I promised to myself that I would never go night trekking again, but the wee early hours of June 28 found me, Justin, and Jerson carefully treading through wet and muddy trails to reach the peak of Mt. Daraitan before anybody else. Why? Just so we’d be able to watch the sun rise and watch the waves of clouds cascade over Sierra Madre’s other peaks. I don’t know if Daraitan’s sea of clouds poses a threat to Pulag’s famous morning scenery, but it sure was spectacular.
Until the campers came.
Honestly, guys. Noisy hikers and campers are probably the worst thing ever in the morning, especially if you’re just trying to bask in the beauty that’s right in front of you. Oh, and not to mention the red-and-orange spiky caterpillars all over the limestone formations.
But yeah, let’s start from the beginning!
The Daraitan trip was supposed to be an overnight trip. I borrowed a nice 4-person tent from a family friend, and Justin and I invited a lot of people. All of them backed out, however, for reasons that remain unknown until this day. It was only Jerson who was 100 percent game, even though we all know he’s going to be the third wheel. Lels.
Since I really really wanted to experience the sunrise on top of a mountain, we modified the itinerary posted on Pinoy Mountaineer and made our way to Tanay, Rizal around 10 in the evening of June 27. From Tanay, we hailed a tricycle to take us all the way to Brgy. Daraitan deep in the middle of nowhere. Since the road on the way to the jump-off point was pretty rough, and not to mention dark, we were charged PHP500. I KNOW, RIGHT? So expensive! But we had no other choice.
The tricycle ride took about 30 minutes to an hour and it was a pretty interesting trip. On the way to the jump-off point, we passed by two men who were completely COMPLETELY comfortable walking in the darkness in the middle of nowhere at 12 MIDNIGHT. I honestly got quite scared because what kind of sane person would walk in the darkness in, I repeat, THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, without any flashlight or whatever.
We finally got to the jump-off point around 1:30 in the morning of June 28. As usual, we did all the necessary stuff such as bathroom breaks and of course, registration. We also got a guide, which is required if you’re planning on hiking up Mt. Daraitan. Since we’re not really camping but we require the guide’s services for quite some time, we had to pay PHP750. Again, we had no choice.
It was a really quick hike up to the peak, if I do say so myself. It was my first time to hike on wet and muddy trails. I almost slipped a few times. It was a continuous ascent all throughout, but taking smaller steps really helped. We got to the peak at around 4 in the morning, then Justin and I took a quick nap.
An hour or so later, I woke up because of the cold. I know Pulag is going to be at least 20x colder so I really don’t know how I’m going to survive lol. By that time, the sun started to rise. We all got up and watched the beautiful scenery unfold. Also, we hurried to the limestone formations to take pictures because, unfortunately, we started to hear the voices of the hikers who stayed the night at the mountain. So there goes appreciating nature in peace and solitude.
We only stayed there for an additional twenty minutes before deciding to head down to Tinipak River. The trail we took was even muddier and wetter than the one we took hours earlier. I was also nursing a little “tampo” towards Justin because we weren’t able to take a nice couple picture at the peak because he was so “maarte” about the caterpillars, so I was leading the way lol. I was quiet for the whole 2-3 hour descent to Tinipak River.
By the time we finally reached the river area, I was already okay hahaha. Drama queen me, I’m sorry. We made a little sidetrip to one of the caves in the area. Then it was time to look for a nice spot where we can eat our brunch and bathe in the river. Yaaaaay!!!!
We started the hike back to the jump-off point around noon. Basically we were in the Daraitan-Tinipak area for roughly 12 hours. As soon as we reached the barangay hall, we changed clothes and flagged another trike (another PHP500 down the drain) to take us to the terminal in Tanay. From there, we boarded a shuttle to Shaw Boulevard. We were back in the city by 4 in the afternoon.
All in all, it was a nice trip, albeit expensive. If you’re planning on going to Daraitan, the best way to lessen the expenses is to travel with a large group or bring your own car (that can handle rough roads). Of course the three of us split up the trike fees and the guide fee, but that’s still around a PHP600 contribution, you know.
I’ve also just decided to include a “highlights” part from now on.
- Stargazing on top of Mt. Daraitan — Since we had the peak all to ourselves, I was able to appreciate the dark night sky. I even managed to spot a shooting star and the International Space Station! I am ever so thankful for the lessons I had back in high school hehe.
- Taking a dip in Tinipak River — the water was so wonderfully cold that it managed to wash away all the tiredness I felt from the hike. It was enough to re-energize us so we can finish the whole hike.
- Sunrise and sea of clouds at Mt. Daraitan — It really was just beautiful. Definitely a must-see if you’re planning on camping in the mountain any time soon.
THINGS WE CAN IMPROVE ON
I think it’s really important to be mindful of the noise we make whenever we’re hiking so as not to disturb nature and other people present. That morning at the peak would’ve been perfect if not for the noisy groups, I swear. I should also mention that I’m disappointed with one particularly noisy group. We eavesdropped a little (it’s hard not to, come on) and managed to find out that they are Lasallians. Shame!! SHAAAAME!
We had to pay another fee when we got to Tinipak River. For me, it would be best to just pay everything in one go at the barangay hall instead of having to fish for your wallet to pay PHP10 for an “entrance fee.” And besides, why is there an entrance fee?
Overall rating: 7/10
I would come back with more people to split the expenses just to make the trip more affordable. It was a day hike/extended day hike, after all.