Day 2: July 16, 2011
Place: Brgy. Yumbing-Sitio Villarosa-mt. Hibok-Hibok Crater -Peak -Ardent Hot Springs
Goal: Photo-climb Mt. Hibok-Hibok, trek to the crater lake, summit assault, take (awesome) photos, then traverse to the other trail, emerge at ardent spring, back to Brgy. Himbing same day.
Gears; Daypack, packed lunch, LX5, EOS 350D, 17-70mm 2.8f Sigma, Tripod, waterproofing.
Buddies: Onin (climbed Hibok Hibok once 2 years before), Jocy, Duanne, Sherry (all virgins of Hibok-Hibok) and a few hikers we passed at on our way to the crater.
My team previously discussed and decided to trek Mt. Hibok-Hibok the same day, instead of the usual 2 day, camp at the lake overnight then go down the next day itinerary. For one we’re pressed with time and since we thought the weather is good that day, taking pictures at the peak should be awesome by mid day, our ETA at the peak. Most mountaineers would discourage this itinerary, considered “power” because it entails a faster pace and tiring trek. Well, we stucked with our gut instincts anyway, taking tips from fellow hikers but sticking to our original plan somehow. Will you not trust these buddies of yours?
Not the dump truck again! After we ate our breakfast in a carenderia nearby, we rode the service truck (yes it’s a dump truck) towards the jump off site. As far as I can remember dump truck has been the de facto transport icon for mountaineers. This forum is no exemption. Riding this mule might be fun, but taking photos on the back of this fast moving truck is nuts. The streets going to the jump off site Sitio Villarosa is awesome I wish we slowed down a bit just to gaze at the scenery. I wasn’t able to fire some shots anyway. Was too busy holding to the sidings/railings so I won’t get thrown off balance with the fast moving truck!
Jumping off the jump off site. By 8am we gathered at the jump off site, said our morning prayers and then started the climb. We were just behind the lead pack and glancing at those behind us, I’m pretty sure there will be many more eager to start the trek ahead of us. The starting line is a typical laid back, coconut tree canopied rural community at a foot of Mt. Hibok-Hibok. Shooting opportunity? None, as we were bit late from our timeline. I think I got some shots here but reviewing my photos, I accidentally erased it I don’t know when.
Trekking the uphill walk-in-the-park trail. The trail is well built, with trail signs that are really too obvious to miss. One thing I noticed the trail is all uphill, not stopping a bit for a downhill rest. So this trek a fun climb? Maybe but I’m sure we’re pretty in for one tiring walk in the park my arse. The lone water refilling station is just a few hundred meters from the jump off. We had our first rest there, and I’m already gasping for air. The continuous uphill climb made this hike difficult, but gave us an excuse to take photos of whatever was within in shooting range of our rest. I wish I had an IS lens, the brief, frequent rest (1-2 minutes) required steady hands, not a gasping and tired camera totter. In fact is even harder to think about composition while your brain is gasping for oxygen. I was pushing myself to think about compositions during the trek up, but was too tired to even lift a camera at some point. Knowing Onin to be a fast hiker, I was torn between catching up breaths, pace and taking pictures. Along the way I got few photos which I thought I could have improved some more have I not been pre occupied with breathing.
What’s with the crater and mountaineers? I arrived at the crater lake in one piece by the way, sans the numerous breath stops and cursing. This crater lake was the raging fire mouth of this once active volcano. It is responsible for the tumultuous birth and rebirth of this beautiful island. There’s this eerie feeling walking on this crater lake, knowing that as of late, earthquakes and volcanoes has just spun a wave of destruction in the Pacific ring of fire. Is this volcano not part of this ring???Anyway, we waited for Jocy at the crater, while cooking lunch and exchanging barbs with fellow hikers there. You know what happens whenever mountaineers conglomerate on top of any mountain? Chaotic fun and bottomless jokes. I swear these guys will shame any tv comedian by a mile.
Kung-Funeering at the crater. After Jocy arrived and we had our lunch, we conked a photo shoot. Since this is a crater, and fire is usually associated with dragons and kung fu, we had Dragon Ball Z. Near the crater lake is muddy swampy, and tall grasses covered most of this lake. The 360 view is all mountain (what do you expect) and we don’t have much time as we will still summit the peak later. The main group will be camping here, but me and my buddies will fast trek the summit assault on the other hand. Setting up our photo gears and actors, here’s some of our shots.
Photography lust at the peak! It is still an hour or two of arduous semi crawl climb to the summit. The rocky trail is treacherously loose and l you can only hold to some root parts enroute up. It was almost past 1 Pm and the sun is painfully hot on top of us. Above all, I have to conquer again my fear of heights if I have to get to the top and get photos. My knees and hands shake whenever I look down the cliff or ravine below us. I has had more difficult summits before and this peak will just be a fun climb to most mountaineers, but personally it was a challenge for me. And I had to get good photos. Had to. I’ve spent days dreaming of this climb!
Our sacrifices paid of. The weather, the rest, the prayers and the early decisions paid off. My gasping and panting for air paid off. My shaking paid off. And I once again conquered my fear of the heights. Look at these photos.
Downhill race. I wish we have more time to enjoy the stunning view on top of Mt. Hibok-hibok. Its almost 3PM and the sun is still up. But rain clouds on the west is threatening a coup on the good weather. There’s still 3 maybe four more hours of traverse downhill trek. The trail some 200 meters down from the peak is almost laden with loose rocks and tall grass. Night trekking this trail is out of my freaking agenda, so we trekked like we were running a marathon. It is said by many mountaineers that downhill trek is far a lot easier and faster than the upward climb. True, but personally i hate the constant thigh muscle breaks and frequent falls as a result of loosing your balance because your forward gravity fall is so strong. Beside, I felt my right ankle hurting. I sprained this ankle it previous from previously during one badminton game. I still manage to hike down a bit faster. We barely talked to each other during this downhill tre. We are too tired to do so. Sherry is dragging her legs already and Jocy is catching breathe often with stops. I rarely took photos, partly because the shades really don’t give much illumination and the footholds too loose to hold a tripod platform. It was tall grass all over or canopy everywhere downhill.
It was dark already when we reached Ardent springs on the opposite side of the mountain. We were dead tired. We immediately looked for a carenderia somewhere and ate dinner voraciously! “Cokes pa!!” We were all so happy we all got down safe in one piece. No one really thought we will be accomplishing this feat in one day. Not even me. I was too darn tired to even think about it.
We attempted to take a peek at the ardent spring for another photoshoot but we weren’t allowed to go in even if the event organizers told us, entrance to ardent springs will be free for the forum participants. We didn’t insist also since we might not have time to shoot also. We rented our habal-habal ride home instead. We wanted to freshen up for the post climb gig after. But that is in my next post already!