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Monday, September 8, 2008

4x4 ride and Trek to Mt. Pinatubo

Going to the crater lake of Mount Pinatubo, visitors will have to ride a 4x4 vehicle to drive through difficult terrain of mud, sand and rocky trail. It's like being inside a salt shaker but the scenery along the way makes the ride a one excellent experience.

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It takes about 45 minutes to reach the jump off trail for the trek itself. There used to be a so called "Sky Way" that takes visitors much nearer to the crater but at that time it was unpassable because of landslides caused by the rain the previous week. The trucks fits 4 people for reasons of convenience but could fit more if maximized. It was really my first time to ride over a truck in a terrain like the ones leading to the jump off of Mount Pinatubo - a real dirt and off road where the truck will pass through small streams of water, muddy soil and treacherous trail that it takes really skilled driving to avoid having the wheels of the truck get stuck in the most unsteady soil formation.

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The 4x4 trucks are driven by certified drivers who have a lot of experiences in maneuvering in this kind of trickery slopes, they have an organization of 4x4 drivers in Mount Pinatubo and ours was driven by their President so we were like secured that we won't roll over during some point on our trip. After 45 minutes we reached the start off point for another 2 hour trek to the crater. Going to Mt. Pinatubo is safe as long as you make sure the weather will be fine for a few days, because strong rains brings lahar, mud slides and deadly flash flood. 


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The hike isn't much difficult compared to my hiking days, the hike itself takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes, where you'll pass through what was once a thick forested area, which according to our guide was where hundreds of Aeta's used to live before the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.

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The eruption totally changed all that, as the path leading to the crater are now covered with sands, small riverbeds, rocks and traces of lahar.

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But eventually, you'll reach a place before the crater that is typical of any mountains in the Philippines where it is covered with green vegetation and trees.

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While walking you'll see the aftermath of the gigantic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and you cant help but wonder that the very same spot your feet threads on was once a place of utter destruction with massive lahar, lava, mud plowing through like a battering ram unmindful of whatever lays ahead of them.

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It gives you now a sense of bittersweet feeling, the scenic aftermath, the ruins of never more forested area now covered by a deluge of random elements of Earth. Water flowing along small river crossing that can grow big with heavy rains. All of it conspires to make it a very unique place and that's about along the way, come and wait for the grand attraction, the Mount Pinatubo crater lake.

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Mt. Pinatubo, definitely a place I'd love to come back again.

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