Hi! A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me to organize a hike to Mt. Pico de Loro, also known as Mt. Palay Palay. Because it will be her first time to hike and because I haven’t climbed that mountain yet, I readily agreed. Even though there was a storm the week we planned to climb, we decided to push through and by some sheer luck, not a single raindrop was felt during our entire hike.
And because of the great weather last September 25, I was able to summit my 7th mountain!
Height: 664+ MASL
Location: Ternate, Cavite
Trek to Summit: 3 hours 20 minutes
Before giving my take on the experience, let me first give a cost breakdown of the trip:
I was informed that because of the mountain’s popularity, there will most probably be a queue going up the famous Monolith/Parrot’s Beak. Even though we arrived at the DENR jump off in Ternate, Cavite relatively early, there were still so many groups ahead of us. We registered our names in the jump off and paid Php25 each before we started the hike. Please take note that they will offer guides at a fixed amount of Php1,200 but this is not compulsory. And because there were already so many groups ahead of us, we opted to not get a guide and just follow whoever was in front of us. More than this, the new trail going to the campsite is well-established making it easy even for beginners to hike by themselves.
The trail starts with a gradual ascend to a forest. There is also a bit of stream-crossings in between but fear not for there are rocks to step on to avoid having contact with the water. Even though it was not raining, the ground was still moist and muddy making some parts slippery. Nonetheless, there are a lot of plants/branches/rocks to hold on to for balance. The entire ascent to the campsite is somewhat easy which makes this mountain perfect for first time climbers. I’m really proud of my group for not stopping midway to rest.
After three hours of passing through what seemed to be a plethora of fallen branches, bamboos and trees, we finally reached the campsite where we were welcomed with tons of people that I almost mistook it as the summit. There are so many great spots here for photo-ops which was why we took our time to go through them one by one.
We spent a good thirty minutes at the campsite before finally ascending the summit. However, from the campsite, we were required to get a guide at Php50 per person and Php100 per person if we were going to do a traverse. The summit is just a short but hot 15-minute trek away from the campsite with no trees to protect us from the heat of the sun. Upon arriving at the summit, I was not surprised by the swarm of people each finding their own spots to either rest or take photos. I savored the view while thinking that finally, I was physically present in the mountain and I could now appreciate its beauty firsthand and not just from the photos I see online.
We only spent a couple of minutes at the summit because we knew that we still had to wait in line to scale the monolith. Because of the long queue, everyone decided to have lunch while waiting. After some time, we reached the bottleneck part of the trail to the monolith – the roped segment. I have experienced several roped segments in the other mountains I have climbed before so I did not feel nervous or scared. Moreover, I have mentioned that I still prefer ascents more than descents so every time I encounter a part of the trail that is tricky to ascend, I always think of how difficult the descent will be.
After the roped segment, there was a short rock scrambling part which then led us to the top of the monolith where there were, yup, lots of people. Being on top made everyone feel a sense of achievement because who would have thought that we were capable of scaling the monolith that looked so intimidating from afar.
As promised, my friend and I did our double planks as soon as we found a spot. We often do this at the gym but this time around, we did it at 664+ MASL!
I gave my camera to our guide and he went back to the summit to take our “minimalist” photos on top of the monolith. The photos really emphasize the achievement of being able to reach the top as seen in the size difference.
Even though we already wanted to start our descent, we still had to wait for our turn to go down as the way going to and from the monolith is just the same. This was probably the worst part of the experience because the wait ate up so much of our time both for going up and down. While waiting; however, we did not miss the chance to take several photos from the edge of the monolith which made the wait a little bearable.
After almost an hour, we were back at the base of the monolith. We then took the traverse back to Nasugbu. The only steep part of the descent trail is the first 15minutes. After this, everything is gradual. I like gradual descents because then I wouldn’t have to worry about hurting my injured knee. We passed by a grotto, crossed several streams and walked through what seemed like an endless forest until eventually we reached a store where we bought cold drinks and snacks. From the store, it will just take about 30 minutes to reach the Nasugbu jump-off where we hired tricycles to take us to Pico de Loro falls.
Pico de Loro Falls
What better way to end a long hike than to bathe in fresh water! This reminded me a bit of when I went to Bunga Falls after our hike in Mt. Kalisungan. Thankfully though, my legs were spared from any wounds/cuts from the grasses.
All of us enjoyed the cold water and washed away the dried mud, sweat and smell of the sun. Originally we planned to catch the sunset and take photos outside Kaybiang Tunnel – the longest underground tunnel in the Philippines that connects Ternate, Cavite and Nasugbu, Batangas. However, we lost track of time and left Pico de Loro falls far later than what we planned. So instead of having the tricycles take us back to Ternate, we had them take us to Nasugbu where our chances of finding a bus to Manila was greater.
Surprisingly, the traffic in Cavite was not as bad as I expected it to be. Nonetheless, we still got stuck in traffic as soon as we reached Coastal Road. Instead of the usual 4hrs30min bus ride, it only took us 3hrs50min to reach Coastal Mall (still long, I know). Even though I was not able to sleep throughout the entire trip back, I still found it to be somewhat nice and as soon as I got home, sleep was quick to cave in.
Here is the short video I made summarizing our experience in Mt. Pico de Loro:
Let us all help keep the mountain in a good state by NOT:
Leaving trash behind
Vandalizing rocks and/or trees
I was really disappointed when I saw all the vandalism in the summit and the monolith and all the scattered candy wrappers and other trash at some parts of the trail.
Bring enough hydration as it gets hot going to the summit and the monolith. Brought 2L this time and it was enough.
Start the trek earlier than 7:00AM or schedule the hike during weekdays to avoid the long queue going to the Monolith.
Bring the essentials: Trail food (candies/chocolates/biscuits), packed lunch, cap/umbrella, change of clothes, slippers, hydration – but remember to pack light
Be extra careful when holding on to the bamboos in the trail. Do not hold the brown part as it may leave you with splinters.
Bring a lot of willpower and excitement!
Go legs go!
5:40AM → Ride Ternate bound bus from Coastal Mall
6:55AM → Arrival at Ternate, ride tricycle to DENR
7:15AM → Arrival at DENR, do final preparations and register
7:30AM → Start trek
9:45AM → Arrival at the campsite, take photos
10:20AM → Start trek from campsite to summit
10:47AM → Arrival at summit, take photos
11:05AM → Start trek from summit to the base of the monolith
11:15AM → Arrival at the base of the monolith, have lunch while waiting
12:45PM → Arrival at the top of the monolith, take photos
1:35PM → Start descent from the monolith
2:20PM → Arrival at the base of the monolith, start traverse to Nasugbu
4:35PM → End of descent, ride tricycle to Pico de Loro falls
4:45PM → Arrival at Pico de Loro falls, rinse and freshen up
6:05PM → Depart from Pico de Loro falls and travel back to Nasugbu bus terminal
7:05PM → Arrival at Nasugbu bus terminal, take bus ride back to Manila
10:50PM → Arrival at Coastal Mall
So proud of my first-time hiker friends who conquered Mt. Pico de Loro with me! Not only were they positive throughout the entire trek, they were also excited to hike another mountain in the future! Also really thankful for the clear skies and safe hike that day.
For another version of this experience and other hiking stories, please check this blog right here.