24 September 2016 – Newly formed and rearing to go, that’s what we 10 Cloudstaffers felt as we envisioned our way up Mount Arayat. It was a day-long hike, and we are doing it for many reasons – for the view, for the fresh air, and for the sake of keeping Mount Arayat clean.

The pre-hike procedures

Before anything else, the first thing we had to do as a group was to meet up, at 5AM no less! So waking up super early, we all found ourselves rushing to be at the meeting spot of Astro Park. In short? The Cloudstaff Outdoor Group had a long day ahead of them.

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Once we were all together, we got to work.

First thing on their itinerary? Visit the Arayat public market where we got all the essential supplies for the hike.

The second thing on the itinerary? Making it legal! For that we needed to:

  • Secure a permit from Barangay San Juan Bano for the trip up the mountain,
  • Pay a small fee of 10 pesos to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),
  • And hire a local mountaineering guide for 140 pesos per person.

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It took us a couple of hours to accomplish our pre-hike itinerary, and as soon we were done we went on our merry way. With the help of Cloudstaff our trip to the mountain was hassle (and expense) free!

The Hike

The hike started at 8AM and boy oh boy was the weather just perfect for hiking!

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The trail wasn’t the easiest climb, you see there was practically no flats areas for a relaxing hike. But despite the uphill climb, we pushed through as a group and told stories along the way. With our garbage bags we made sure to pick up any trash we saw, wanting to make the mountain cleaner than when we first got there. Taking quick breaks along the way to the top, it took us roughly three hours to get to our first checkpoint – the view deck or “Dungawan.”

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The higher we went the harder the trail became. At several points we even had to use our arms for leverage since it was simply too steep to just walk. As we grew closer and closer to the peak there were event times when we actually had to climb – pulling ourselves over obstacles with all of our upper body strength.

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At 1PM, we managed to reach the campsite of South Peak of Mt. Arayat 1026 MASL and there we took our lunch. Imagine how hungry we were by that time! 5 minutes from the summit, we reached a view deck where you can see the snake river and its vast fields of rice. It was amazing, yes the climb is tough but the view from the top is all worth it. Of course we captured every moment we could take! All cameras ready!

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We had an hour break to regain our strength but we made sure to bring along with us our garbage bags to take care of any trash and leftovers, leave no trace as they say! At 3PM we left the peak to descend the mountain and we manage to reach the jump off at about 6PM.

On our way down, we realised that climbing was more than just for the view at the summit. It was the whole experience itself that made it so special – the trail, the companionship, and the challenge. Every moment you spend with your buddies is truly memorable, new friendships bloomed, but most importantly we experienced teamwork and encouragement to never give up! For that one day we were conquerors and that makes the difficulties of climbing worth so much more.

About Mount Arayat

Mount Arayat is a famous destination for hikers all over the Philippines. An extinct stratovolcano found on the Luzon Island, Mount Arayat is over a kilometer tall in height and can be seen for miles around. It is considered by many to be a landmark of the area, as it stands out as the only mountain in fields and fields of agricultural land. Mount Arayat is considered to be mystical by many of the locals, and is often said to be inhabited by the god/sorcerer Sinukuan or Sucu – which may mean “The End” or “The one who others have surrendered to.”