Mt. Arayat Traverse (North to South Peak)
Jump-off Point: Magalang, Pampanga
Exit: San Juan Baño, Arayat, Pampanga
via Traditional trail
November 8, 2015
Standing at 1, 030+ MASL, Mount Arayat is an extinct Stratovolcano standing solitary in the plains of Central Luzon and the roots of Kapampangan’s ancient folklore about Apung/Aring Sinukuan in his war with Apu Namalyari of Mt. Pinatubo.
To Love is to Persevere
I joined Ulupong Mountaineers again for this hike. I’ve met old faces from our Tarak Ridge hike and new faces to become friends with in this hike. We started from the Magalang jump-off at around 7AM – no guides, just following the yellow trail marks found at every meter intervals. We were just starting and yet, sweat was already dripping in my face. It was a cardio start up until the end. There are two trails going to the North peak of Mount Arayat, namely the New and Traditional trail. Of the two it is said that the New trail is the easier one to the North Peak. In this post, I’ll be telling our hike via the Traditional trail.
Note: As of January 2016, guide fees were mandated at the Magalang jump-off point too.
Our first stop was a huge tree. I don’t know the name of the tree but it was big, and a real attention-grabber. The trail was also characterized by boulder and roots.
Before reaching the North peak, we stopped at a diversion and proceeded right to the trail going to the White Rock where according to legend, it sealed the cave where Apung Sinukuan was trapped when Apung Namalyari hurled stones at him. The trail going to White Rock were mainly boulders and sad to say, there were people who vandalized these rocks beforehand. Why do some people always love to leave their marks that way?
Afterwards, we continue trekking to the North Peak. You’ll know you’re close to the peak once you see the sign about love.
Scaling the First Peak
The North Peak was an open wide area where one could see the Haring Bato, the South Peak, and the plains of Pampanga. Camping is possible at the peak but be guarded for some monkeys that might take your stuff. For this trip we’re doing a dayhike of the traverse. We’ve had our lunch at the mini kubo and have some picture taking. I also took my time taking a nap while waiting for others to reach the peak.
Since all of us were already at the peak, we then continue our trek to Haring Bato. It was a steep, downward slope at first, then of rolling hills of rocks. We were lucky enough to have a favorable weather. The cold breeze made our trek less exhausting.
Our last leg to Haring Bato was an abrupt assault in rocky terrain and alas! A rewarding 360 degree view of the Mt. Arayat itself, the Pampanga plains, and other mountains can be seen from afar like the Zambales mountain range and Mt. Pinatubo.
There’s a roped segment going down the rocky slope. We continued our trek to the South Peak. The trail was even more challenging going to this side of the mountain. It was a lot steeper; I even recall labeling the trail as “Halik sa Lupa” (Kissing the Soil/Earth) trail because there were times that I almost kiss the ground. For someone petite as me, it was difficult. Good thing I have a good sense of balance, and there were roots and branches of trees to hold on to. We were lucky enough that mosquitoes were not rampant during our hike but even so, we came in prepared with our off lotion and mosquito patches.
We reach the South Peak at around 3:30O PM and trek a little further to the view deck. We were so blessed to have a good clearing that day.
Going down, we passed by the campsite. From there the trail was steep, rocky, and tricky. We were rushing down and I slipped twice, lucky for me my reflex did not make me hold onto whatever I could grab that time because there were only unknown thorny plants nearby. I could have my hands injured instead. From then, I took my time descending and with careful steps, we reached the San Juan Bano jump-off point safely at around 5:45 PM. We tidy up and wait for others to descend as well.It was pitch black in the San Juan Bano side. I caught glimpse of the stars in between branches of trees and through playful swaying of the leaves. Fireflies were also roaming around the area.
In simple things, I find magic. It is with nature that I find peace.
Hiking Notes:As of January 2016, guides are mandatory in hiking at Mt. Arayat.
Rates are as follows (1:5 guide/climber ratio):
DENR fee: P40.00 (P20 per DENR checkpoint)
Take Olongapo-bound bus and get off at San Fernando, Pampanga (Bataan Transit P102.00; First North Luzon Transit P156.00) At SM San Fernando, take jeep to Magalang townAt Magalang, take trike to jump-off point in Brgy. AyalaAt Brgy. Ayala; Start trek
- It is best to go there in groups of 10-15 people, first because of the guide fee and second you can just rent a jeepney from San Fernando that will take you to Magalang town and fetch you in San Juan Bano town back to San Fernando or better hire a service van for the group.
- There are military presence in the mountain and wearing camouflage is strictly prohibited to any civillian, including hikers.