Because we’re hardcore like that

Also known as: The epic pre-birthday Pinatubo trip

I wasn’t planning on any trip for the month of March because March is usually the busiest month of my year, being my birth month and all. But my best friend had other ideas and decided to invite us all to go trek to Mt. Pinatubo.

Like I said, I wasn’t really planning a trip, so I thought of passing on this one because I usually have to many things going during March. But after my friends started confirming that they were joining the trek, I realized that if I don’t go there now, I may never be able to go there again because the people I usually go on trips with have already gone. Of course, I can always go alone or I can find another group to go with…but it’s really so much fun to be with these people.

And so I went. It could be a pre-birthday trip.

Trust my luck that I was on midshift the night before. I got off work as early as I can, met up with Happy, stayed up late talking then headed to the meeting place at 3 in the morning. No sleep, all ready to trek.

I know, it sound like a very bad decision, right? Especially when they asked us if we wanted to go do the shorter 30-minute trek for with an additional fee and we refused. Come on! It’s supposed to be a trek! It’s supposed to be long, climbing rocks, crossing rivers and all that! We refuse to go the 30 minute trek — we want the 2-3 hour one! We’re hardcore!

Yep, kind of a bad decision.

Welcome to Pinatubo, says Cookie.

So, anyway, we arrived at Tarlac at around 7 in the morning, and after some waiting, we were finally off to ride the 4×4 where they’d bring us to the start of our trek. The 4×4 ride was fun, especially when we were crossing little rivers and going round rocky parts. Wohoo! The wind was cool, it wasn’t so hot yet and we were all hyped up with early morning energy despite lack of sleep.

It’s kind of amazing to wonder what happened in that area. To the unfamiliar, Mt. Pinatubo is one of the active volcanoes in Luzon, located in the border of Tarlac, Pampanga and Zambales. The volcano had a massive eruption in 1991, which destroyed the surrounding area because of pyroclastic flows, ash falls and lahar caused by rainwater. I remember having to wear a mask in going to school because of the ash that it brought — and I was already in Manila, which was around 3 hours away from the volcano. The lahar buried a lot of farmlands and buildings, causing massive destruction. However, this eruption also caused the Pinatubo crater lake to form, which is now a tourist spot.

It made me wonder a lot as we went through the canyons. I don’t think people ever thought that the Pinatubo would be a tourist spot a little over a decade later.  Back then, people probably only thought of the eruption as a calamity, as something destructive. But look, 10 years later, people pay to go through the canyons and to get to the volcano.

I don’t know about you, but I see that as God’s creativity.

Anyway, so the 4×4 ride? Awesome. Might have been more awesome if we had enough sleep. :P

The 4×4 behind us
Barren Roads

Somewhere in the middle of the ride, we had some photo-op. Of course we had to take it. :P

First Photo-op — look at my eyebagsssss!
Woot. On the 4×4 — Cookie and the girls.
Album-cover pose. On the rocks. Dodge says it’s for The Journey :P
Pinatubo Bandits :P

After some more time, we arrived at the starting point of the trek. We were all so eager to start it already because the 4×4 ride felt longer than it was supposed to be. We were raring to go. Did I tell you we were hardcore? :P

Can you see how clean we all were here? How happy and energized we look? Remember that. That is us not knowing what lies ahead of us. Such innocence.

And so we walked. And we walked. And we walked.

Of course, the way there wasn’t really that bad, especially since we were all still very energized and all. There were lots of conversations, such squealing when crossing over moving water, food sharing and singing just to occupy our time. We had no idea how far we had to walk, but it was okay — we had the entire day. Plus, climbing over rocks and taking pictures were always fun.

The scenery wasn’t so bad.
There’s flora.
There’s fauna.
Bodies of water that don’t look really nice to wade in.
This is Noel. He is happy with the trek. Wait till we have to go back. :P
My favorite part: wading in the water. The clean looking ones, of course. Cool water on tired, hot feet. Wait…is that even good for me?

We eventually got to the stop over point where we could go pee and rest a bit and have snacks under some huts. That’s about 2 hours later from when we started the trek. Then we see this:

“Your trek starts here.” WTH?!?!?! What was that 2 hour trek?!

So we trek. The sign says that if you’re young age, the last part of the trek should only be 15 minutes. If you’re middle age, it would be 18 and if you’re a senior citizen, it would be 20 minutes. We figured we fit in the 15 minutes right?

Guess how long we took to trek the last 2km?

It was definitely not less than 20 minutes. >_>

Trek, trek. More rocks.

AND THEN…OMG I SEE THE CRATER!!!

*cue heavenly chorus*

The crater was actually quite…pretty. It wasn’t as turquoise blue as we hoped because of the clouds, but still, it was a very welcome sight! After how many kilometers, WE WERE FINALLY THERE.

Of course we didn’t know that we still had to climb down long set of stairs down to the crater, in the heat of the sun. That wasn’t really a problem until we had to go back up…but that’s another issue.

Cookie says hi from the crater!

Not all of us were in the mood to swim so we just ended up frying hanging out under the heat of the sun, talking, eating and trying to offer our French friend as a sacrifice to the Pinatubo fairy and just watching other people. It was fun, maybe a little bit boring sometimes…but you know, there are always ways to amuse yourselves.

Like creating a ritual dance for the French boy offering.

Ritual dance. Turns out he wasn’t cooked well enough yet. :P

Or copying a McDonald’s ad. It was Gel’s idea. :P

Fake smiles galore. :P

Sunbathe. And talk.

Sunbathing. Cookie can’t go tan.

And of course, the obligatory group shot by the crater.

Too tired for jump shots.

And then, we had to face the inevitable: we have to go back.

And dear Lord, going back up the stairs was torture. o_O

And then we had to walk back. Instead of being in awe of the sights though, we were just…walking. And walking fast, because we just want to go and lie down and sleep.

More of this again.
And this.
And this.

It was almost like we were walking through the end of the world. Or rapture. Or insert whatever apocalypse you could think of. At least there were no zombies.

There we are.
This was us nearing the end of the trek. See that guy in black with the stick? That’s Noel. Remember how happy he looked earlier? Well…he doesn’t look happy now.

And so…that was our trip. We actually fell asleep in the 4×4 and woke up covered in ash, so we took a shower (thank God there was a shower) and then we were on our way to Manila. We were all conked out in the van, sunburned and tired, but we still had dinner before we all said goodbye to one another. We got home, and immediately fell asleep right after.

Don’t get me wrong — it was loads of fun. I enjoyed that day trip. But as with every adventure, it was very, very tiring. I would do that again…but not anytime soon. :P Just make sure you are with a group of people who’s willing to be hardcore like you if you’re planning to do this. Also, have lots of sleep, bring water, food and comfortable shoes, because it really, really is an adventure. :)

And I don’t know about you, but I am glad that God created human endurance. I don’t think we would’ve survived if we didn’t have that. And good company. Thank You Lord for my awesome friends. :)

Oh, and that trek was 24km all in all. May have burned about 2000 calories. :P I don’t know, but I feel like I can go and run a half marathon sometime this year because of this. :P

Thanks to Toni and Marvie for organizing the trip, to Tripinas for hosting the tour. This is definitely one thing that everyone has to experience at least once in their lifetime — and you get a certificate to celebrate your victory, too. ;)

* Photos stolen from Toni, Dodge, Happy and Jeremy

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