Man Versus Storm – 3rd L.O.S.T. Anniversary Climb Special

The wet & wild adventure the L.O.S.T way…

The raging waters going down stream at Paniquian-Tarak Ridge

The raging waters going down stream at Paniquian-Tarak Ridge

After months of Hiatus in mountaineering I finally decided to climb again and I choose to start it with L.O.S.T. 3rd anniversary climb and I thought it would be sweet if I will do it and reunited with the members so I helped our founders in organizing the said climb even though we are anticipating a storm (Karen) coming. We’ve been following weather reports the week before our climb and if it gets worst we will call it off but this adventurous of me deep inside is saying it will be a challenge if we will trek for a stormy weather and it would be nice to brag about it that we survive in that kind of weather.

Step further and you're in the cliff of the falls.

Step further and you’re in the cliff of the falls.

This is now more of a survival challenge for the group. I know that storm is just a heavy rain, strong winds and non-stop pouring of the rain because our province (Pangasinan) is always one of province that being hit by typhoons or storms every year and oftentimes I stayed outside the house seeking for an adventure, I will be with my friends going to the creek for a wild swim because the water is so high, I might be out there with my dad at night catching frogs to eat for lunch or dinner if dad is not available I will be with my childhood friends, those kind of stuff that I know storm is not that a real harm in fact in my home town it is one way of getting some money for the living.

Meet the brave scouts or should I say hikers of Team L.O.S.T.

Meet the brave scouts or should I say hikers of Team L.O.S.T.

Considering this, I know that me and the L.O.S.T. Team will survive this wet and wild adventure to celebrate our anniversary, of course extra measures are consider but I am pretty much sure that the weather will be just fine and in fact it is easier to survive in all water than in a dessert. You will know what I am trying to say here as I continue to share our experience of the climb.

Take 5 after trail running from Papaya River going down

Friday morning, good news the sun rises and shine so we thought it will be a good weather for our tomorrows climb. It has been weeks of monsoon rain already in Metro Manila and the weather in Mariveles, Bataan is another story. This is one good thing about mountaineering, you will learn how to be a weather man and you should know it because the safety of your group sometimes depends on it. Again we will not risk the lives of our group when the weather is really extreme at the outback.

Hours before our climb, I committed to meet my high school friends at San Pedro, Laguna first for a drinking session and we are to celebrate Denby’s fatherhood because finally his wife Camille gave birth to Cadeu (nice name and sounds like my father’s name Tadeo) and it will be good because I still have time to sleep or rest at the bus going to Mariveles. Me, Topetot and Denby preferred to drink rhum (Fundador is the brand) without Bernard again and his reason it is raining. Yeah, rain or shine drinking sessions like this should not be missed. Funny about this is, he is already aware of the drinking session ahead maybe a week or so. The three of us understand him and we’ve laughed about it. Okay, enough of the side story about my BFF’s.

HRA Clan of 99 BFF's

The drinking sessions of the best Engineers of HRA Clan of 99 w/o Mose. LOL!

After the drinking session, me and Tope went home going to Manila not so sober and rain started to pour again. So, this is it, I’ve waited if I will receive a message that the climb is off but none come to my inbox so I know it will pursue. If not, me and my friends will continue to drink instead haha. Tope and I have a little conversation about work and all then eventually he dropped off the bus somewhere between Taft and Buendia Station haha I really can’t remember because I fall asleep already at that time while me should get out of the bus at Genesis Bus Terminal in Cubao.

At the bus, I’ve received messages from A keeping track of my whereabouts and I said I’m on my way and I know I’m in Edsa already but still can’t see nothing outside to see landmarks of my whereabouts because of rain and of course sleepy head. I just asked the bus conductor to wake me up near Genesis Bus Station and so he did. Perfect timing, I’m not the last person to arrive, I’m not yet eliminated (Is this Amazing Race Mariveles haha). I took a pee and prepare for our next destination and make sure my things inside my pack is water proofed. At this moment, we are all in the bus and I don’t know what is happening already, passengers may come and go but I managed to get a deep sleep of course still securing my things with me. It’s a 3 or 4 hours’ drive so I can get enough sleep by then and I get it.

We dropped off at the Barangay Hall of Alas-asin to prepare, eat breakfast and register (Php 20/hiker). We assess the weather and the group has to decide to whether pursue or not and my decision is to continue and no going back while 3 from the team wanted to go back home. The total head count of the group is 12 minus Bryan, Wena and partner so only 9 of us decided to challenge Karen (The storm) so we registered at the Barangay Hall and had a brief group discussion before we go.

Alas-asin Barangay Hall

Alas-asin Barangay Hall

A said that he will call it off if the group of participants is larger than group of 15 for the safety of the group. Good thing we are downsized to 9 and it is manageable for this type of weather. I am pretty confident for the team and the climb will be successful is just that the group has only one concern or it could be just me as a first time participant Cristine or iTin for short is with us and we don’t know her capabilities when it comes to some sort of explore climbs.

We will not call ourselves L.O.S.T. for nothing right? The specialty of the group is trail blazers, traverse climbs and explore climbs that oftentimes leads to being lost. For the safety of iTin I pledge to watch over her and make sure her safety during the whole climb. She was recommended by one of our colleague at work so it is our responsibility to make sure she will come back in one piece. This task could have been Dingdong’s haha but for him I will take care of it. You owe me one my man.

Start trek, it’s an about 800 meters to 1 Kilometer trek to Manang’s Bahay Kubo (Nipa hut) to register again and have a sip of hot coffee for free or with pay. I’m not sure haha. When we reach the house of Manang’s we listed our names and go overtaking 2 groups and we need to secure a great camp and we wanted to be isolated. It is for the safety of the group not that we are anti-social but we wanted our bonding is within the group only that’s the plan and so we did. At the first hour of trek we followed the trail then eventually A got bored and decided to re-route our way to the summit and this is it the taste of the L.O.S.T. way again. This is where I get excited and my adrenaline rush pumped up. We reached a beautiful view of the many falls at a far distance that you can see in the picture below and started to use the traditional trail again.

The view of the mountain side with falls.

The view of the mountain side with falls in our take 5 going to the summit.

The view from far side of the mountain - many falls

The view from far side of the mountain where you can see series falls.

Take a closer look of the falls.

Take a closer look of the falls.

We are now climbing up a muddy trail when a not so famous male celebrity 🙂 (a villain in the movies usually haha) and his friend or PA (personal assistant) showed up in full packs. He’s sweat is all over his body  because he topless . Who wouldn’t recognize his beard and the killer eyes. You wanted to know who he is well he’s none other than the brother of Judy Ann Santos. Yeah you heard it right he is Jeffrey Santos. He is in fact the one approached us before we even greeted him and said some funny things about mountaineering and I got curious when he said the word “Crevice” and I can’t wait to search Google haha. It’s a jargon to me but now I know the meaning and it is a narrow opening resulting from a split or crack.

The raging waters going down the falls.

The raging waters going down the falls.

It was like a 5 to 10 minutes of chit-chat to this good guy in person and bad guy in his roles he then said that he is with his theater act mates but actually we know that Rica Peralejo is with them and some other celebrities or circle of friends who love to climb. I wanted to see Rica or Paula but we took a different trail by going left and not to take the traditional trail as A leads us.

The man in charge is no other  than Ed Grij

The man in charge is no other than Ed Grij

On our way to the new trail or whatever, the beauty of nature and my ideal trail is what I see, the forest is so calm, you can hear the waters dipping and a bonus. I’m leading the team at this time that I get to see some monkeys jumping from one tree to another. A lovely birds that fly away when we are too near to them, some colorful butterflies and a nice preserve yet established trail.

A's mini wild life friend.

A’s little creature at the wild.

Minor head injury of our great leader and trailblazer A.

Minor head injury of our great leader and trailblazer.

By the looks of it, the trail is rarely been traveled on because you wouldn’t easily see it if you are to follow the traditional trail. It is like a hidden gate to paradise. A confessed that he also love it so much haha. After this cool and paradise like trail we finally reached the river until we met the end of the trail. We the raging waters from the river.

My one and only picture at the top of the falls.

My one and only picture at the top of the falls.

All waters is around us and it is impossible to cross to the raging waters of the rivers. We decided to stop and eat our lunch but we had to cross a river first and the best and safest way is through the water falls so we help each other in crossing. I created a human bridge so that the girls in our group had something to hang on. First water crossing of the group for the day.

Paul Henry our lead man and snipping dawg of the group. Good job Paul!

Paul Henry our lead man and snipping dawg of the group. Good job Paul!

We look for a mini base camp and bring out our packed lunch and boiled hot water for a hot coffee. When we finished eating our packed lunch, A and Paul is on a mission to find the best and safe route going up and out of the river quickly before it gets dark for the group.

A examining the water and the best way out going to the camp site

A examining the water in the river if passable and to see the best way out going to the camp site

They asked me if I wanted to join the recon nah I decided to take a power nap to regain back my energy and because I am too sleepy and already catching my breath.

The brave women to experience wet and wild adventure during our packed lunch.

The brave women to experience wet and wild adventure during our packed lunch.

Christian, Roma and Dave during our lunch break

Christian, Roma and Dave during our lunch break

Even if it is still raining I managed to get a nap by just covering my head and they woke me up saying it’s time for us to trek again. We had to cross by the river again for us to get to the other side of the mountain. On our way down the river, I was still sleepy and decided to stay at the middle of the pack. My body is still on the process of waking up and not yet fully aware of what we are heading when I’m soaked out of the water when I misstep on the big rocks going up good thing Paul is holding my left hand and never let me go. The water current is really heavy and that if I made just a little mistake I will be drowned and goes down to the river like a big log into the falls. A said that the water is like whirlpool and I was lucky to get out there no harm done. I said to them, well, I need it so that I will be awake and now I am fully awake haha.

The wild river crossing. Dare not to understimate this if will get your life back in split seconds.

The wild river crossing. Dare not to underestimate this if will get your life back in split seconds.

I didn’t feel terrified or so anything after that incident in fact I feel more calm at that time. I know it was Jesus who soaked me to the water to bring back my alertness and be ready to our next journey going up. On our way up, A told us that we will ascend as long as we could but if we reached 4 o’ clock in the afternoon we had to stop and look for a camp site. After hours and hours of climbing up it’s almost 4pm but we still haven’t reach the summit so we started to look for a base camp. The plan is to camp near a water source but that is not possible because we are at the middle of a ridge or something good thing it is raining. We took our time gathering for water from the rain and filled our water bottles. There are many techniques to gather water from the rain and the fastest way is through the trunk of a tree where more lush of water is coming down.

Kalongkong Hiker vs The Raging Waters

Kalongkong Hiker vs The Raging Waters. Mins before I get drowned at the water after a misstep and out balance.

After gathering camp water to be used in cooking and of course as a chaser for the alcoholic drinks for our socials we pitch our base camp while others set up their tent and change clothes. We cooked “Siningang na Baboy” – Braised Pork with Tamarind, Spicy Cheese Sticks prepared by iTin (one that you missed Dingdong if you’re reading this haha) and bunch of “Lumpiang Shanghai” brought and cooked by Dave and his group. While cooking me, A and Paul started to drink “Lambanog” – a Filipino wine made from coconut. We drink this to fight the cold and watery night and to  get our body warm all night. When cooking is done we commenced eating and had social night but it didn’t last we need to sleep early to regain our strength back. Our base camp became me, A and Paul’s shelter for tonight. Yeah Bivouac System baby, we call it “Bear Grylls style” of his famous Man vs. Style TV Series for surviving the wild with just his knife and his fling for fire haha.

The base camp and Ed Grij. This will be our shelter for the night after socials. BV System it is!

The base camp and Ed Grij. This will be our shelter for the night after socials. BV System it is!

Jen the chef of the night.

Jen the chef of the night.

Itin and his first socials night with Team L.O.S.T.

Itin and his first socials night with Team L.O.S.T.

Our only hope of surviving the cold night relies on our sleeping bags and each other body heat. Good thing when we lay our back to the ground sheet the rain stops for the moment and the first 2 to 3 hours of sleep is a good night sleep for all of us I hope but it seem it does.

My night gown. Rice sack to fight cold nights.

My night gown. Rice sack to fight cold nights. The original Goretex only in the Philippines.

At the middle of my sleep I woke up to take a pee but when I am trying to get back to sleep I couldn’t anymore because raining resumes and it’s like water-bed in my sleep already I can feel the lush of water in my head and the song of Gloc 9 “Sirena” keeps playing on my mind. WTF! is going on I said to myself, so I tried to look for Paul’s bottle of Lambanog hoping that it will help me to get groggy but I couldn’t find it so instead I ate the remaining Sinigang and rice. That helped me get a sleep but not that much until I check my watch its already 3AM in the morning. I couldn’t sleep anymore and nature is calling me so I had to go outside and deposit this waste inside my stomach haha. It took me about 30 to 40 minutes to look for a nice and comfy spot to take a poof and thanked God I got it all out of my body. 🙂 I am ready for another day of eating again haha. 😀

I go back to our base camp and to help in cooking our breakfast and check everybody if they are still okay. Good thing no one was sick or anything from our group. I was happy and prayed that our next trek will be successful this time. We ate our breakfast and break camp and prepared for an ultimate ascend to the summit. The trail is going up and up and I can compare the trail to either Mt. Asog in Bicol or Mt. Makiling because of it technicalities. We even saw a part of the mountain that is dead maybe because of a thunder that burned that side of the mountain. Lose rocks is our enemy in this part of the climb, if we step on the wrong one any of us might fall down together with the rock so we took extra careful and shouting if a rock is falling and we are safe and sound when we reach the knife-edge after hours of trek of never-ending uphill.

Devastated side of the mountain, it sounds like it was hit by a thunder strike.

Devastated side of the mountain, it sounds like it was hit by a thunder strike.

Watch out. Lose rocks ahead - famous line by Dudolf Mah Man...

Watch out. Lose rocks ahead – famous line by Dudolf Mah Man…

The winds are strong so everybody needs to duck or crawl to cross the knife-edge going to the summit. One last assault and we reach the beautiful summit but sad to say it’s a zero visibility of the view because it is still raining so we had to go down as planned. Our descent is great that it is almost a walk in the park but I met the ultimate challenge I slipped too much. Now, I can different my Merrel and New Balance trail shoes. When I use Merrel Optinum (Goretex) I feel a lot of traction even if it is mud all over the trail but this NB Water Shoe that I am wearing it is not so good, no traction at all and I slipped too much. This shoe is good for river crossing because it dries quickly but not so good in wet surfaces even if it has a Vibram sole on it because of this I need to buy a all-terrain trail shoe that is so light, have a good traction and dries quickly. Can anyone recommend a shoe for me?

Going down, there are lots of river crossings and I stayed at the back of the back and tasked to be the sweeper for the group. Good thing I am the last person to go down and only iTin saw me sliding down the mud haha. I really hate my NB shoe at this time that I almost wanted to take it off and started to hike barefoot but I patiently crawled my ass going down until we reached a fully established trail where A is waiting for us because we might end up on a wrong trail. It’s a point where we might get lost so good thing A waited for us. Thanks man!

My kinda solo shot. I was left behind because I'm the only lazy camper this time. LOL

My kinda solo shot. I was left behind because I’m the only lazy camper this time. LOL

On our way down, I challenged iTin to catch up with me but unfortunate things do happen, iTin mistep and hurt her ankle but she recovered quickly and I was thinking it will really slow us down now. I just motivated her that we can do it and we will take it very slow. I ended up asking her to give her pack to me but she said no and that she can still walk. I massaged her injured foot and see if it is really bad and upon the looks of it she’s still okay and we can still go down with the same pace. Here I started to talk to her about things personal and about work haha, on our down by the way, what I always do is to sit down wait for like 3 to 5 minutes and let her left me then I had to catch her down so we rarely talked to each other haha. 🙂

New climbing buddies Roma and Dave

Meet my new climbing buddies Roma and Dave.

Finally, we reached Papaya River where a smell of human wasted welcomed me argh, that’s not good I am very thankful we didn’t pitched our tents here just like everybody else does. There are like 10 groups or could be more set up their camps. The first group cooked for our lunch before we finally go down the mountain. While waiting for the meal I go down at the Papaya river and washed up the muds on my body with the others in my group. After washing up we ate our lunch and did a little siesta and I decided to go down early with iTin with me and so that the rest of the group could catch up on us. I know that they will catch on us soon and I am still thinking of iTin’s foot injury that could really slow her down.

Thanks God Almighty for the good weather and for your creations. The Mountains!

Thanks God Almighty for the good weather and for your creations. The Mountains!

This is my first time to take a the lead role going down together with Jen so I planned of running on the trails to simulate a trail running scene and to get a feel of it for our 2nd leg or final leg of Nature’s Trail Discovery Run organized by PIMCO Sports and accredited by PTRA (Philippine Trail Running Association) and I did it like an hour and it was a good feel because the trail going down is wide and rolling. When I reached a certain point of the trail there is a congestion already, I met a group of girls going down so it is time for me to sit and wait for my group.

A is the first to arrive and talk to me that iTin is slowing down Paul and asked me to sweep her again and so I did, I told Paul to go ahead and I’ll accompany iTin. Paul is the fastest of the group going up and down. You bet he is not a human he is one of our hard core support crew. Thanks Paul for the support and always there for us.

Going down, I finally see a road and familiar trail going to Manang’s house and here A is waiting for us again. The rain is really heavy that I raised my hands up and looking up just like when I was a kid enjoying the dips of rain to my face. I started to run like a horse to do a trail run again, I even told A that I will run as fast as I could and wait them at the registration. After 10 to 20 minutes of waiting A and iTin arrived at Manang’s house and we continued our hike down to the barangay hall to meet the rest of the group and wash up.

The Barangay Hall & Me

What a small world because I didn’t expect that I will saw my high school classmate here they also climb Tarak but they are not successful in summitting it. I recognized Stranksky Pagaduan on the way she walks at far and then shouted her name and responded. We chit chat a little and bids goodbye without getting her contact number for possible class reunion. I can’t find her in Facebook or YM and she is not responding on the email that’s why.

We waited turns for the shower until all of us took a bath and catch up the last bus at the highway still Genesis bus where filled my most mountaineers and I am the only one standing and wait for somebody to get out of the bus so that I could sit also. 😦 At the bus, we looked back at the mountain that we climb, Paul is pointing at the ridge of mountain where it is not visible in Day 0 of our climb, everyone else looked and appreciate the beauty of Tarak Ridge. I stand for like an hour because I could sit and take a sleep. They woke me up when we are in Edsa already. Me and iTin dropped off at Quezon Avenue then I hear my stomach is grumbling so I ask her if she wanted to eat before going home it is past 9pm anyways. We ordered at Mc Donalds, ate and have a little conversation, thanked to each other and go home.

Thanks A, Jen, Dave, Roma and Christian, Paul, Caprice and Cristine for the successul and memorable wet and wild anniversary climb O’ddventure of L.O.S.T. I am looking forward to celebrate our anniversary next year and hope it is not as wild as this haha. 🙂 :-D. Cheers!

About Kalongkong Hiker

I am Paolo Mercado for 20 years I've been riding a bike, walking a lot and running a lot. I am Kalongkong Hiker, a trail runner, mountaineer and a biker that can also write a blog of my travels, adventures and places that I visited through walking, running and biking. I write to encourage others to stay healthy and fit. #KeepOnRunning #ShareTheRoad #KalongkongHiker
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