And I thought guides are supposed to know and lead the way. Up until this climb.
An ambitious dayhike traverse from the Magalang to Arayat trails ended on a rather mischievous note as we learned from the lead pack that our juvenile brothers from Brgy. Ayala on the Magalang side seemed to have lost the trail while already at the foot of Mt. Arayat.
Nevertheless, our group of nearly 25 reached Brgy. Baño at the Arayat side in under ten hours.
Through established trails to the North Peak, we traversed through an exciting ridgeline to the South Peak and continued on to a dense hunter’s trail until we got to the base of the mountain. The descent becomes a test of patience as one negotiates aimlessly through paths covered with trees, vines and roots.
It took the group only three hours to reach the first peak where one finds a communication tower and an army detachment. The peak, at 1,026 MASL, has a campsite and a great view of the flat agricultural lands of Pampanga. The Pampanga river can be seen snaking through the rice fields. After a half-hour lunch break, we resumed the climb. The trek to the second peak (1,008 MASL) takes only about two hours. We passed by White Rock before reaching the southern peak where we stopped for the customary photo ops. It then progresses to a three- to four-hour descent via the Arayat trail.
There is military presence in Mt. Arayat as news of NPA resistance prevails. It is advisable to secure a guide for local and military coordination. Prior to the start of the climb, mountaineers register at the military detachment at the Magalang side. At the Arayat side, mountaineers can wash up at one of the resident’s houses for a minimal fee.
Below is a sample dayhike itinerary.
04:00 Assembly at Victory Liner Cubao station
04:30 Depart for San Fernando, Pampanga
06:00 Arrive at San Fernando
06:30 Take jeep to Magalang town
07:00 Arrive at Magalang; breakfast
08:00 Take jeep to jumpoff
08:30 Arrive at Brgy. Ayala
09:00 Start of trek
12:00 North Peak; lunch
12:30 Resume trek
14:30 South Peak
19:30 Arrive at Brgy. Baño; wash-up
20:30 Depart for San Fernando; if you miss the last bus trip, take jeep to Dau bus terminal
21:00 Depart for Metro Manila