Reaching the Parrot's Beak, or for others the Monolith, the Torre, or the Rock Column, of Mt. Palay-Palay (Pico de Loro) in Ternate, Cavite has been part of my bucket list of must visit places even before I got struck by this hiking addiction. When I first saw its picture lurking on my facebook home, and my initial reaction was "how the hell did they get there?"
My lust for adventure made me want reach its top, that's why when we climbed Mt. Palay-Palay last 21st of August (woohoo to my 18th mountain), I did not let the opportunity of climbing up the monolith pass.
Tuesday - August 21, 2012
Many times I planned a dayhike at this mountain, but all ends up to cancellation or climb-up-a-different-mountain-instead. Buti na lang ay nagkaroon bigla ng imbitasyon mula sa isang kaibigan, a Pico de Loro dayhike she said (syempre join na ako dito).
We went to Baclaran at 4 am to catch an early Ternate-bound bus. In no time, a bus came before us and our journey to Ternate, Cavite has started. I was planning to get a good sleep during the trip, but I failed to get one because of the funny Dolphy movie being shown on the bus' TV.
The Trike-Jeepney Incident
At 06:30 AM, after about an hour and half of travel, we finally reached Ternate. Hindi pa kami nakakababa sa bus, kinuyog na kami ng mga tricycle driver na hayok na hayok sa mga prospective pasaheros. We're a group of 13, we told them that riding a jeep would be a smarter decision. But they insisted that there is no jeep in the area. Seemingly, the trike drivers were telling the truth, so we agreed to ride them until the DENR jump-off. We're just a meter away from their tricycle when suddenly a jeepney arrived, syempre lumipat kami kagad sa jeep.
What happened next is a long argument between the tricycle drivers and the jeepney driver. Argh!!! Kinausap na namin yung tricycle driver na jeep naman talaga yung gusto namin pero nagagalit sila kay manong jeepney driver na walang kamalay-malay na pinara lang naman namin. Pinagpipilitan nila na nang-agaw daw ng pasahero yung jeepney driver. Arggh! nakakaasar lang talaga, may magagawa ba sila kung jeep naman talaga ang gusto namin. At isa pa, mas mura naman tlga ang jeep (P50/head) kaysa sa tricycle (P75/head).
Anyway, our jeepney still prevailed, sorry na lang kila manong tricyle driver.
Hiking Up Mt. Palay-Palay
We arrived at the DENR jump-off at 7:30 AM, registered and paid the necessary fee (P20). The whole group were first timers in Pico de Loro, we have no idea where the trail starts. The woman assigned at the DENR directed us back to the road and walk until we see the bamboo bench, the trail begins there. As we were walking towards the bamboo bench, we noticed that two dogs were leading our group (wow, instant guide). We simply followed them until the bamboo bench was sighted.
|Just arrived at the DENR|
|start of trail, ayun ang bamboo bench|
I thought the dogs will leave us from that point but surprisingly they did not, they guided us all the way to the summit, hurrah. The trail from the bamboo bench to the base camp was relatively easy and wouldn't lead you to wilderness. With the obvious trail signs and a dog guide with us, getting lost was unlikely to happen. It was however a muddy trail, some parts actually still have running water along the trail (sobrang lakas daw kasi ng ulan the day before).
|our dog guide|
|there are signage like this on the trail|
At 08:35 AM, we reached the base camp. Again, there's a registration fee (P20). They're also selling some souvenir items and ice cold drinks for the thirsty hikers, but as expected, it's quite pricey.
|souvenir items for sale|
We resumed the trek at 08:45 AM. In the first hour of the trek, there were I think at least 3 river crossings, no steep trail was encountered but it was entirely muddy.
|we passed by the waterfalls junction|
Past the tall alibangbang tree, the trail started to gain steepness. Roots were all over, resembling the trails of Mts. Cristobal and Arayat. The rooty trail then transcends into a bamboo forest trail, then a rooty trail again. It was alternating until we reach the saddle campsite.
A misty saddle campsite welcomed our group, visibility was limited up to about 5 meters away. Gusto ko na sana mag-summit while waiting for other to arrive, but I really had no idea where the trail leading to summit is located. So I assumed that the obvious trail (yung trail na papunta sa water source) will lead me to the summit. Pero mali ako, bigla na lang ako napadpad sa isang trail na maraming ligaw, kaya naisip kong bumalik na lang. When I got back, the whole group was about to finish lunch, nyahaha.
|misty saddle campsite|
When the mist subsided a bit, the Parrot's beak suddenly came out (wahaha, I realized na nasa kabilang side pala ng saddle yung summit, mali yung trail na pinasok ko a while ago).
|the dog was still with us. the best ka!|
While most of us chose to sleep, me and three others chose to pose and take some pictures. Inaabangan namin mag-clear yung view. But as we waited for the clouds to subside, more and more clouds embraced the summit.
|the rare moment that the whole peak is visible|
Only by 2 PM when we decided to assault the summit albeit it was still cloudy. The trail to summit is located to the right of the saddle campsite. At first I thought that it will be an easy assault, but the steepness and the loose rocks that compose the trail makes it a bit challenging.
|the summit marked by a red flag,|
from this point, my camera ran out of battery, kainis.
No parrot's beak (monolith) was seen from the summit. Clouds almost completely cover the 360 degrees view from the top. Paminsan-minsan lang sumisilip yung monolith. Pero yung paminsan-minsan na yun ang pumukaw sakin sarili na akyatin ang monolith. My feet just suddenly brought me towards the foot of the monolith (arggh, namatay na talaga camera ko, hndi ko tuloy naidokyumento yung pag-akyat ko).
The rope wasn't there anymore so I relied solely on the cracks and rough edges on the rock. I got no experience with sports climbing or wall climbing so it was really hard for me to climb up the monolith. It took me about 5 minutes to get pass through that challenging portion of the rock (I swear, nanginginig tuhod ko sa part na yun). Then I mumbled, "Paano ko kaya iyon bababaain mamaya?"
The feeling was so great when I successfully reached the top of the Parrot's beak, sobrang sarap lang talaga sa pakiramdam kahit na walang view sa paligid.
|photo of me at the monolith, cloudy, |
too bad I did not bring with me my beloved hat.
I was about to descend the rock (after about 10 mins) when one of my companions, Byron of peculiarhours.com, just came out from nowhere. He followed me pala to the monolith (ayos, dalawa kaming nakapag-monolith). Naks, looks like a monster is in the making, talagang nakikita ko ang eagerness and lust for adventure ni Byron. For sure he'll become a bonafide mountaineer in the future.
It's getting late, almost 3:00 PM. Our instinct told us to start the descent, medyo atrasado na kami sa itinerary kaya it's no longer advisable to side trip to the falls. We started descending Mt. Palay-Palay at 03:10 PM.
Fast Forward >>> At around 5:30 PM, I was back to DENR station, tricycles were already there waiting again for prospective passengers. I was the first to reach the liguan (medyo binilisan ko kasi ang paglalakad) so I took the chance right away. The climb was a success.
Mt. Palay-Palay (Pico de Loro) completed. Officially it is my 18th mountain.
Note: Some from our group overlooked the arrow trail sign engraved in a tree on their way back to DENR, thus, they lost their way for about an hour.
My Assessment of the Mt. Palay-Palay Trail
The trail to Pico de Loro is recommendable for beginners. More than half of the trail was undoubtedly very easy, and trail signs were all over. Seasoned hikers might think it is just a "walk in the park."
For me, the only challenging part of the trail is the final assault to the summit (masyado kasing steep).
Take note that the rope at the foot of the monolith is no longer there. Though it is still possible to climb up the monolith without the rope, I'm telling you, it's not that easy.
We did the hike from 07:45 AM to 05:30 PM (almost 10 hours), more than 2 hours of was spent on rests and photo ops.
It was overall a very nice and memorable climb, I enjoyed it, weather became cooperative (most of the time) and the whole team is fun to be with, yeah awesome!