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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mt. Bulusan | The Southernmost Volcano of Luzon

Only 2 years have passed since the uneventful eruption of Mt. Bulusan yet there we were, bravely walking its trail. I guess it’s somewhat due to the ordeal the place had to go through that there was a certain calm that surrounded the place.

It was scary good, I think, that this peaceful and serene mountain could suddenly change pace from docile to violent. Nevertheless, we pushed through and what can I say? It was indeed an adventure.

After experiencing a butt-numbing 15-hour bus ride, our hopes of climbing this very active volcano was being pushed down. Thick layers of clouds hovered above the high peaks thus giving our group a simple problem that we really don’t have any solution to. We just hoped that by the time we were there, the sun would finally show its friendly rays.

By 11:30 AM, we precariously crossed the lake, via a kayak, and started the hike to the campsite.

The mountain trail, as a whole, was very clean. I commend the Wild Boars Group for properly organizing all climbs and for being vigilant about retaining the untouched aura of the park. It can be ranked as one of the cleanest places we’ve been to as I can not remember a single instance of seeing stray rubbish.

The trail was gradually ascending for about 30 minutes then would proceed to a lengthy albeit straightforward trail ending directly at the ranger station. We ate our lunch atop the ranger's tree house and had a peaceful hour of slumber. It was noon anyway, and it was much better to take our time instead of arriving at a very hot campsite.

Another commendable addition that the Wild Boars group did was the obligatory tree planting per climber. Yes, that’s 1 tree for 1 mountaineer. We planted our small friend nearby as we readied ourselves for another hour of hiking.

The trail now became a bit steeper yet somehow, the dense forest covered us from the excruciating heat of the sun. Although this made things very humid and dry, at least we weren’t being barbequed to a char. Our group pressed on whilst having brief stops from time to time.

By 03:30 in the afternoon, we finally stepped atop the campsite of Mt. Bulusan and there, the mighty summit crater stood with majesty. The place was reminiscent of the lahar fields of Pampanga back-dropped by the gigantic peaks of the volcano. It was one of the more imposing campsites we’ve been on.

Upon estimation, I think the total time of our hike was just an hour and half but the long, LONG, rest we had made the hike more relaxed. After all of us finally reached the campsite, we prepared our meals and arranged our tents.

As for me, I decided to just hang my hammock anywhere under the camp hut and there, have a very silent night with the stars. It was cold and chilly yet comfortable at the same time. Just the right preparation for the coming steep assault in the morning.

We all woke up at 3:00 AM. We ate our breakfast, said our prayers and prepared for the assault. It was still very creepy but starting at an early time was ideal. We estimated the climb to be at 3 hours and by 04:00 AM, we started the trek.

The trail was much steeper than the ones we took the day before but thankfully, the chilly morning atmosphere helped us replenish our energy. We again had brief stops from time to time although not much can be seen for the first hour of this part.

But after emerging from the canopies, lo and behold, the view started to unravel. Vegetation started to diminish as volcanic rocks began to engulf the area. As this was gradually happening, the morning sun was already peeking through clouds. It made the whole morning sunrise all the more pleasant as the red hue slowly emerged.

Finally, we were starting to see the marvel of this dangerous place, being surrounded by other high peaks guarded by the forming sea of clouds. It was not as magical as compared to Mt. Kanlaon but all of it was worth the 15 hour bus ride from Cubao. This was a perfect training climb for the said Visayas high mountain.

By 06:00 AM in the morning, we stood atop the highest part of Sorsogon, being mystified by this just destroyed crater right in front of us.

It was actually weird standing there only 2 years after a deadly eruption. Volcanic rocks and sharp stones surrounded the place while different kinds of insects hovered all over. Weird as it may be, I was not familiar with about 80 percent of the bugs I saw.

We roamed around the crater area and even scrambled to the highest portion of the rim. All of Bicol emerged beneath us however, Mt. Mayon was covered by the cloud formation from afar.
After almost 2 hours at the summit, we hastily went back to camp to prepare food and pack our things for the trek down. By 08:30 AM, we were all eating our meals as the clouds quickly engulfed the whole area. By 10:30 AM, we started to run down to the starting point and by 12:00 noon, we were already swimming by the lake, enjoying the rain clouds after giving us only a brief window of opportunity to see the majesty that is Mt. Bulusan.

Normally, I would finish the narration right after we reached our starting point yet we were given a surprise by the friendly staff of Mt. Bulusan Park. As soon as we returned back to the orientation area, hot towels were provided by their people and one by one, we were given a very relaxing foot massage.

Not only did we just climb one of the cleanest mountains in our country but we were also afforded of a 5 star treatment from its organization. The trip to Bulusan may have had a long and gruelling bus ride but all of those back-cracking hardships were worth the pain. And I wouldn’t be surprised of once again, seeing myself hanging under their camp hut, preparing for another assault of this dangerous yet spectacular piece of earth.




Group Itinerary

day 0 

20:00 - meet up at Cubao Terminal
21:00 - ride bus bound for Sorsogon

day 1 

09:00 - arrival at Sorsogon, breakfast
10:00 - ride tricycle to Mt. Bulusan Park
10:15 - orientation, med check up
11:00 - kayak to Starting point
11:30 - start trek
12:30 - arrival at Ranger Station, lunch, rest
14:00 - plant tree, continue trekking
15:30 - arrival at campsite, pitch campsite
17:00 - prepare dinner
19:00 - dinner, socials
20:00 - lights out

day 2

03:00 - wake up call, prepare breakfast
03:30 - quick breakfast
04:00 - start assault
05:00 - arrival at open trail
06:00 - arrival at summit crater, explore
08:00 - trek back to camp site
09:30 - arrival at campsite, break camp
10:30 - trek back to jump off
11:45 - arrival at jump off, swim 
12:00 - arrival at registration area
13:00 - lunch
15:00 - tricycle back to Town,

*for the other group members
18:00 - board bus to Cubao

*for Agnes and I
17:00 - board jeep to Matnog


How to get to Mt. Bulusan

Ride a bus from manila bound for Irosin, Sorsogon. If not available, you can take a bus to Legazpi then make another transfer to Irosin. Upon arrival at Irosin, you can charter a tricycle or jeepney to Bulusan volcano natural park.

Who to contact

You can contact Wild Boars Philippines (wildboarsphil@yahoo.com) regarding the schedule, registration, permits, guides and anything related to the climb. It is advisable to contact them prior the climb so that everything will be arranged before arrival

*Thanks to Bryan, Jam, Ron and Ivan for accompanying us during this trek
*for Ivan's account, click here: http://www.ivanlakwatsero.com/2013/07/mt-bulusan-long-live-volcano.html

2 comments:

  1. An excellent composition in words and in pictures.

    ReplyDelete

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