It was an exciting weekend, after 9 months I was back to trekking/mountain climbing again. That weekend trip was a long-time plan, we had the tour purchased last year but since our schedules didn’t jive, it took several months before we came up with the tour date. And on Saturday (March 2, 2013) the date we long waited for happened, a trip to Mt. Pinatubo.
Mt. Pinatubo is known for its eruption in 1991 which was named as the 2nd largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century. It originally stands 1,745 meters before the eruption and currently measured at 1,486 meters. It is located in Central Luzon bordering the 3 provinces of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga.
Since it was an arranged tour, we depart from Manila earlier than the our usual schedule whenever we go on a hiking adventure. We started travelling at about 1:30AM because we need to be in Capas, Tarlac at 5:00AM. Fortunately we arrived much earlier than the schedule at the meeting place in McDonalds Capas so we still got the chance to take a long nap. Just after the breakfast, we then proceeded to the jump-off site which is about 40-45 mins from McDonalds Capas.
After filling up some registration forms and after the tour guide and 4×4 were assigned, its trekking time. The tour going to the crater was a nice experience. The view of the lahar deposits feels like we are travelling on a dessert in an Arab country. We had 3 stops going to the crater, the first and third were for photo opportunity and last stop for 4×4 where the main trekking entry point to the crater starts, while the second was due to some territorial issues with the indigenous people of Pinatubo. That second stop halted our trip for more than 1 hour.
Contrary to previous years wherein trekking to the crater could take about 2 hours, our trek took only about 15-20 minutes and that is because 4×4 can now reach further. With the newly created 4×4 trail, the trekking time was drastically lowered compared to before.
After reaching the crater park, we just had our lunch and take some pictures then decided to trek down, back to the 4×4 stop. I am not discounting it’s beauty and magnificence but having climb several mountains before, Mt. Pinatubo is more of a tourist attraction not a mountain climbing adventure. But it’s still worth reaching the top and seeing its crater lake. With several minutes of rest, we ride the 4×4 again back to the jump off area not knowing that will be the climax of our Mt. Pinatubo Adventure.
The 4×4 ride back to the jump off site is a great great experience way better than the journey to the crater and that is because of the mini 4×4 race we had. Speeding away the 4×4 in the rocky and muddy (in some part) lahar trail which makes the ride bumpy gave us the thrill and joy ride of a lifetime. Trailing and overtaking other 4x4s gave me a different feeling of excitement and joy. I can even imagine were on a shooting of movie with a car chase scene on a dessert, very exciting. If it’s not with the 4×4 race, our Mt. Pinatubo adventure would not be that satisfying.
But the 4×4 race will not be possible without the great drivers. I salute and admire those drivers who managed to pull-off that kind of stunts because driving in rough roads like that lahar trail is no easy job (hmmm wait, maybe with the same degree of difficulty as driving in EDSA, kidding). Without them, the Mt. Pinatubo adventure will not be more exciting and more fun. I just hope they are given right compensation with that kind of difficult job.
All in all, it was a worth summer adventure. Being reunited with old friends and bonding together, having to see the Mt. Pinatubo crater lake and having the ride of our life with 4×4 lahar racing is a testament that indeed IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES.