The Long and Winding Joke: Tapulao Crunch

Three years in the making. Several invitations. Finally, it’s about to conquer me. I am about to surrender to its beauty, mystery, magnificence and harsh conditions. 

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Will I succumb to defeat? Will I give in to pressure? Will I lose this battle against myself? Will my knees tremble like in the name of love?

This is the outdoors Julius. Leave love for the meantime. 😄

Departing the PNMS headquarters before Friday midnight brought us to the unassuming community of early Filipino settlers, the Aetas, in Dampay Salaza in Palauig, Zambales (close to six hours of driving).

Nanay Beth and her co-tourism personnel greeted us with warm smiles and gladly organized all information-gathering for our group of ten. Registration fee is at 30pesos per hiker/visitor while guide/porter fee is pegged at 700pesos (going up and down the mountain, weight limit should stay within 15kgs).

A quarter before seven saw our steps land into the world of solitude and unknown. Desolate and lonely, this is the once-mining location for chromite. And even in small-scale, it continues to do so.

Wide and rocky, trucks used to take this road up to almost 2000masl. I almost got my panghilod here 🙂

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It was a sight to behold as the trail began to show us an exact opposite of what’s instore for every hiker who challenges himself here. The West Philippine Sea is inviting together with its long coastline. I could just remember my one-day surfing escapade. And I ended-up with no washboard abs.

The adrenaline inside me pumped that much excitement in me that carried us into KM7 first water source in less than three hours.

“That was quick. Good pace!”, our trusted leader told us.

“We should be there as early as two or three in the afternoon. Let’s have lunch at the 10km mark second water source,” he added.

We pushed on. As hard as we can, still smiling and just being the students of life that we are. We marveled at God’s creation. Life is beautiful though the journey might suggest otherwise.

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The halfway mark already provided a glimpse of what’s to come. Kuya Jimmy is now suffering from cramps. I dread this. And another dreadful situation would be rain pouring from giant dark cottons in the sky.

“We’re already there,” I mumbled. We will all be there, my personal belief kicking in after a hearty lunch of spicy pork and beans and some good old crackers.

I brought the rear of the group. This gave me some time to recover as well. I am heavy as well as my pack. The rain started to join in on the fun too. Darn!

Deceit killed me. The smiling flowers along the first pine forest area provided much energy boost until I learned I’m still far from finishing the enduring task of getting into campsite.

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The windchill factor never joined the equation. Good! Someone we enjoyed the path of false hope. 

“We’re still far from campsite,” Kuya Wilmer, our guide told us.

That place gave us just enough to finish the task. The rain really poured it in this time. The cold situation that I am in fast tracked my cramps. 🙂

I would stop by at every curve and before every assault. I am gathering enough energy to propel me to the next hurdle.

The finally, kilometer15 where the guard house is. Campsite alas! And we don’t have to trek until kilometer17 or so to pitch camp. Sweet! And it’s just about around four in the afternoon. ❤

We took the opportunity of fixing our camping area while the rain is on break. We did it and hurriedly prepared an early dinner.

Due to unrelenting rain, we skipped the classic socials segment. Pack-up!

Next thing I knew, I was in dreamland snoring. And soon enough, I was up again. The wind was just howling throughout the night.

But as with every story, morning will come and rise from the east.

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And it’s time to claim the prize. Off to the summit! After breakfast that is.

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After fixing some things, we hurried off to the summit.

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It’s still close to two hours of trekking to the summit from the campsite and I passed by some interesting things to see like the one below.

 

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The world tree at the summit was magnificent as well as the numerous flora in the area. 

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Summit was reached around nine. We would trek back to camp before ten and proceeded as required, reaching basecamp just in time for meryenda. 🙂

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What this climb taught me is to be patient. What this climb instilled in me is the proper attitude when nothing goes right according to plan. What this climb would like to express is to continue for as long as we endure and persevere, a great reward is just waiting around the corner.

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