Daniels brother, Michael, Daniel and I are going hiking!!
Our morning started off at 3:30am! 3:30am! Our driver was going to pick us up by 4am. We had to make sure we had everything. Sunscreen. Check. Industrial Bug spray. Check. Hiking Boots. Check. Money to pay for the excursion. Check. Camera. Check.
We started our long journey with a 2 hour car ride. After about 2 hours we stopped at McDonalds and 7-11 for breakfast and to grab food for lunch. We also needed water, lots and lots of water. I wasn’t too keen on McDonalds for breakfast, I don’t even eat it in the states. But, I figure its better than 7-11 for breakfast. We got back in the car to drive the rest of the way. Sometime around 5 am we could see all the children walking to school. Kids going to school at 5!
We switched vehicles in Camp O’donnell. Jeeps Baby! We had to get on 4x4s to make it to the base of the climb. It was great! Daniel, Michael, and I sat in the back. It was a bumpy ride. We crossed Crow Valley. Crow Valley used to be a United States bombing and gunfire range.
A fare amount of time elapsed. The sun had started to peak up over the mountain ranges, and none of us truly knew where we were going. Michael asks, “I wonder where the Mt. Pinatubo is”. I turned to the native next to us and asked in Tagalog. Both Daniel and his brother, Michael, know very little Tagalog. I think they understand a lot more than they think. Especially because when I asked, they both knew everything I said.
Supprisingly, it wasn’t too hot. But, then again, the sun hadn’t really come out yet. Crow Valley had streams, and rivers, and was a 4×4’s paradise. We made it to the base of the mountain in about an hour. Time to start the climb.
Our Pinatubo mountain guide was wearing flip flops! FLIP FLOPS! This was like a Sunday stroll for him. The rest of us, we were wearing hiking gear and workout outfits. For some reason, our guide was racing the other groups. At one point I asked Daniel if he booked our hike from the “Sprinters Guide of the Philippines”. None of us understood how he was walking that fast. He looked like he wasn’t even trying. We probably passed 3 groups before we began to slow down. About a third of the way up I started to get blisters on the back of my heels. We stopped about half way so we could add bandaids to them.
A couple kilometers in, we got to a resting point. I took off my shoes, yet again, to apply bandages. By this time in our hike, i had a single blisters covering my entire heels. Our guide pointed at a sign that read, “Your Hike Starts Here.” So the first part was a warm up? What? The sign also gave averages based on age for the time it should take for you to get to the top of the mountain. “Young – 15 Minutes to Elderly – 20 Minutes” Our guide pointed at the “Elderly”, pointed at us, and laughed. Its not like we could have done anything. Theres no way any one of us could have caught him.
Our 3 hour hike was done! We made it! And it was worth it!
A Short History Lesson:
Before 1991, Mt. Pinatubo was an unremarkable and heavily eroded moutain. It was covered in dense forest which supported a population of several thousand indigenous people. On June 15th 1991, the second largest volcanic eruption of the twentieth century took place when Mt Pinatubo erupted. After the eruptions ended, a crater lake was formed. Abundant rainfall cooled and diluted the lake and increased its depth by about 1 meter per month on average.
We made it all this way, we had to walk down to the water! We spent an hour or so eating lunch, taking pictures, and overall relaxing. Time to head back up the crater, and down the mountain.
3 hours back down the mountain with the worst blisters ever. A hike has never felt like it lasted forever before. My feet hurt so bad!! I was walking like an old lady by the end. Every time I stepped, it hurt! I learned a new Tagalog word. “AY ARAY” It is some combination of shit and ouch. It designates pain. I was able to repeat it all the way down the mountian.
I was so very happy to make it back to the jeep! It meant no more walking, no more bruses, and rest! It took us an hour to get back to the van.
When we got back to the house, Daniel took a photo of my feet. They look gross.
I am not an author. To be quite honest, I always hated English class. I write so I may share my experiences and remember the man I met on a bus who treated me to dinner with his family, paying and booking a hotel only to find out its out of business, fake crying in the Athens airport to get a ticket home, or remember the strangers who looked out for me on a bus. Some live, experience, and are fulfilled by what’s in their backyards. I find there is something truly exhilarating about cramming as many possessions into a bag as possible, only to complain you brought too many. This is my life out of a suitcase, hope you enjoy.