, it was fun.

(Mabel) Enjoy ang mud at unlimited slide ng mga nasa mid..😂😂 sa sobrang dulas na ng trail.. Masakit pero sa bawat bagsak patuloy parin sa pagbangon! It was fun and naenjoy talaga kahit sobrang pagod-sa sobrang daming “woosshh bluggg!” (tunog ng pagbagsak) followed by the infectious laughter ng nadulas mismo.. 😂😂😛😛

(Rhynald) The descend part is what really tested me because by this time I already felt my body being tired, and felt some pain in my body especially in my knee. I already felt the cold going inside my nerves because my clothes were already wet for a couple of hours. Despite all of that I must persevere, go on and finish the climb. “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” ― Ed ViestursNo Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks

It took us 30-45 minutes to reach the old couple’s house where the rain poured on us midway. We took turns cleaning off ourselves some of the mud from the mudslide while Ceejay spoke to the old man of the house and logged out at their registry book. We proceeded to walk towards the JOP. It was just the four of us this time with the half of the lead 30 minutes behind. Nobody spoke, until Ceejay saw one of his nemesis — a huge frog. Kokak! We reached the sari-sari store at the jump-off past 7 pm and immediately asked for hot noodles and sweets. We washed up, ate, packed up and rested while we waited for the rest of the team, praying all are safe.

Middle Team account:

(Jerome) Na una na ang aming ibang grupo bumaba. At naiwan kami nila dona at mam mj. Pababa ng summit lakas ng hangin hehehe pwede kang matangay kung pabebe ka. Lakad kami hanggang sa marating namin ang papaya river. Dito ko ineexpect na malapit na kami pero hindi papala. Tuloy ang aming lakad maulan mahangin malamig at madalim. Pagdating namin sa jumpoff nabuhayan na kami ng pag-asa ahahaha.. Lakad ulit hanggang sa marating namin kung saan naghihintay ang aming ibang kasama. Kinuha ko to ng 15hours dapat mas mabilis pa sana ahahahah..

(Donna) The crazy part for me or maybe for the three of us (Joms and ma’am MJ) was returning to the JOP where the trail was never ending, it look the same and we felt like we’re lost. We took the descent an hour behind the mid team just to make sure that our knees are in good shape (because we all have a history of knee injury). I experienced what Sir Joko mentioned before the climb, the “Pilot mode”. I remember falling asleep while walking and it’s all thanks to the Apple that joms’ gave that restored our energy to make the final stretch to the JOP.

Tail account:

Only two people were left at the tail, Erwin and Joko, both are a couple of hours apart from the middle team.

(This narrative is based on the account by the sweep, Joko) At one point during the descent, Erwin laid down to rest but woke up chilled. Joko, who was sweeping him was ahead Erwin waiting at a junction. Just when Joko was wondering what taking Erwin so long, Erwin gave three whistle blasts — an SOS. Joko went back for him and saw him nearing hypothermia. He asked Erwin to take off his wet clothing and keep only his rain jacket to lessen the cold. They proceeded to walk towards the JOP, which must have been past 2200 HRS, amounting to 16 hours of exposure on the trail.

Back at the van, Ceejay tried to reach Joko via the radio as soon as he arrived but the frequency could not reach the tail. He inferred they were too far or the battery of the radio has gone dead. But Ceejay continued to monitor. The team was ready anytime if the need for rescue is needed, but praying they would not have to. Joko and Erwin from the tail reached the van just before midnight. Joko recounted that he reached his limits during the long descent but he made persevered with Erwin and arrived safely to where the rest of the team were waiting for them. Kudos to the two for having endured the 18 hours of exposure on the trail.

Here are some summary reflections of Rhynald and Donna on their experience

(Rhynald) “Nakaka-excite, nakakakaba, nakakamangha, nakakapang-nginig, pero masaya! This is how I describe our climb at Mt. Mariveles via Paniquian river major day hike! Yes “nakaka-excite” because it was my first time in that place. What makes it more exciting is knowing that we are going to explore the Paniquian trail which offers a challenging river crossing experience. This trail is not the usual way that most hikers choose in climbing Mt. Mariveles.  “Nakakakaba” because that time tropical depression Butchoy is still affecting Bataan. Although the local guides of Barangay Alas-asin said that the weather was okay prior to our climb and they allowed us to have our trek and river crossing at the Paniquian trail. It’s been raining hard while we are still on our way to Bataan that’s why I’m worried because anytime there might be a flash flood while we were river crossing. Though there’s nothing to worry because this climb is organized by GMT. I’ve been joining their climbs for the past years and I can say that they won’t go to a climb unprepared. We have a rope with us so that we can setup a safety line whenever it’s needed.  And the officers of the team keep on reminding us on the proper things to do during the climb especially during river crossing.  “Nakakamangha” because despite of the weather condition and the thick fog, I can still see the beauty of nature. Even more beautiful because of the fog effect. And you’ll appreciate the river more during rainy season especially the falls. We are unfortunate that we’re not able to go near the Sllaj Falls because of the strong current and deep water, but still we can see the falls at a distance to appreciate its beauty. “Nakakapanginig” because we were already welcomed by the rain since the start of the hike until we’ve returned at the JOP at night.  I’m very grateful that I’ve been a part of this climb because I was able to help on actual setting of a safety line for the river crossing. Thanks for the opportunity! I know how to tie some of the knots but it’s really different if you’re doing it on an actual scenario.”

(DonnaOverall experience was awesome and memorable; I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. The physical, mental and emotional torture (torture talaga?! haha) for me was all worth it. Exploring mother earth is addicting, and I’m sure that this won’t be the last. Thank you GMT and Kudos to team itlog!

Going Home

The team left Brgy Alas-Asin past midnight and arrived in Manila past 0300 HRS.

(Jerome) Pa uwi lahat tulog sa biyahe pagod.

The end.

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