01 February 2006

Camping out at Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal Part 2

[recent readers, please refer to the post prior to this for Part 1. Thanks!]

Sensing that we were inclined to stay at the valley and set-up camp already, one of their leaders said: "May isa na lang kaya sa inyo na sumama sa amin sa camping site para makita nya? Tara para masaya! (How about if one of you come with us to inspect the site? Let's go! It'll be fun.)

I thought, what the heck. I'll go with them and explore a bit further. They said it was just near, wasn't it? Just over the bend. I volunteered myself and another of our companion to go. And I started changing into slippers. Eventually, my other companions also decided that we all go together. O'hana! O'hana means family! Nobody get's left behind! (Uh, nobody said that actually but it just slipped my mind)

So we donned our gear and started the trek anew. After all it was already near, right?

The final leg of the hike took more than a couple of hours more. But it was a most exciting adventure as we crossed streams, some with flowing water that's too strong to be called a stream. But the waters were all very clean and clear! In places where the water gushed forth, we refilled our now-empty canisters and drank. Mineral water from the source! We passed by a cave which we no longer explored.

One time it's trees and mushy ground (it had been raining for the past few days), another time, it's crossing streams, still at another time its hopping and climbing rocks and boulders. It was great.

But of course, it was also a bit tiring. Especially when the path turned upwards towards the mountain. We rested near the top of the hill and the tailing campers handed over some chocolate mallows when they realized we were quite hungry. After some chit chat, we proceeded on our journey. Just when we thought that the hike would not end, the path suddenly sloped down the hill and we could hear the raging waters below. I knew we were already quite near. It was the same feeling I got years ago when my office colleagues and I hiked off to Mt. Majayjay in Laguna. The path gradually descended and we could clearly hear the raging waterfalls ahead. Anticipation was high.

The path suddenly turned sharply down the hill. It was quite muddy, but thankfully there were bamboo railings to hold on to. After a few more minutes, we were finally there.

We camped on dry, rocky ground while the other campers moved on a bit further. Ben (our leader) had the initiative to cook rice beforehand so we were able to get our fill of a late meal and recover energy to tidy up the place and build the tents.

That night, we cooked dinner and ate under the bright stars. We saw Orion's belt and a couple of fireflies hovering lazily as we chatted about and laid down while roasting mashmallows by the campfire. We slept before midnight as the other camp continued on with their revelry a distance from us.

We were greeted in the morning by mist in the mountains. Beside our campsite runs a brook, which was a good thing because we would occasionally waddle about to wash our hands and feet, and even just have a dip and relax! Or just sit there while rinsing spoons and cookware. After breakfast, we tied a long piece of rope into the nearby trees and this served as anchor as we waded and swam in the swirling waters. The water current was strong enough to drag you even when you're sitting near the shore! A couple of eagles flew overhead. Even from a distance you will know that they were quite huge!

After a bountiful lunch, the other campers passed by while we packed and a couple waited for us a little beyond the hill. The trek back was quicker, and soon we were enroute to the busy streets of Manila, with curious onlookers wondering where we had gone off to. Wish they knew the fun weekend we had.
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