From The Archives: Mt. Pinatubo Trek

--> Enamored by stories of a majestic crater lake and trekking on an unusual landscape, it didn't take a lot of convincing for me to decide to climb my second mountain. So, with my borrowed backpack and a happy bunch from DLSU Outdoor Club, I was off to Mt. Pinatubo.

Goofing around, Victory Liner bus to Tarlac
Our group must've filled half the bus. I noticed that contrary to newbies like me who were high and excited, the oldies were asleep, conserving their energy. It could be that or they were still hungover from the night before.

Two muscle jeepneys picked us up at a junction somewhere in Tarlac (It must be Capas, I can't remember). These were the dirt road type - typically used for transporting vegetables to and fro the plantation. We zoomed past lahar towns and before we knew it, we were at Brgy. Santa Juliana.

Manong, stop muna!

Registration, fees, quick snack and a bit of stretching afterwards, we loaded the jeepney once again. The narrow, dusty barangay road suddenly changed into a barren monochomatic landscape. We reached our jumpoff point after a bumpy hour on wheels. Our senior hitchhiker didn't mind the rough ride, she even insisted to go on topload! We dusted our powdery heads off before starting the trek.

Looks like it's out of a Star Wars movie

We trudged at high noon along a wide and level path. Ten years after the volcanic eruption, the new generation of vegetation has barely made the area green. If not for the beach-like sandy ground and occasional refreshing dips in water streams, the trek would be comparable to a long walk along South Superhighway.

Are we still on Earth?

We baked under the midday sun for hours before we reached the final approach to the crater. The trail gradually ascended and we reached the crater campsite in just over an hour, racking up a total of 6 hours.

My tentmates

The crater campsite was packed but we still managed to find a decent spot. Dusk approached fast as we pitched our tents. Still wasted from hours of walking, I only managed to get a quick glance at the crater view.

A light drizzle also settled in, which later progressed into full-on rain. We could hear landslides in the dark, which was frightening because our campsite could crumble next. But then we ruled out the possibility, assuming those landslides were occurring on the opposite side of the crater.

Morning party

The last thing I expected was having night chills. But as the night went deeper, the temperature dropped even lower. I had to sleep inside a garbage bag to keep myself warm. Before midnight, the sky cleared and camp socials was on. I had a few shots of gin before calling it a night.

I was using expired film (not Lomo-intentionally though)

The next day, I woke up to a damp malong, puzzled. And then I realized that moisture must have developed inside my garbage-sleeping-bag! My batch mates called me out of my tent to see what we came here for. I can still remember that moment, seeing the crater lake in all its turquoise majesty! It was just WOW!

I chickened out of swimming, who knows how deep this is...

All the hours of hiking, the frightening experience and whole ordeal from the night before was worth it. We trekked down a steep trail to the crater lake where some of the guys swam (sulphur is known to be good for the skin). I settled for a requisite shot instead.

Group shot

Mt. Pinatubo was one of my most memorable climbs because of many things. I told myself I would visit the mountain every now and then, when I get the chance (schedule-wise and financial-wise).

My recent climb at least 5 years ago (digital age na)

Nowadays, climbing Mt. Pinatubo is much easier - you can rent a 4x4 vehicle which cuts the trek time down to just a couple of hours. A viewdeck on the crater rim has also been added, together with other attractions, like crater kayaking and mud spa services.


  1. I love it! Pag babalik ka (sana soon na) isama mo ko! Let's visit the Aetas too! :)

    -Hershey :)

  2. I'd love to go back, but these days it would cost us an arm and a limb to climb that mountain :s


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