Monday, October 27, 2014

Announcing the position of Pinoy Mountaineer Junior Blogger

After seven years of blogging all by myself, I am pleased to announce that the position of Pinoy Mountaineer Junior Blogger is now open, and I am now accepting applicants and nominees for this post.

 Responsibilities include helping me maintain and update the Pinoy Mountaineer website, develop new features, create new articles, and social media management. The Junior Blogger will also be invited to join my hikes and expeditions as part of my hiking team.

 Just like me, the Junior Blogger is a voluntary, unpaid position and should not be thought of as a job, but a hobby and applicants should not harbour any expectation of financial gain. However, the Junior Blogger will receive a number of perks, including, but not limited to, free hiking gear, subsidies in trips and expeditions,

 The position is open to anyone , male or female, with mountaineering skills and experience, and with aptitude in writing and doing research. Further details will be disclosed to short-listed candidates. The application period will run until November 30, 2014. Short-listed candidates will be notified by email and invited to join a dayhike that will count as an ‘interview’. If a candidate is chosen, he or she will be announced next year.

 Interested applicants are requested to send the following information to Daniel at info@pinoymountaineer.com:

 Name:
 Age:
 Place of current residences:
Provincial hometown, if any:
 Occupation / Profession:
Educational attainment:
College / Univeraity attended:
Clubs joined:
 Hiking experience:
 Blogging experience (if any):
 Outdoor skills:
Digital media or web skills, if any (i.e. video editing, programming, etc.)
:Other hobbies or interests:
Languages spoken:

 Optional: Please attach or include URL of a sample of your creative work (i.e. blog post, photography, video)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mt. Daraitan (739+)

MT. DARAITAN
Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon
Major jumpoff: Brgy. Daraitan (village centre), Tanay
Minor jumpoff: Sitio Cablao Brgy. Pagsangahan, General Nakar
LLA: 14°36′48.5′′N 121°26′19.5′′ E, 739 MASL (+600)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2.5-4 hours 
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Tropical forest, limestone formations, river trek
Article history: Created 10/20/14 Last updated 10/20/14

BACKGROUND
A gem at the heart of the great Sierra Madre mountain range, close enough to Manila to do as a dayhike, is Mt. Daraitan, which sits near the border of Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon. A former logging area, the village that bears the mountain's name is now an ecotourism site that offers outdoor attractions such as caves, springs, natural pools, and limestone formations. A model for ecotourism, the barangay has an organised system for handling visitors, including trained local guides.

The hike up is a (mostly) straightforward 600-meter ascent that might feel steep to those not used to hiking. There are, however, plenty of holds and the trail is well-maintained. The forest environment is similar in characteristics with Mt. Pinagbanderahan, which also lies in the Sierra Madre - but Daraitan has more rewarding limestone viewpoints and a much more challenging hike.

At the summit, one can see the Sierra Madre mountains (E, NE), the meandering Daraitan River, and a glimpse of Laguna de Bay with its outlying mountains (i.e. Makiling and Sembrano) and the mountain within it: Mt. Tagapo. There is space for several tents if you wish to stay overnight. From the summit, instead of returning all the way to the barangay, a recommended route to take is the trail to Tinipak River. Though the trail itself is very similar to the ascending trail, Tinipak River, with its beautiful limestone boulders, is a great highlight and must not be missed! This is also a popular camping ground which gives the option of exploring the springs, natural pools, and caves in the area.

Mt. Daraitan is a great sampler for hiking up the relatively unexplored Sierra Madre mountains, and along with the other attractions in Daraitan, particularly the scenic, lunaresque Tinipak River, is a highly recommended dayhike or overnight destination from Manila. 

ITINERARY

Mt. Daraitan + Tinipak River Dayhike

0400 Take jeepney from EDSA-Shaw to Tanay, Rizal
0530 ETA Tanay, Rizal. Take jeep to Sampaloc, Tanay (P26
0615 ETA Sampaloc, Tanay. Take tricycle to Brgy. Daraitan (P100/person)
0700 Arrival at Daraitan River. Cross with raft and take trike to barangay hall
0730 ETA Barangay Hall; Register and secure guides
0800 Start trek up Mt. Daraitan
1130 ETA summit. Explore the viewpoints / Lunch
1300 Start descent to Tinipak River
1500 Arrival at Tinipak River. Explore the area
1630 Proceed to Brgy. Daritan via riverside trail 
1800 Head back to Tanay, Rizal via tricycle

Mt. Daraitan camping + Tinipak River (2 days)

Day 1
0600 Take jeepney from EDSA-Shaw to Tanay, Rizal
0730 ETA Tanay, Rizal. Take jeep to Sampaloc, Tanay (P26
0815 ETA Sampaloc, Tanay. Take tricycle to Brgy. Daraitan (P100/person)
0900 Arrival at Daraitan River. Cross with raft and take trike to barangay hall
0930 ETA Barangay Hall; Register and secure guides. 
1000 Start trek up Mt. Daraitan
1200 Lunch along the way
1300 Resume trek
1600 ETA summit. Set up camp.
1800 Dinner / socials

Day 2
0545 Sunrise viewing at the limestone formations
0700 Breakfast / Break camp
0800 Start descent to Tinipak River
1100 Arrival at Tinipak River. Lunch / Sidetrips
1530 Proceed to Brgy. Daritan via riverside trail
1615 Back at Barangay Hall; tidy up
1730 Head back to Tanay, Rizal via tricycle
1830 Back in Tanay Rizal. Take jeepney back to Shaw / Cogeo
2000 Back in Manila

Note: It is also possible to camp in Tinipak River and do Mt. Daraitan as a dayhike on Day 1 or 2 of an overnight trip. 

PRACTICALITIES: MT. DARAITAN
Transportation
Public (1) Jeep or van, EDSA-Shaw Crossing to Tanay [70-90 pesos; 1.5 hours]
(2) Jeep, Tanay to Sampaloc [26 pesos, 45 minutes)
(3)Tricycle, Tanay to Brgy. Daraitan [100 pesos/person; 30 minutes]
(4) Raft, Daraitan river [10 pesos; 1 minute]
(5) Tricycle, Daraitan river to Brgy. hall [10 pesos/person; 5 minutes]
*Alternatively for 1-2, take jeep from Cogeo to Sampaloc
*Alternatively for 2-3, if going overnight, take jeep from Tanay to Daraitan that leaves at 1300H and 1500H (and returns from Daraitan to at 0900H and ~1200H)
Approximately 3-4 hours travel time because of various stops and delays. 

Private. Head out to Marcos Highway and follow through the Tanay-Infanta Road. Make a left turn to the rough road that leads to Brgy. Daraitan, and park just before the river which used to be connected by a wooden bridge. Cross the river following 3-4 on the 'Public' section above. Parking is available before the river crossing. Approximately 2-2.5 hours travel time.
Registration
(1) Logbook at the barangay hall of Daraitan. P20 registration fee. 
Available; assigned at the barangay hall (500 pesos for the dayhike; 1250 for overnight)
+639069533470 - Willy (Head Guide)
+639989881590-  Tanay Tourism Office 
Campsites and waypoints
Summit  (14°36′48.5′′N 121°26′19.5′′ E 739m)
Tinipak River (14°36′10.6′′N 121°26′40.4′′ 299m) 
Water sources
None in the upper reaches of the mountain; present in Tinipak River
Cellphone signal
Sporadic at the lower reaches
Present from 600m up to the peak
River crossings
None in the hike proper, but Tinipak River itself can be crossed as part of side trips (i.e. swimming in lagoons, visiting caves etc.)
Roped segments
None
None
Minimal
Rattan
Minimal
Hiking notes 
The rocks up and down the mountain can be slippery. If it is raining heavily the trail to Tinipak River may not be advised by the guides.
Sidetrips
In Tanay, Daranak and Batlag Falls can be visited before visiting Daraitan, especially if you plan to take the regular afternoon jeepney. In Daraitan, Caves and Tinipak River exploration can count as side trips. 
Alternate trails
There are hunters' trails that go deep into the Sierra Madre mountains. One of the nearby peaks, Mt. Lugang, is being considered as another ecotourism site. 
Yes (2.5-4 hours to summit; 1.5-3 hours down on either of the above-mentioned trails)
Facilities at jumpoff
(+) Sari-sari stores
(+) Carinderias / paluto
(+) Wash-up / shower places 
500-700 (dayhike)
800-1000 (overnight)

MT. DARAITAN PICTURES
The trail up Mt. Daraitan is moderately steep and beautifully forested
Meandering Daraitan River as viewed from the summit
At the summit of Mt. Daraitan with its limestone formations
Taking a break in one of the springs along Tinipak River
The 2.6 km trek from Tinipak River to the barangay hall is one of the
highlights of Daraitan

TRIVIA
An account of the blogger's hike up Mt. Daraitan on October 18, 2014 is narrated in Hiking matters #431.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hiking matters #431: Discovering Mt. Daraitan - a great outdoor destination in the Sierra Madre

At the summit of Mt. Daraitan (734m) in the Sierra Madre mountain range,
near the border of General Nakar, Quezon, and Tanay, Rizal
For many years Daraitan has been synonymous with the picturesque river that bears its name, and I had overlooked the fact that there is actually a Mt. Daraitan that overlooks this river and, as part of the Sierra Madre, has beautiful forests and rock formations. This realisation was the final push I needed, and today I finally got to visited this scenic area. Joining me were Jenny Aggangan, Niel and Nicole Dagondon, Cynthia Sy, Ivan Lakwatsero, Chris Villapando, Anna Bas, Pat Labitoria, Carlo Cunanan, and young Palawe├▒o hiker Brenton Tan.

Daraitan lies at the border of General Nakar, Quezon, and Tanay, Rizal. We took the Marcos Highway and the Tanay-Infanta Road, making a left turn to a long rough road with a clearly marked 'Daraitan sign'. This rough road is ultimately interrupted by a river, which necessitates taking a raft, and then a trike to the barangay hall where the treks also begin. A guideship system is in place ( and our guide, Boyet, took time to remind everyone of the need to practice Leave No Trace principles. A former logging area, it is now an ecotourism site, making it a model for other areas with environmental issues. 
The hike starts with a brief section of rough road but is primarily through a forest studded with limestone, sharing similar characteristics with Mt. Pinagbanderahan in Quezon and Mt. Udok in Aurora - demonstrative of these mountains' kinship as part of the Sierra Madre mountain range. To reach the summit, one must gain 600 meters or so, in a straightforward ascent, moderately steep but manageable considering that the trail isn't really that long.

It was quite muddy during our hike, but we were aided by numerous holds available - branches, roots, rocks - and the fact that the trail was well maintained. We were told that once a week, the guides would check and do a clean-up of the trail, making sure that there are no landslides or dangerous parts. (I was really impressed with the seriousness of the guides and friendliness of the locals).
It took us two hours and 20 minutes to reach the summit, where we were greeted by a beautiful limestone formation constituting a viewpoint that overlooks the southeast. We had lunch at the summit, which doubles as a campsite that can fit several tents (no water source though). Niel, who had done the overnight, told us that it was a great place to camp out and considering that most people camp in Tinipak River, there is a big chance of having the summit all to yourselves.
Less than fifty meters away from the summit, there is a small portion dubbed 'Rockies' (yes, I know that this monicker is a bit overused) which is yet another limestone formation where you can see the meandering Tinipak River with Mt. Batolusong at the background, and in the far northwest, Laguna de Bay, Mt. Tagapo, Mt. Sembrano, and even Mt. Makiling. To the east, on the other hand, the other Sierra Madre mountains loom, led by nearby Mt. Lugang.
We took a different trail variant on the way back, leading to Tinipak River. At some point, we crossed the border with Quezon and the sitio we reached says that it's within Gen. Nakar municipality. Near the riverbank, there lies another campsite which can be used as a base to explore the area - we saw several tents pitched. There is also a small spring where one can take a dip before proceeding.

From Tinipak River, I thought it would just be one of those routine walks near the end of a hike, but actually, it turned out to be a breathtaking trek along the riverbank that allows you to appreciate the more the beauty of the river - easily one of the highlights of the whole hike. It only takes 30 minutes to reach the barangay, and by 1630H, we were having merienda in one of the carinderias; by 1900H we were back in Manila. Thanks Niel for the wonderful Juju treat and to everyone for joining the hike!
A Mt. Daraitan itinerary will be posted soon in PinoyMountaineer.com. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hiking matters #425: Hiking in Cebu Part 2 - Mt. Kan-Irag (Sirao Peak), scenic viewpoint of Cebu and Mactan

After hiking up Mt. Manunggal (see Hiking matters #424), we proceeded to Mt. Kan-Irag, also known as Sirao Peak. I would have preferred the longer trail that starts from  Sitio Budlaan in Talamban closer to the city, but this abbreviated mini-hike  it proved to be a worthy sidetrip, with a short but sweet trail and nice views at the summit.

The trailhead begins at Ayala Heights in Busay - a short turn from the main Transcentral Highway. The hike starts as a walk up some grassy slopes, and enters a short section of forest before emerging back into grassy slopes that characterise the peak.

The hike can be done in less than thirty minutes. Theoretically, with a private vehicle, you can actually peakbag a good number of Cebu peaks in one day - Manunggal, Mauyog, and Sirao in the morning, lunch in Cebu, then head to Osmena Peak and Lanaya in the afternoon. But of course, it is also good to take it one - or two - at a time.
At the top, we were offered a nice view of Metro Cebu: the sprawl of Cebu, Mandaue, and behind them Mactan Island and the Visayan Sea. The city lights make for a good view too, our hosts said, but that will be for another time. Once again thanks to Scarlet Su-Villamor for organising the hike! And thanks to everyone who joined us! 


DAYHIKES IN CEBU (SEPTEMBER 2014)
Hiking matters #424: Mt. Manunggal
Hiking matters #425: Mt. Kan-irag (Sirao Peak)
Hiking matters #426: Mt. Lanaya

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