Mt. Pico de Loro is part of a protected Forest in Ternate cavite called Mt. Palay-Palay. At 664 meters above sea level, it is the highest peak in Cavite. North of it is the island of Corregidor, Nasugbu Batangas in the south, Maragondon Cavite on the east and the South China Sea on the west. It is a popular hiking site both for amateur and newbie mountaineers alike. One, at 2 ½ hour travel time, it’s very accessible from Manila. Two, because it is a minor climb, it appeals to people who are not necessarily professional climbers. In short, it is one of the easiest mountains to climb.
I organized a day-hike to Pico De Loro with some friends last Saturday, May 29. I’ve been planning to climb Pico since I got back from Pulag last April, which actually is funny because Pulag is a whole different level of climb.The plan was to pool together 10 people to join the trek, a small but manageable group. Eventually, only 8 of us were able to go, but I had invited 18 friends.
Meeting Place and Going to Cavite
5:40 am – We met at Mcdonald’s in Valero, Dela Costa, and waited until 6 for two more companions to arrive. Personally, I would rather hire a van to drive us all the way to Cavite than to commute by bus. While it may be more expensive than a bus fare, if the group is 10 or more, it’s relatively cheaper. Expect to pay around 300-320 per person for the transportation.
6:00 am – departure.
Going to Cavite, we took the South Luzon Express way, exit through Carmona and towards the road of Puerto Azul and Caylabne. The Magnetic Hill Sign in Ternate is where the jump off point is located. The Marine base camp is 30 minutes away. There’s another way to go to Pico through Nasugbu, Batangas.
Arrival at the DENR Office
8:30 – arrival at Mt. Palay-Palay/Mataas na Gulod National Park. The registration fee is Php20.00 per person, and the parking fee is Php50.00.
8:45 – start of trek.
Pico de loro is a relatively easier trek and is a good training climb for major climbs. God granted us good weather condition during the trek. It wasn’t too hot and it also didn’t rain, which was my worry because it rained the day before. But because of that, the trail became a little slippery and muddy.
Our first stop was at Base Camp 1 where another registration fee of Php20.00 per person was collected. There are houses in base camp and comfort rooms in case anyone needs to go. This is also where tents can be set up and where you can buy soft drinks. They don’t sell water here so it’s really advisable to have at least 2 liters of water enough to last the trek. After resting for 10 minutes, we were off.
11:30 – Getting to the summit of Peak 1 took us three hours. What made the trek bearable was the good weather condition, a canopy of trees giving us shade from the heat, and thank God for bamboos to hold on to. We made more stops after base camp, and also met climbers who were on their way back to base camp.
The summit of Peak 1 was like an oasis in a desert. I was glad I can put down my bag, sit on one of the rocks and marvel at the mountain ranges, thick forest covering and beaches that were all within sight. We spent 15 minutes or so resting at the peak, til it was time again to make our final ascent to the main summit.
This was the most tiring part of the trek. One, the trail was a vertical climb and two, it was slippery and there wasn’t much cogon grass to hang onto because they were all burned up most likely from a forest fire. But once we reached the summit of Pico de Loro, the crawl up seemed like ancient history. It was a sight to behold, and if there was one thing I was disappointed at, it was that the mountain was balding unlike the pictures I’ve seen where the grass was green and orange.
After resting and taking pictures, we went down a steep path to make our way towards the rocky outcrop which was going to be the highlight of our Pico de Loro climb.
The assault to the Rock
I did tell myself I wasn’t leaving Loro without climbing this, and I was going to be stubborn even if it meant I was climbing it alone.
12:00 – lunch at the foot of the monolith rock. We bought our lunch at Mcdonald’s where we had our breakfast. My Mcdonald’s chicken never tasted this good as I was so hungry the entire trek.
12:30 – From a distance, the rock formation looks scary and intimidating to climb. In fact, there were three guys ahead of us who checked whether it’s possible to climb it. I know it was, having researched about it and hearing from some friends who have climbed it themselves. When one of the guys fell, they decided not to climb at all. Now our EL Kuya Joel called out to me and asked me to take a look. There’s a rope that you can use to climb up the rock, but it was a bit short and one would need to climb a steep section before they could hold onto it. Fortunately, Kuya Joel brought an extra rope giving additional length to the worn out rope.
Now I didn’t use the rope and for some reason, I didn’t even have difficulty climbing the rock. I managed to climb up the steep section, carefully placing my foot on edges allowing me to pull myself up, and in two minutes, I was already on top. Kuya Joel, surprised, asked me, “Paano mo nagawa yun? Ang lakas mo ah.” I honestly thought it was very easy, but I think that’s because of three things: my small frame, my experience in wall climbing, and also because of gymnastics. I can stretch myself and can carry myself better than others. And when I was up there, I was telling myself, this feels so natural to me. Perhaps I’m made for rock climbing?
We went in two batches. First batch was with Don, Paolo, Kuya Joel and myself, while the others take our pictures. When we got the peak of the rock (Peak 2), the sight was breathtaking! I was just at a loss for words and I just…shouted! I was calling out Liselle and the others, but I don’t think they heard us. I said a short prayer of thanks to God for giving us the opportunity to see such beauty and to enjoy his creation.
1:00 – Descent. The trek back was even more tiring because almost all of us are running out of water. I only brought 1.7 Liters of water (not following what I told everyone, to bring 3L of water), because I didn’t want to be carrying that much weight in my bag. The trek to camp base seemed to stretch on for hours, inspiring me to make a chant on C2 Lemon. I was craving for ice-cold C2 Lemon at the camp base, but upon arrival, only soft drinks were available, and they weren’t even that cold!
3:30 – Arrival at camp base 1
4:00 – Arrival at DENR station.
Since I knew it was going to be hot, I opted to wear cargo shorts and a pink and white tank top (because it’s hot). Good choice but eventually, I got sunburned at the back with the outline of my razorback sports bra. Ugly tan line, I must say.
Still go for trekking shoes with spikes especially during the vertical crawl.
Do not carry too much inside your bag. Change of clothes (another pair of shorts, tanktop/shirt, slippers) is necessary. You can take a bath at the DENR station. Trail food – jelly ace always does the trick, and Pao brought dried Mangoes which actually is a good energy food!
It’s okay to prepare –puting most of our stuff inside ziplocks just in case it rains. Overall, it was a fun day hike and I loved every minute of it. :-) Thank you, Lord!