I've been asked why I keep on climbing mountains. For some it's difficult (depends on the trail though), tiring, boring, and other I-don't-see-the-point-doing-it kind of description they call it.
I always answer simply: "It's fulfilling. The view from the top makes it worth your energy."
But this one's different. We were invited by a friend to hike not just to travel and see the view at the top, but for a purpose of helping someone in his battle with Myeloid Leukaemia. What a great way to help, yes, so I'm in. We're a pretty big group, occupying 3 vans in total. It was organized by D'AwtKasts, a group of travelers who wanted to help their friend by raising fund through organizing hiking events.
Mt. Daraitan should be a minor climb but because of the weather, difficulty has been intensified. We were told that it was rated 9/9 difficulty because of the mud. It was the most challenging hike I've done so far. We were literally stepping, slipping and crawling in mud throughout the trail. Glad I made it for a cause, with these guys I am with.
Our itinerary goes as follows: MT. DARAITAN + TINIPAK RIVER
0400- ETD Brgy Daraitan
0430- ETA Brgy Daraitan Jump Off/Register at Brgy. Hall/Secure tour guide/Orientation
0500- Start trek to summit of Mt. Daraitan,
0900- ETA Summit, rest, picture taking.
1100- Descend to Tinipak river
1300- ETA Tinipak river/Register
1400- Explore cave
1500- Lunch/Explore Tinipak river/swim, picture taking and socials.
1800- Back to jump off
1830- Log out and wash up
1900- ETD back to Manila
2000- ETA Manila
I'm glad the tourism office is strictly implementing 1 is to 4 (or maximum of 5) ratio per guide to ensure that each hiker is being watched over. Our guide, Kuya Shaine, patiently looked after us throughout the whole trail. We are group of 4 and 2 of us had serious difficulty all-throughout because of our footwear. This is where I learned the lesson of really minding the essentials of choosing your hiking gear.
Lesson learned: Never wear an open toe sandals without thumb toe grip because it will literally slip your feet in slippery conditions like this. It almost feels like walking barefoot by the way since my foot never stays in place with these footwear.
I'm dying to see any form of water during the trek just to get ease from slipping. No rain has dropped since the start of our hike and this mud water nest has been my savior!
We've reached the top at almost lunchtime. Summit has quite a long queue for photo ops so we opted not to go there instead and just rest and enjoy the instant cup noodles as our reward for the most slippery hike of our lives. Kuya Shaine also suggested to take the jump-off route on our way back instead of the traverse because of our difficulty due to our uncooperative footwear.
Our way down was another story. Got frightened because I thought I was lost in the middle of the forest. It was a tough 4 hours back that we also choose not to visit the Tinipak River anymore. We rested while waiting for other participants in the barangay hall where we took a nap to regain our energy.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience. It was the hardest, but the most fulfilling hike I've done. Will I come back to Mt. Daraitan? Definitely yes! To finally see its summit and the Tinipak River, it will definitely be another sort of adventure. We are planning to come back this Summer!
Here's the whole group! Thank you Sir Hernan of D'AwtKasts for organizing this event! We've enjoyed a lot and we hope to see you again next climb!
Photos by Anthony