New Beginnings – Tarak Ridge (1130+)

Mariveles, Bataan
Jump off point: Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles
LLA: 14°30.357′N, 120°30′E, 1,006 MASL (ridge); 1,130 MASL (peak)
Days required / Hours to summit: 2 days, 5-6 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3

It is really gut-wrenching to be in hiatus from climbing mountains that after more than a month of waiting, we did a major climb as soon as our schedules permitted us to do so. This was new, an overnight affair with nature, to reflect, to commune and to rethink while in her embrace.

Maria Velez, Who?
A small group of five, was planned and all set to roll out on a fine sunday morning. With backpacks full, the team headed out to the other side of Mt. Mariveles which is Brgy. Alas-Asin, Mariveles, Bataan. The trip took 3 hours.

With Kath who took this photo.

Mt. Mariveles is a stratovolcano in Bataan, and got its name from stories that tell of a young Nun, named Maria Velez, who left the convent to elope with a Franciscan friar. But as all tragic lovestories reach their end, she met her untimely death in the shores of Camaya with the priest. This is where the volcano had its name while the adjacent Corregidor islands in front of Camaya Coast was once named Isla El Fraille.

Warming It Up
Upon arriving at Alas-asin, Mariveles, we headed into the Barangay Hall to register, had lunch and after some final preparations started the hike.

See that peak at the leftmost part? That's where the ridge is.

Tarak Ridge really draws attention from the mountaineering community not just because of the rewarding views but also due to its castigating trails. It is part of a larger caldera system of Mt. Mariveles, others are Pantingan Peak, and Vintana.  After some good 20 minutes of warm-up walk we arrived at the jump-off point which is of Nanay Cording’s hut. She greeted us with a warm welcome and told us to take care during the whole trek.

Standing at the hall of fame, and the world's gonna know your name. 🎵🎶

The first part of the trail is made of gravel roads with wide trails – easy to manage. And after an hour we reached the “Unang Dungawan” or the part of the trail that will give you a good glimpse of the ridge, and also our first rest area.

Corregidor Island as seen from afar.

High on grass.
The hike gets real from here.

To The Papaya River
After a quick stop we headed to Papaya River, which can be reached after trekking into open muddy grasslands without covering, down into an ascending then descending slopes that are rocky and is reminiscent of Mt. Makiling’s flora.

Albeit muddy and slippery, due to the rains the previous days, Papaya River is a welcoming sight.

After an hour we reached the Papaya River, which also serves as the campsite since this is the last water source before the ridge.

Who would want to leave?.
Remember how happy you were on your first river dip?.

The water was surprisingly cold and safe to drink. We spent a longer time dipping in it.
But we are planning to camp-out in the ridge which is a 2 hour assault carrying heavy bags and water, that we cleaned up immediately and prepared for the gruelling assault.

Punishing Assault
The hike to the Papaya River definitely chilled us down that we don’t want to leave. But to witness the sunset and sunrise in the ridge is a thing that we cannot compromise. The trail to the summit is more punishing as it gets, the trail gets more inclined and you’ll be on all fours clinging into roots for support while you lift yourself up with your heavy backpack. And most of the time you’ll notice yourself catching deep breaths and sweating waterfalls.

What goes up must...

A Sigh of Relief
For first timers on the ridge assault, it is really tiring that you just want to come down after 2 hours of steep climb into muddy roots and rock strewn trail, and we were not an exception. But upon entering the grasslands of the ridge, a really heavy sigh of relief and awe will be felt before anything else.

The view from the grassland before the ridge campsite.
The ridge all to ourselves.

It is really not your imagination playing with you, but reality flirting with your own eyes.

The Length To Endure
At 1006+ MASL, we set up our tents and left our bags to reach the very summit of the ridge which is at 1130+MASL. It took us half an hour to set up our camp, before we proceeded with the summit assault.

Our second home from the inside of our backpacks.

The length to endure was so little but to see things you see from photos is a catalyst that will push you to see it for your self.

Success kid.
The ridge from halfway the summit.


Mommy Alert.

Another half an hour until we were able to explore the summit of Tarak Ridge and to have our photos taken at the “Sassy Girl” tree as one of our friends call it.

And there he goes.
Sunsets always reminds us that even if leaves us in the dark, there will always be a morning thereafter.
If only the lone tree could tell you its stories, it would probably say that soon, everything's going to be alright, and that it's probably time to start healing.

And we explored the trail of the extended Tarak trail to Pantingan Peak to witness another scenic view of the caldera that is really awe inspiring. This post also goes out to a friend who has lost a lot recently, but is now gaining a lot from it. Long process indeed, but life is but a plethora of choice, whatever your decision is, be sure that you’ll be the bestest version ever of yourself.

She does not love the color pink, doesn't she?.
Fear of heights was a thing from the past.

The Cold Never Bothered?
It was dark when we got back to our campsite, and the wind was chilly that jackets are a must. But we were really looking forward to the sumptuous dinner of sinigang while having rounds of birthday tequila.

All smiles!.

But by 9pm the rain poured really hard and the winds battered our tents and vestibules incessantly until 3am the following day. The cold really bothered us, especially the author who was tending a fever that night. It was planned to break camp by 4am but the rains continued that we waited for an hour for it to subside and yes the sunrise came, with all its majestic rays up and shining.

Sunrise on the other hand signifies new beginnings.
So with courage allow me to ask, where are we going to next?.
Who would want to leave?.

And This Is My Headstart
We broke camp by 6:30am and descended to Papaya River after an hour where we had our breakfast of Ham and Cheese, Pancakes, Noodles, and Coffee. Something you wouldn’t expect from a camping trip but made possible by our friend’s portable kitchen; a really good headstart. And by 10am we were back at Nanay Cording’s hut.

And a monitor lizard just walked around like none of us were there. Try to spot him.

By 1130am we were already at Nanay Cording’s hut. Took a shower at a nearby mountaineer resting area before we took a bus bound to Manila by 12nn.

Dear 12 year-old self, I wish you can see this right now. I'm doing it exactly like you said I would, like you said I could. Of all days, today most especially. Happy birthday, bud, we made it.

Itinerary and Expenses
Tarak Ridge Overnight

Day 1
0700  –  ETD Cubao, Take bus bound to    Mariveles, Bataan
1000  –  ETA Brgy. Alas-Asin, Register at the Brgy. Hall, final preparations
1120  –  ETA Nanay Cording’s Hut
1300  –  Papaya River, Rest
1430  –  Resume trek, proceed with ridge assault
1700  –  ETA Tarak Ridge
1800  –  Explore summit
1830  –  Back at campsite
1900  –  Dinner
2000  –  Socials
2100  –  Lights off

Day 2
6000  –  Break camp
6300  –  Descent to Papaya River
7300  –  ETA Papaya River, Breakfast
1000  –  ETD Papaya River
1130  –  ETA Nanay Cording’s hut, clean up at nearby mountaineer shower areas
1200  –  ETD Brgy Alas-Asin highway, catch bus to Manila
1700  –  ETA Manila

Estimated Budget
Transportation – Bus 534php/pax (Manila-Mariveles-Manila)
Fees – 40php/pax
Tour Guide – Optional
Food – 250php

Total Damage:  824php/pax – 1000php/pax (safe budget)

“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.” – Chuck Thompson


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