a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First Trail Run Attempt in Pico De Loro

When I told my mom I was going "jogging" in Cavite at 4:30am on a Saturday morning, she wailed. She thinks my legs are too big and muscular already for me and my 4’11 height and that I may not get a boyfriend in this lifetime because certain parts of me are bigger than that of a normal guy’s. I don’t blame her for being so concerned. Since I was in high school, she’s seen me go home with blood on my clothes, wounds on my legs, bruises everywhere. There were times that I couldn’t even walk normally due to extreme body pain brought by football and mountain climbing. I thought she would have gotten used to it by now but apparently, mothers never really get over this sort of thing.


I tried to console her by telling her that exercise is good and that I’m going to be with  friends from college who are also my backpacking and mountaineering companions. There’s something about my friend Jules that radiates a sense of responsibility that most parents would trust their children with her for a friend. So my mom calmed down and I got out of the house without much debate.


I arrived at the meeting place in less than 30 minutes. As I approached their table where they ate breakfast, Tan announced, “Let’s just go on a day hike!”. My face beamed and I immediately agreed to it. I already had a feeling that they would opt for that instead. Jogging on cement is boring anyway. I just do it for exercise. I thought to myself, this would be a great venue to train for the Climbathon 2010 in Mt. Kinabalu. Me and Jules joined its 2009 edition last October and did not finish. We couldn’t even run past the Carson falls which was only at the beginning of the race. We had very little preparation and joined it for adventure’s sake but this time around – we are a little more serious and more determined to reach the summit and finish in 3 ½ hours – the cut-off for the women’s leg.

Hence, instead of jogging along the road near Pico De Loro, we gave in to the urge of our itchy feet to climb/run in Pico De Loro. It’s a mountain the three of us know very well for we have been climbing it since college. It’s the venue of our training climbs –we’ve already done a traverse from Cavite to Nasugbu, a night trek, an overnight trip and Tan – used to do a day hike here when he was reviewing for his nursing board exams.


We started off at the DENR station –in full smiles. The weather was just the way I like it – chilly yet no signs of rain. We had a slow start – I especially took time to warm up my leg muscles and eventually picked up the pace. Me and Jules reached the summit, 664 meters above sea level in under two hours followed by Tan about 30 minutes later.


We stayed and had fun at the summit for about an hour. It was only March ‘09 when we last went here. Now, the wonderful summit is marred with a huge metal signboard with holes in it that seemed like it was made by a pellet or air gun. I do not mean to be blunt but personally, I prefer if people leave the summit alone and let mother nature provide all the beauty.

After the steep trail down the summit, we started to run again and we hardly saw each other on the trail. Jules came down first and was way ahead of me (high five!), I was the second and Tan was the sweeper.

Basing from our pace, we estimated that we could get back at the DENR station by 12:30pm.

I suddenly felt tired as I’ve been lacking sleep for the past two days and so I decided to slow down as I made my way to the farm, also called Basecamp I by mountaineers. The farm to the DENR station takes only about 30-45 minutes by walking and so I knew that cold Coke was minutes away. I started to run again – though very slowly this time.


30 minutes later, I began to feel a bit disoriented. I was aware of this fork where I had to turn left to get back to the main highway which was a few minutes away from Basecamp I but I haven’t seen it so I stopped running and continued to descend by walking. It felt weird because I had made a mental note not to miss it. This was Pico, practically our club’s second home.

I began to freak out a bit. There was no cellphone signal so I couldn’t call Jules. I took note of the time – it was only a few minutes before 12:30pm and I knew, I ought to be seeing a signboard by La Salle. About 20 minutes later, I reached an area filled with purple flowers on the left side of the forest and that’s when I confirmed that I was lost because these weren’t on the Ternate trail. I decided to head back and almost cried. The trail going back was obviously not the same way we came. I knew I was going to be delayed for another hour. At that time, I knew that both Tan and Jules had already reached the DENR station and figured out that I got lost and would probably come back and wait for me at the fork which I missed.

After some more trekking, I saw another fork on my right but I knew it wasn’t the trail we passed by because there was supposed to be this arrow sign engraved in a tree. This one didn’t. Instead, there was a signboard posted on a tree with an arrow pointing to the left.


I decided to try it because it felt familiar. I began to feel at ease. Though I knew it wasn’t the same trail we used this morning, I felt confident it was the path that will lead me back to the jump-off.


A few minutes later, I triumphantly reached the main highway and when I made a steep descent from a trail that was different from the one we passed by earlier, I knew I had trekked the old trail – the one we used back in college. No wonder it felt so familiar!

I got back to the DENR station smiling. Tan and Jules welcomed me in amusement and I immediately told them how I got lost. It turned out – Tan also missed the fork on his way back. I also told Jules that I was hoping they would come back for me but Jules said – they had no plans of doing anything other than wait for me because they felt confident that I could make my way back. Wah! It was weird indeed but I’m glad we all got back unharmed, though with damaged egos.

Itinerary can be found here:

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