Hi everyone! Last Sunday, April 2, 2017, I went with my friends to a pre-climb/training climb in the mountain associated with Mariang Sinukuan – Mt. Arayat which also happens to be my 47th mountain.
Elevation: 1,026+ MASL
Location: Magalang, Pampanga
Difficulty: 5/9, Major Climb
Trek to Summit: 3hrs 30min (Jump-off to North Peak) + 1hr 45min (North Peak to South Peak)
This trip also served as our group’s pre-climb and my training climb for an upcoming major hike. Read on below for more details.
Because there were 16 of us, the organizer decided to just hire a van for easier transport so I will not be able to provide the exact commute details.
|VEHICLE||FROM||TO||FARE||TOTAL PER PERSON (16 pax)||ESTIMATED TRAVEL TIME|
|Van||Quezon Ave||Mt. Arayat jump-off||Php 5,000||Php 312.50||2 hours|
|TOTAL||Php 312.5||2 hours|
|VEHICLE||FROM||TO||FARE||TOTAL PER PERSON (9 pax)||ESTIMATED TRAVEL TIME|
|Van||Mt. Arayat Exit Point||Quezon Ave||–||–||2 hours|
|DESCRIPTION||AMOUNT||TOTAL PER PERSON (16pax)|
|Guide Fee (Traverse, 1:5 = Php1,500/Backtrail, 1:5 = Php750)||Php 3,000||Php 187.50|
|Registration Fee||Php 20||Php 20|
|Exit Fee||Php 20||Php 20|
|Shower||Php 20||Php 20|
SAFE BUDGET: Php 600 – Php 800
The group met up at McDonald’s Quezon Avenue around 3:00AM. There, we ate our really early breakfast and bought our packed lunch before riding our chartered van. Unfortunately, there was some kind of miscommunication between the operator and the owner of the van so they sent a van with a capacity of about 13pax instead of 16. As soon as we were all settled down inside, I did my best to find a comfortable position to get some more sleep in.
We arrived at the jump off around 5:40AM. Here, we did our final preparations and registered.
Note: Guides are now required in Mt. Arayat. Php1,500/guide for a traverse and Php750 for backtrail. Guides are available upon registration.
After quick photo ops and a prayer, we then proceeded with our hike. I noticed that there were a lot of people during the first part of the trail, mainly because they were doing Stations of the Cross. What I found really surprising was the fact that each station had statues depicting every event instead of just the usual photos and I think that these make the trek going to each station worthwhile.
Eventually, the road separated into two – one leading to the other stations and the other leading to the summit of Mt. Arayat. The first part of the trail has gradual assaults and is mostly made up of rocks and loose soil. There were also times when we had to maneuver around fallen trees and scramble around big boulders inside the forested trail.
After an hour and a half, we reached the “White Rock(s)” where we had the chance to see a clearer view of our altitude. The group took this chance to rest, eat and take a lot of photos before resuming the trek after about an hour.
During this time, the assaults became steeper and steeper and I noticed that most of the time, we had to use both our hands to lift ourselves up in order to proceed with the hike. This is also the reason why I do not have much photos to show – I already kept my camera inside my bag to make sure I was focused on the trail.
After about 50 minutes, we arrived at the first peak or what is commonly known as the North Peak. Aside from the spectacular view of Pampanga, we also saw the other peaks of Mt. Arayat – the Pinnacle Peak and the South Peak. And because it got so hot, we decided to rest first and eat an early lunch before resuming the trek.
We resumed the trek around 10:30AM and what immediately welcomed us was a steep and slippery descent. Everyone held onto the branches and bamboos that were on the side to avoid sliding and slipping straight down the trail. After the slippery part, there was a rappelling segment which may look intimidating at first but is really doable.
After about 45min, we arrived at Haring Bato where we found several hikers taking photos. We did not stay long here because the space was very limited and there were a lot of hikers waiting. Again, there was a rappelling segment to go down from the king rock (Lol).
Afterwards, we had to do several assaults before finally reaching South Park! Kidding! I mean South Peak. From here, we saw the stretch of Pampanga River and the vast landscape of Pampanga. From the horizon, I also saw different mountain ranges which is said to be part of Sierra Madre and Zambales.
One by one, we went to the famous photo spot which was a quick three-minute descent from the south peak. I was a bit intimidated when I got there because I was pretty much surrounded by cliffs. After everyone was done with the photo ops, we proceeded with the descent.
The weather was just right because even though there were several instances when it rained mildly, most of the time, it was just cloudy so it was not hot as we expected. The descent, again, involved lots of loose sand and big rocks. It also did not help that the trail was steep as well so our knees had to endure a bit of strain there. We encountered several trail runners here as well and one was kind and patient enough with my pace. But of course when I found an opportunity to give way, I did (mostly because I got pressured also. Hahaha)
We also stopped by a view deck along the trail. Here, the group took a snack break and talked about different life lessons. And even though it was my first time to hike with most of the members of the group, I am happy that they were very open in sharing their stories with everyone.
The steep and slippery descent lasted for a while until such time when the terrain changed from loose rocks to solid land. My hikemate also said that we would know that we were nearly done with the descent once we get out of the forest and see burnt shrubs. Upon getting out of the forest, it was just practically a walk in the park to the exit point. We congratulated each other as soon as we saw a concrete road and a fleet of tricycles. That was it, traverse completed!
After everyone took a refreshing bath, it was back to the van en route to Quezon Avenue.
Thank you to both our guides and my hikemates for a tiring but fun dayhike! I am happy to have finally crossed Mt. Arayat off my bucketlist.
Alfred – Thanks for organizing and making sure everyone was okay.
Robin – Thank you for not forgetting to invite me and for the video documentary. *Ehem*
Glaze, Jepoy and Rayford – Hello #TeamSweeperDaw! We might have been separated along the trail several times but in the end, we descended the mountain together. Haha! Thank you for a fun-filled descent!
Leary, Cio, Dhey, Mae, Ella, Catherine, Nerli, Mark, Capriz, Arnel – Thank you for being very friendly and for warmly welcoming me.
Tips and Observations
- The trail gets very steep and will oftentimes involve carrying oneself. Make sure both hands are free to help lift oneself.
- The trail is also oftentimes narrow. Give way to faster hikers to avoid bottlenecks.
- Some big rocks are sometimes unstable. Watch your step!
- For the wall/rock climbing parts, be sure to go one by one because sometimes, rocks fall upon stepping.
- Guides are required but are negotiable. For example, our group consisted of 16 members (which means, we had to get 3 guides and pay extra for an additional person – 1:5 ratio. But we managed to convince them to only give us 2 guides)
One of my hikemates, Robin, made a video of our traverse dayhike. I shall upload the video here once he shares it. *Ehem*
Please check back again later.
3:30AM – ETD Quezon Ave to Mt. Arayat jump-off
5:40AM – ETA jump-off. Register. Final preparations.
6:20AM – Start trek
8:05AM – ETA White Rock. Rest. Take photos.
9:00AM – Resume trek
9:50AM – ETA North Peak (Summit 1). Eat early lunch.
10:30AM – Resume trek
11:15AM – ETA Haring Bato
12:15PM – ETA South Peak (Summit 2). Take photos.
1:30PM – Resume trek
3:20PM – ETA exit point. Fix up.
5:00PM – ETD Pampanga
6:55PM – ETA Quezon Avenue
Even though I was reminded why I do not prefer dayhikes (because it starts really early and I get sleepy along the trail), I was also reminded how fulfilling dayhikes can be. Mt. Arayat has always fascinated me ever since I was a child, maybe because it is a lone mountain that stands beautifully in the north.
And now I can finally say that I have scaled this mountain and have seen a more spectacular view at the top.
I am preparing for a major hike next month and I think this is a good training climb for it. 🙂
Thanks for reading!