A beautiful monster and devastation.The poster of how something so beautiful can be so destructive.
Last March 26, burning mountains loomed over the back of the northern campsite of Nagsasa Cove. Retiring early after a scorching traverse of Mt. Bira-Bira (a.k.a. Mt. Nagsasa), we awoke at 10:00 PM to the agitation of fellow campers, the loud crackling of bush fires and a fiery orange sky.
We quickly hauled our bags and carried our tents towards the beach. As the flames engulfed the dry terrain and the strong winds fanned the fire, it raged and threatened to advance until it hit the rocky base of the mountains. Heavy smoke stung our eyes and made breathing nearly impossible. We retreated to the southern part of the cove where this spectacular yet scary sight befell us.
Behold. “The common curse of mankind – folly and ignorance.”
Rising to 2,037 MASL, Mt. Tapulao’s cardiac trail, albeit wide, straightforward and clear, is covered with rocks over a 16-km steep path. The cool temperature, especially at night, affirms its being dubbed as the poor man’s Pulag.
Boring at first with the seemingly endless long and winding road to the campsite, Tapulao’s bareness transforms with the beauty of pine trees and low-lying clouds greeting mountaineers at the last quarter of the climb. The absence of Mr. Sun was welcomed as the trail has no cover. Intermittent rainshowers made the eleven-hour trek bearable and actually fun.
The trek to the summit is even better upon entering the so-called forest line. The view is your typical mossy forest with damp paths, overhanging branches and interesting flora dotting the trail. Blessed with a clearing, the view of neighboring Zambales mountains is clear at the summit.
Mt. Tapulao is located at Palauig in Zambales. Registration is required at the jump-off point in Barangay Dampay. If traveling via private vehicle, parking is available near the center. To get here by public transportation, take an Iba-bound Victory Liner bus from their Cubao or Pasay terminal. Tricycles can be arranged for Php150.00 per person to take you from the highway to the jump-off point (based on a conversation with a local at the welcome center).
Another major climb with a difficulty rating of 6/9, here’s our group’s actual schedule.
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Scenery at the back of the cove
Again, Lady Luck was on our side.
In our first pathetic attempt at a spur-of-the-moment getaway, my officemates and I brought our beach denizen arses to Pundaquit in Zambales last April 9 and 10. Our chosen spot for the long weekend used to be the mountaineering community’s hideaway. Until about five years ago, the Anawangin Cove was an unspoilt weekend destination for campers.
I have heard so much about this place and have wanted to visit it many years back. The words camping, wilderness, remote and no electricity set off each group of friends I invited.
The beach of the cove is quite interesting as it is a mix of white, brown and grey sand which gives it an ash-like appearance and texture. Another surprising feature of the cove are the agoho trees that line the beach, dot the camping grounds and grow by the banks of the stream at the back. The absence of electricity and even mobile network coverage makes it appealing for those seeking remoteness.
continue wandering here…