C7 Pico de Loro Dayhike Traverse (Getting Lost)
May 21, 2011
The Parrot’s Beak. That’s me at the top.
Pico de Loro is one of the most climbed mountains in the Philippines but is almost unknown to non-mountaineers except those living in Cavite or those who have heard of Hamilo Coast development of the SM Group. It is one of the most beautiful mountains I’ve climbed (in addition to Pulag and Maculot) and this beauty and the fact that it’s relatively near Metro Manila makes this a popular weekend climb destination.
I’ve gotten confidence in tackling mountains without a guide (I’ve done Maculot and Batulao without guides and we were not lost). However, this is not without preparation. Before I did Maculot, Batulao and Pico de Loro, I’ve read and researched about these mountains and pored over the articles and comments in Pinoy Mountaineer as well as other sites I could find.
A newly shaved and very red me at the DENR station.
After Maculot, Pulag and two Batulao climbs, I was on a roll and decided on climbing Pico de Loro again with my friend Felix.
To get to Pico de Loro, I met Felix in Pasay Rotonda and we waited for a bus bound for Ternate, Maragondon. From the bus terminal in Ternate, we hired a tricycle to take us to the DENR Office in Magnetic Hill (that is after buying our packed lunch). The tricycle costs Php150 (for two persons) and there is a Php20 (each person) registration at the DENR office.
From the DENR office, it is a five-minute trek back (on the road) to reach the trail jump off. From there, there is an immediate ascent, then level trekking and finally a descent until you reach Base Camp 1 in 45 minutes.
Langka (jackfruit) just a little past Base Camp 1.
From Base Camp 1 it is just a few minutes walk to Alibangbang Park. At that point, I thought to myself that Pico is an easy climb. In Alibangbang, there are signboards showing the waterfalls (the left) and the summit (to the right). Felix and I checked the waterfalls (about 15 minutes from that point) but since it was summer, the falls was dry and what remained of the basin below looks more like a pond where carabaos bath (small, shallow, muddy). We went back to Alibangbang to continue our quest for the summit.
We saw Gideon Lasco (author of the Pinoy Mountaineer website) with Agot Isidro (the actress).
It was just up down level up down climb. However, just past Alibangbang is where the challenge begins – non-stop continuous ascent. And I mean continuous ascent, it is lucky if there is a ten-step level trek from that point on.
It was very hot despite the tree cover since there is hardly any wind blowing and the sun was high. I was drenched in sweat (hence, the change in shirt).
At the campsite, the peak behind me is the summit and behind that, the monolith or beak.
It only got cooler (and the trail more level) as we got near the campsite. At the campsite, we rested for a bit and climbed to the summit where we had our lunch. It was not a pleasant lunch as there were many small insects flying around.
There were a few people on the beak at the time we were eating lunch. By the time we finished eating lunch, they had all gone back to the campsite (or gone down the mountain) so that when I climbed the beak, I was alone. (Felix stayed at the summit.)
On the way to the beak.
Climbing the beak is not as hard as it seems as there is a way up (on the right side of the beak). However, it’s not easy as I had to wedge myself in the cracks of the rock. Thankfully, at the time there was still a rope to hang on.
I’m on top of ….. well, just on top of the beak. Forever alone. That’s a bird on the left side of the picture.
Going down is much harder than going up as I cannot see the footholds and I just had to extend my foot and hang on for dear life. I momentarily lost my hold on the rope! Thank God I did not fall.
Our plan was for a traverse but I did not know where the traverse trail begins. We went back to the campsite and rested. Fortunately, Dan and Noy who I climbed with in Arayat during my first hike arrived (didn’t know they were going to Pico) and I was able to ask where the traverse trail is.
Felix at the foot of the beak.
We also met a group of four (Brenda and four guys – forgot their names) and they were also doing a traverse and didn’t know the trail either.
We decided to join together and make our way to Nasugbu.
Dan said that the traverse trail is on the right side of the beak. After some searching, I finally found it and we started the steep descent that passes through trees, bamboo, grass and other plants.
The traverse trail (left). Our on-the-spot companions (right).
Pinoy Mountaineer’s itinerary for a traverse trail indicates that from the summit, the exit in Nasugbu would be just about 2 hours of trekking. We have been walking for more than 2 hours and it seems we are not getting any nearer any sort of settlement or sign of an exit.
We walked and walked and run out of water until we found a mango tree laden with ripe and almost ripe fruit! Manna from heaven.
A view of Pico’s summit from the farmlands of Sitio Kumbento.
We finally saw some houses and requested for water. We also gave the kids some of our snacks.
It was already dark when we reached the houses. The residents said that the nearest public transport to Nasugbu is more than an hour’s walk away as the vehicles from there have rested for the night. We were forced to rent a jeepney to take us to Nasugbu (at a total cost of Php1000) and we asked the driver to take a bath at their house (outside of their house at an artesian well).
The jeepney ride from Sitio Kumbento to the town of Nasugbu took more than an hour (yes, it’s far) and when we arrived at the bus station, the last trip for Manila has already left.
Felix and I were ok with checking in in one of the resorts in Nasugbu but Brenda and her companions have appointments the following day so the jeepney driver brought us to a road junction to wait. Thankfully, a van bound for Pala-Pala arrived.
Tired and sleepy, we fell asleep on the van and woke up when we’re already in Pala-Pala.
It was a new experience for me – getting lost. According to the residents there are many hikers who do traverse that end up in their place. I was hoping that when we get to Nasugbu, we can still go to a beach but getting lost in the trails took those hopes away.
That was several months ago and now (see next post on Pico), I’m missing the beauty of the farmlands of Sitio Kumbento. And I miss the mangoes! I will definitely comeback.