July 31 – August 1, 2015
It was two weeks ago when Rhon, Kaye, Tasha, Mich and I scheduled this major climb up in my favorite mountain, Tarak Ridge, in Mariveles, Bataan. Since it was a major climb and I’m the only one in our group who has been up there before, I took it upon myself to conduct a simple preclimb meeting with them to orient them of what to expect. Of course, BMC mandates that a preclimb meeting should be done at least three days before the climb. Moreso, LNT principle number whatever states that we should “plan ahead and prepare.”
Alas, the weather did not cooperate, and having climbed Tarak Ridge thrice before, I know the dangers the trails may bring, especially when wet, especially when trekking with a group of mostly newbie mountaineering friends. As such, we decided to postpone it to sometime when the weather would be at our side. And two weeks later, because of a school holiday (thank you St. Ignatius!) our feet were onwards to Bataan!
Everyone was at Five Star terminal at EDSA Cubao by 4:30 am. Oooops, not actually everyone! Our team was still shy of one participant due to oversleeping. Hehe. 🙂 But all’s well that ends well. She made it to the 5:20 am trip, buzzer beater style!
Our group finally arrived at Alas-Asin Barangay Hall after the butt-numbing three-and-a-half hour bus ride (yep, nangawit puwet ko sa kauupo!). After a quick visit inside to log in and register the fees, we had breakfast first at the nearby carinderia.
Trekking commenced by 9:30 am, half an hour late from our target itinerary. No big deal, though. We were just four in the group (Mich was not able to join us as she still had some enrollment errands to do this day). Thus, I expected fewer rest stops, and we could actually take our time in this trek.
Our group took a quick 10-minute rest at Nanay Cording’s hut. One can never get tired of her endless tales of how her family got there, how Tarak Ridge was discovered by Sir Sky Biscocho of AMCI, how mountaineers both young and old have been part of her life, and so on and so forth.
We continued our trek after this quick rest stop. As I’ve shared with my teammates, Tarak Ridge is my favorite mountain, not because of the height nor its elevation, but due to the various terrain it offers. The mossy forests will provide the trekker an adrenaline rush as its slippery rocks and roots will challenge one’s sense of balance. The open grasslands will give you a temporary sense of accomplishment as it will show you your elevation gain while trekking under the heat of the sun.
We arrived at the famed Papaya River by 1:30 pm, waaay too late from my conservative estimate of 10:30 am. Haha! Tough luck! Nonetheless, our pace was still good enough to make it to the ridge before sundown since we were only a small group taking only a few rest stops. But enough of that. What better way to enjoy the area than to sit down, have our overdue lunch, and of course, take a dip at the cool waters of the river!
We resumed trekking by (the unbelievable time of) 3:30 pm. “Aabot tayo bago magdilim!!!” I kept reminding myself. The rest of the trek was now pure assault, with parts you need to use both hands to grapple and grab the roots and trunks and branches of low-lying trees to lift yourself up. It was just about 2.5 kilometers more, but this short distance could take a maximum of three hours for some. Luckily, our team made it in less than two hours, reaching the summit grasslands by 5:15 pm, and finally, the ridge by 5:30 pm!
Since it was close to 6:00 pm when we finished our photo ops, we started pitching our tent and preparing our dinner. We pitched tent in the campsite hidden in the forested area as we accidentally left the pegs. Unless your tent is low enough and secure enough to withstand the strong winds present in Tarak Ridge during the rainy months, this campsite would be the best option for you.
Kaye’s pork sinigang was the best reward after our 8-hour trek! The steaming hot sour soup partnered with crunchy string beans and kangkong leaves, coupled with pork ribs gave our grumbling stomach and exhausted bodies the much-needed energy we were looking for.
Since we had the entire ridge all to ourselves, we had the luxury of serenely watching the blue moon while hanging out at the open ridge. The lights of Mariveles and Corregidor Island, and even as far as Cavite and Metro Manila, illuminated our horizons like fireflies flickering in the night. It was a no-alcohol socials, since none of us were really drinkers. A bag of Mr. Chips and a pack of Marby Hopia were all there were to accompany the stories we shared that night. It was around 10 pm when we decided to call the lights outs as we will start our assault early the next day.
5 am was the wake-up call for our summit assault, and as expected, ako lang ang nagising sa alarm clock. Hahaha! 🙂 I did the honors of preparing our hot Milo drink to fill our tummies before our assault. Once everyone had their fill, the trek to the summit began.
It took us around 45 minutes to scale this almost-45-degree assault to finally reach the summit! And there it was, the infamous “World Tree” (or might I be mistaken for its name?).
We started our descent after about 30 minutes at the summit. Breakfast of Libby’s Sausages and scrambled egg was what we had to fill our tummies again before we start our descend back to civilization. As usual, the Papaya River was our lunch rest stop, but this time, we skipped dipping so as to arrive back at the jump-off early.
We finally made it back to the jump-off by 3:30 pm! We took a shower at one of the houses near the jump-off offering showers to mountaineers. For just Php 20, there was unlimited amount of water, unlike in other mountains where the shower areas only limit your shower to a couple of pails of water. We were able to grab a ride home vai Bataan Transit by around 4:45 pm, and finally, back at Cubao by 8:30 pm.
Truly, Tarak Ridge has showcased to me once again its beauty (and madness) which I will always come back for more. Never mind that I also got tired and panted at some point in our trek (my last major climb was way back in Holy Week April 2015). The important thing was that the mountains were calling, I responded, brought along several of my teacher friends, and as a group, was able to realize and see the wonders nature has to offer.
Jump off point: Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles
LLA: 14°30.357′N, 120°30′E, 1,006 MASL (ridge); 1,130 MASL (peak)
Days required / Hours to summit: 2 days, 5-6 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3
(information from http://www.pinoymountaineer.com/2007/08/tarak-ridge-1130.html)
Php 267 Bataan Transit fare Cubao to Alas-Asin x 4
Php 40 registration x 4
Php267 Bataan Transit fare Alas-Asin to Cubao x 4
Php 100 donation to Nanay Cording
Php 59 Group Merienda
Php 2,455 total expenses / 4 = Php 613.75 per person