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Mt. Damas Traverse Circuit

Mt. Damas
I heard that Mt. Damas in Camiling, Tarlac is the only mountain in the country that is considered as a major climb which only measures 685 MASL. It’s a major climb because of its difficulty which includes straight assault, river crossing, rope segments and my favourite rock hopping. Of course, I would like to thank Sir Myk of NEST (Nature Explorers Society of Tarlac) who sent me invite for this event. I met him during our climb in Mt.Halcon in Mindoro last July 2013.

This post will be a long story again which will start from my apartment. The whole day of August 30, 2013 I had an acting workshop with Actor Epy Quizon, Kuya Bodjie and other theatre personalities at the College of the Holy Spirit, Mendiola, Manila. It was a tiring day because of the activities we did for few hours. I ate my dinner at 7PM, and then forced myself to sleep – which I did for 4 hours. My alarm rung at 11:30PM, so I prepared coffee and bread with choco spread. After that, I packed my stuff inside my bag. Packing is much easier this time because I already created a list of NEED TO BRING. Took a bath, put powder, hair cream and wore my clothes. When everything was fine, I took tricycle, taxi going to Ortigas, aircon bus going to Five Star Terminal in EDSA Cubao. I arrived at around 1:45AM, Saturday, August 31, 2013. I was the first one who reached the terminal, so I put my huge bag on the floor, put my earphone, of course in my ears; can I put earphone in my mouth?? And listened to the songs of Beyonce, Shakira and Christina Aguilera while waiting for the other.

A guy arrived and sat almost beside me, he was bringing a huge bag, so I easily thought he’s one of the participants. After putting his bag on the chair, his phone fell on the ground and the parts scattered, so he picked everything up. I continue listening to music, pretending that I didn’t saw what happened to him. I didn’t mind him, I was still pretending when another pair (wearing green) just came out of a taxi and both bringing outdoor bags, so I thought they’re participants and sat on the next row. After few minutes, TeSha arrived and I gave her a beso-beso. She called Alfs and Onah; on their conversation Onah asked TeSha if AJ was there all already. So TeSha asked me: “Sino si AJ?” I answered back: “Hindi ko alam,” TeSha whispered to me: “Baka s’ya si AJ” pertaining to the guy next to me. Then, TeSha told Onah: “Oo, dito na si AJ,” and the guy looked to us and smiled! So, I was right, I knew that he’s AJ and I just want to pretend I don’t know him, but I was waiting for him to approach me. But anyways, Alfs and Onah arrived then they introduced us to Don, Summer and Jayce. When Macel arrived, we put our bags in the compartments of the ordinary bus that we rode. [Bus fare was 200 pesos, from Cubao going to Camiling Market. Travel time is more than 2 hours]. We were all sleeping while traveling, we also had several stops to some bus terminal.

After getting off the bus, we planned to eat our breakfast in Jollibee, but while on the way, we saw Sir Jeff and his group eating in the cafeteria near Camiling Parish Church, so we did the same. After breakfast, while waiting for Sir Myk, I explored the ruins of the old St. Michael the Archangel Parish Church.

We loaded our bags to an owner type jeep with a carrier attached to it. Look at the photo above taken at around 8:25M. The bags first, then we occupied the side, space with blue tarp and at the back of the owner. It was a great experience, look at the video below:

With that position, we passed along the streets of Camiling. The people who saw us were all amused on what they were seeing. Good thing that the air was fresh and the surroundings were green. 96% of the road going to the jump off was cemented.

It was me and my shadow.  The sun was hot so my umbrella was with me. We started ascending at 9:42AM. I am part of the sweeper this time. The trail or the road has a gradual level.

The first river crossing was 15 minutes from the jump off. The water was crystal clear and it was cold. The trail was gradual and simple because of the road. When the others took a rest, I overtook and I was part of the lead group.

We reached Mt. Si-El at 12NN. I easily recognized the tree on the peak of it. But, when we checked that tree, there is a hole in the trunk which looks like a burn. From there, Mt. Damas, river and Sitio Dueg can be seen.

 We were four on the lead who first reached Dueg River at around 12:45PM. After taking a rest, we took our lunch because we were all starving. Then after few minutes, I saw people from afar. Many of them slipped as they descended to the river because the trail becomes steeper. We got support to our balance by holding on the sharp-cogon leaves, so good thing we have gloves for protection.

Due to insisted and private demand by this person, he forced me to put his picture here. Anyways, this is Jeff; a friend of mine and he’s one of the organizers that I’ve been with for the past few months. If you want to be with us soon, just e-mail me and I’ll inform him.

This gorgeous flower is present anywhere along the trail especially after the river crossing. It added a highlight on the trail which serves as a design.

After 2 ½ hours of serious assault, we finally got to the summit. The trail was covered with sharp leaves; we passed though the tall grasses, so I thought it was a reopening. This trail is not usually used by the mountaineers.

Early in the morning, we witnessed the beautiful sea of clouds while the sun was rising. The cold breeze created a good ambiance while we were staring on the orange skies. Sir Myk and the rest were preparing for our breakfast.

Afraid of heights? Look at these two guys!

 Breakfast with my TravellingCup

Descending the mountain was another challenge because the trail becomes steeper, plus the mud created the trail so slippery and the soil was sticky on the sole of our shoes. The most challenging part.

Ubod Falls
This is the Ubod Falls, one of the gorgeous water falls in Tarlac. The water current is strong, crystal clear and so cold, perfect for refreshing our tired muscles after the challenge.

Ubod Falls
The top view of Ubod Falls. Taken at the short cut trail from the falls. The sound of the water falls can still be heard even we were from afar. The trail here was really steep, so every 2 meters, we took a short rest. The trail is open and you can hold on the shrubs on the side for your support. At last, there was a flat and open space after few minutes, and there we took a 30 minutes rest.

Another rope segment, but this time, the rope is only for support. The soil erodes every time we step, so be aware of it. One at a time here, so we encountered traffic in this part.

Another challenge was the unli-rock hopping. So after descending the steep trail, it's time for unli water. We walked on the rock of the river going to the Saddle of Mt. Damas.That trail was within an hour and the stone trail marks can easily be seen along the river. From the Saddle, going to the jump off, it's within an hour and a half.

After that hard work, time to take a zip of a cold soda available in the nearby store. For the boys, there's a manual water pump, and for those who can't take a bath in the public like us, we paid five pesos to the residents house for their wash room usage.

 When we're done, took a ride again on our vehicle going to the market. Then DINNER TIME. Two cups of rice with sisig, Sinigang, grilled Tilapia, squid, and a lot more!

Our journey with Mt. Damas was remarkable because we met different people from different groups. I and Macel found a new inspiration. An inspiration that would create a new happiness. I am not pertaining to the gorgeous parts of the mountain, but I am pertaining to a person with a cute smile, so far, that's all I can give, I think that's all and again, GOOD EVENING ladies and gentlemen!

Take a ride at 5 Star Bus Terminal along EDSA Cubao, Quezon City going to Camiling Market. Then, we rented a vehicle going to the jump off which is Papaac, Camiling, Tarlac. In going back to Manila, in that spot where the old church is located, you can take a bus bound for Pasay. My English itinerary here: Mt. Damas

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