Since we were already in the area after going to Donsol
we decided to
try to climb the perfectly symmetrical slopes of Mt. Mayon just outside
of the dirty little charmless town of Legaspi
. Like everything else in
the Philippines it was quite difficult to get get organized. There
were not proper tour companies offering packages to hike the volcano
but you were not allowed to do it without a guide. Everyone we talked
to said they knew a guide but it was pretty difficult to get a feel for
a good one from bad through broken English over the phone. We had
given up on doing the hike the following day when Bin showed up at our
Apparently he got my message and came to make a deal. we
eventually agreed to $75 for a one day hike which was expensive but in
line with what the book said it should be and a long way from his
initial quote of a whopping $200 (come on Bin). Part of the deal was
that we had to bring our own food.
was there waiting at 6:00 am the following morning in our private
Jeepney. I went to pick up our packed breakfast and lunch that we
ordered from the hotel restaurant the night before. I was disgusted at
what we got. There was almost nothing available on the
menu so we limited to egg and corned beef sandwiches. Or at least
that is what we thought we ordered. We got a bag of fried eggs, a bag
of bread, and a giant bag of disgusting corned beef soup.
There was no
way we were eating that. We got Bin to stop at a corner store and we
just bought enough snacks to get us through the day.
was overwhelming when the trail left the coveted cover of the trees and
left us exposed to the to bake. I was still a little sick and had some
congestion issues. My ears were not equalizing well on the way up.
The heat seemed to be boiling my brain making it swell. When the
pressure built up in my throbbing head the blood pumping though my ears
sounded like a helicopter in slow motion from a Hollywood flick. I
was sweating like white tourist eating his first Tai chili. I felt
bad for Brenden. He always sweats more than me and this day was no
exception. He was like a big faucet constantly flowing.
the clouds came after a couple hours because there was no way that we
could have kept going all day in that heat. It took about three hours
to get up to camp 1 which was close to the edge of the main treeline.
They called it a camp but there was really nothing there other than
four moss covered walls. Brenden was already starting to talk about
heading back from there and it was only 10:00 am. After a short rest
and a a little convincing we continued up.
The second part of
the hike was much more interesting. Only a few minutes from camp 1 we
got on to an old lava path. There were very interesting formations
making for great pictures and hard climbs. The rock was brittle there
were very steep sections making for a dangerous climb.
Bin told us to
be extra careful in a few places along the way were tourists had
recently slipped and died. We had a bit of a scare when the clouds
started turning black. Rain added into the mix could have made the
situation uncomfortably dangerous. Brenden made it clear that he was
ready to turn back whenever I wanted. I knew it could not be that bad
if our porter Perfecto, AKA Mute Perfection, was able to do it in flip
flops. I was not turning back. Camp 2 was as anticlimactic as
expected. There was no sign of any camp at all. It was nothing more
than a big rock in the middle of the lava river. It was nothing more
than a marker. The views were fantastic though. This was as high as
we were allowed to go because the volcano had recently been upgraded to
a alert 5 level.
The walk down was a relentless. We made good
time back to the main gate and were there by about 4:00. It was an
unpleasant surprise when Bin told us that we were not getting pick up
there. We had to walk another 45 minutes to his roofless house.
Brenden's fuse was pretty short by then. He was still getting over the
poops so he didn't want to drink the stream water. I was dehydrated
but he was much worse. We had o wait at Bin's place for another half
hour for the tricycle to make it's way down the bumpy dirt path to pick
us up. The shower back at the hotel was one of the best of my life.
Travbuddies: Brenden (Can)