thank god this one did, though. and it didn't even give me much trouble! booking the tour was a breeze, and the only thing that was hard about this whole pinatubo trip was the actual trek.
we arrived at the pinatubo development corporation (PDC) at 930am, just as our seahorse itinerary indicated. when we got off the seahorse van, there were already a number of 4x4s parked on the side of the road. bernardine and elvie led us into the PDC spa, and let us rest for a bit. i changed into something more "climb-worthy," and then we were off to the mt. pinatubo skyway.
from PDC, the ride took an hour. it was a rocky drive, and it was so hard to take decent pictures while on the 4x4. so i asked our driver to pull over at one site so i can have some photos to take home. what i didn't know was that the 40-minute trek would give me more sites to take photos of.
after an hour of bouncing on the dusty road, the 4x4 parked at a clearing. from this point, we were to walk the rest of the way. there was a sign that said, "walking distance, 40 mins." i thought it was going to be pretty easy, because i was told it was an easy climb, but boy, was i ill-advised!
the first pinatubo challenge was the trek down a steep incline--both hard to climb up and hike down from. when hiking down from it, you risk slipping if you don't have the right footwear (or the right FOOT).
after hurdling this challenge, we were greeted by a group of aetas washing their clothes by a narrow stream. i took my time and took photos of the surroundings, which had various rock sizes scattered among it. i decided to check out the road ahead: yep, it was also full of rocks. thank god i wore my tribus.
our hike to the pinatubo crater took more than 40 minutes. we completed the trek in about an hour. we had to maneuver our way through streams, and figure out our paths through a maze of rocks, and i found it pretty exciting. i haven't embarked on a real adventure in a long time, and this was a definite shock to my unexercised body. still, i was pretty proud that i didn't stop in the middle of the trek to wheeze and plead for a break.
there was one point in that pinatubo hike where you will know that you're really close to the crater. you can feel the change in temperature from your last step to the next--one was incredibly warm, the other soothingly cool. i was getting weary at this point, but feeling that cool air really got me excited, giving me just enough adrenaline to finish the rest of the climb.
and what you see after that hard climb is worth all the sweat. i know that's been said a number of times, but it being an overused phrase doesn't make it less true. it's just that people will have no other way to say it, pinatubo really is a worthwhile climb.
you see the water in the crater, which is a beautiful shade of blue (my knowledge of colors only run the gamut of primary colors, so you just decide what particular shade it is), and it's bordered by mountains covered in a carpet of green. the mist adds a little mystery to the photos you take, making everything even more mysterious to people who've never been there.
after taking x number of photos of the pinatubo crater, our aeta guide told us that the way to the crater is through some man-made stairs. i was relieved to hear that, for i couldn't take any more climbing, but as it turned out, the descent was even more grueling than the hike. the stairs they made had gaps that are about three to four times bigger than stairs that i'm used to.
but after that, i was happy to be by the lake. we took out our purefoods corned beef pan de sals, and had a mini picnic by the crater. i tested the waters and found it to be freezing cold. but i wasn't going to pass up the chance to swim in a volcano crater!
we hung around the crater for about an hour or two, taking photos and just marveling at the fact that we were in the crater of pinatubo, who just recently exploded and made a huge impact on the world.
so back we went, this time really feeling the challenge of the stairs going up to the viewing deck. but the hike back from the pinatubo crater was much easier, and we even overtook a group that left 30 minutes ahead of us. i guess that's what corned beef pan de sal and some sulfur can do to you. :D
more photos of my pinatubo adventure here.