The exciting and somewhat dangerous hike of the past month has convinced me that, given enough safety precautions, I can actually make hiking a part of my lifestyle. The adrenaline rush is addictive, the view from the top never disappoints, but what got me hooked is the camaraderie. I have met so many interesting people who I wouldn’t have encountered had I stayed as sheltered as I used to be. I am learning so much from them. Kindness is pretty much a part of being a mountaineer, and I look up to people who find it so easy to accept strangers who likewise appreciate the raw beauty of nature and wants to keep it that way to be enjoyed by the generations to come.
Having shared the ups and downs (pun so intended) of hiking mountains on varying weather conditions, some of us have already formed a clique and agreed to join the next hike –Mt. Ayaas in Rodriguez, Rizal. This time, I have a pretty big group of new friends to plan trail food and lunch boxes with. I brought bread and mini hotdogs enough to share, one brought pancit, and another the ever-present Jelly Ace.
I’m not quite sure if this is true to others, but I find that I don’t have much appetite during hikes. It’s the same when I am preparing for and during a run. Post-hike is another matter, though, I’d eat anything on the way home.
Anyway, we are back in Rizal. We opted for the minor jump off which is in Brgy. Mascap and then traverse to the more challenging trail of Brgy. Wawa where the experienced hikers usually start. Once again, I marvel at how the locals thrive in the tourism that the mountains provide. The jump-off points are always bursting with activity: from the newcomers who are there to register to the hikers who are looking for a place to wash up after the climb.
Reading up on posters scattered around the registration area, I learned that Mt. Ayaas is one of the Quadrilogy Climb, alongside Mt. Pamitinan, Mt. Hapunang Banoi and Mt. Binacayan. Hiking up our mountains in one day is unimaginable for me at the moment, but kudos to the brave souls who probably run up and down mountains because YOLO! *snap-snap-snap*
Mt. Ayaas turned out to be more challenging for me than the ones before it. Some of my friends think Daraitan is more difficult, but I enjoyed grabbing onto tree roots and using upper body strength then. At Ayaas, my calves and thighs almost numbed at the last 30 minutes to summit. The trail we took going up was mostly forest and sloping grasslands, with this interesting bamboo that has hairy bark and will irritate your skin if you accidentally come into contact with. I tried searching for its name, but only found this photo from San Sa Pinas? Don’t touch it. You have been warned. 🙂
We reached the summit around 10 a.m. Someone was so kind as to build a grass-roofed shed to protect hikers from the heat of the sun. We have enough time to take a little nap and eat lunch, so we stayed at the summit to do exactly that and to soak in the 360 view of pure awesomeness.
After our much-needed rest, it’s time to descend. A traverse as planned, we took the trail going to the waterfalls and then the Wawa Dam. Easier said than done. There’s a river trekking involved, and the rocks are very slippery. It’s the rainy season, so the water current was pretty fast. I’m no stranger to river-crossing, having been raised in the province, but I wouldn’t say I had an easy time. Several times I needed assistance to avoid getting swept up by the current. I’ll always be grateful that I never lacked for thoughtful hiker friends who know exactly when I need a hand.
I love being in the water, or at least near it where I can freshen up (’cause I can’t swim). The day was hot, so it was a welcome break to take a quick dip at the first waterfall we found. Soon after, we arrived at a bigger waterfall, I think it’s called the Ayaas Waterfall. It almost looks like it’s man-made with its wall-like rocky slope. As fast as I could, I leaned on it and just let the cold water from the river we just trekked to wash away the dust and sweat of the day. It felt so good, I never want to leave!
But all must come to an end, as they say, and soon enough we had to get going. It also started raining, and we still have to cross a river by boat. Growing up, my brothers and I used to play in the rain, and it felt nice to get to do that again as an adult. I was so giddy inside as we walk our way to the riverbanks, where a little boat is waiting for our group to take us to the other side.
Next to the quickest boat ride of life is a trek to Wawa Dam. I loved the walkway along the water, the tunnel, and the huge boulders at the dam. I’m glad I had this time to look back on my Mt. Ayaas experience. For some reason, I always forget how much I enjoyed it.
0400 Cubao to Eastwood, Rodriguez, Rizal
0530 ETA Rodriguez, Rizal; Brgy. Mascap
0630 Arrival at Brgy. Mascap. Register.
0700 Start trek up Mt. Ayaas
1000 ETA summit
1100 Traverse to Brgy. Wawa
1130 Arrival at transmission tower
1330 ETA waterfalls
1400 End of river trekking
1430 ETA Wawa Dam
1500 Wash up
1730 Back in Manila