Sunday, July 12

Twin Peaks and A Hill - Mt. Binacayan - Mt. Pamitinan Trail Run

It's rainy season already in the Philippines. But that never stop for few of us to continue with our training runs, be it on road or trail. Aiming for  few major races in the next couple of months, even the stormy weather never stop us from doing our regular mountain run. Yesterday was no exemption. For few of us, we manage to squeeze in a training run on a weekday. But because the weather was too bad the day before yesterday, I asked our Coach if schedule will push through as planned. A go was agreed so we showed up.

At the summit of Mt. Binacayan (Photo courtesy of Joseph Sibal)

Four runners of different backgrounds came together with common passion, love of nature and running.
  •  Coach JLB said, it's off season!  but keeps on running and/or biking every time some runners asked him to show his  playground and backyard. 
  • Professor Eric - there is no off-season for him for he lives on this place, he grew up on this place and has to walk 4kms  going to the school and back to his home everyday, that's a total of 8kms a day plus his training runs. Running and the nature is his way of life. 
  • Sir Otep on the other hand after a year and a half of sabbatical leave from running now decided to prepare for a major trail race almost a year from now. Out of the blue there was one thing that ignited his interest of going back to running and now unstoppable. I am amazed how he plans his trainings to have the best performance come race day.
  • And me, who always love nature and running but really find it hard to look for motivation to train harder, to improve my speed and improve my total performance on running. Finding balance between work and going after my passion, I have to make sacrifices sometimes.
At Manila Hills before the trail run. The background two peaks is where we are going.  (Photo courtesy of Joseph Sibal)

This time around our goal for the day was, Mt. Binacayan and Mt. Pamitinan at Sitio Wawa,  Rodriguez, Rizal.  Of my many times visiting this place for an outdoor rock climbing trip, this was my very first time to do trail run on the area.

Arrived Sitio Wawa at around 7:00am, had breakfast in one of the open restaurant, final check of our supplies, we left at exactly 8:00am for Mt. Binacayan. This is the peak at the right side of the picture if you will look at the photo on my photo album, Backyard of the Masters - Binacayan- Pamitinan. Just the same weather as I left home early that morning, it rains a heavy downpour  for a short while then stop. And like the heavens are gathering enough water again then after an hour or so it will pour a heavy one again. But basically the weather was rainy, no wind thank God. The sky was all covered with white, no sign of Mr. Sun at all.

Mt. Binacayan
At the agricultural area before the rock formations to the peak of Mt Binacayan. ( Photo courtesy of Joseph Sibal)
From the community down below, we walk passing by few stores beside the road, after few meters is a slow ascend on cemented road. After less than a kilometer it will enter a rough road until it will just be a single trail. As the elevation slowly goes higher we leave the community area and slowly enter through an agricultural terrain with root crops and corn plants. On a rainy season and a sloping terrain, it is just not possible to run. We were just pushing fast with caution not to sprain our ankle if  get out-balanced on a slippery ground. Slowly we enter the rock formations which reminded me so much of my rock climbing years on this area. The terrain alternates with bamboos. Towards the summit are all  rock formations that one has to go over it with some parts using the upper body to make sure of a secure holds for safety. Some rocks are sharp which can cause cuts on the palm, arm or leg. We had few stops at several view points as slowly the fog and the mist cleared showing the beauty of the mountain ranges as far as your eyes can see.

At the peak of Mt. Binacayan (Photo courtesy of Joseph Sibal)

The summit is a total rock formation of limestone that offers a beautiful 360 degree view of several peaks around the area including that of the view of the Wawa River down below including the community that live on the area. It took us less than 2 hours going up despite the intermittent down pour of heavy rains.

 Going down was much faster though we had to be extra careful as well especially on the agricultural part for it is just too slippery. We reached the base in less than 3 hours. We really don't have exact  measurement of the distance, they estimated it to be 7km out and back  with 424MASL.  Had and early lunch, refill water and food supply then left for the second peak.

Mt. Pamitinan
On the way to Mt. Pamitinan (Photo courtesy of Joseph Sibal)

This peak is just higher by 2 meters than Mr. Binacayan, 426MASL. Coming from the community where we had our lunch, we walked through the hanging bridge where we used to walk during my rock climbing days. Passing by the forested area until it reached the wall where we used to climb, the part we call Uling Wall. Brings back old memories. A trek further is the junction to Pamitinan Peak on the right and Hapunang Banoy on the left. The trail going up slowly show more rock formations and boulders that one need to traverse, some a little sketchy and should be approached with extra care. Along the way are few view deck where one can see the mountain ranges of the Sierra Madre. Unfortunately for us, it was total white out and heavy down pour of rain. We continue on until we reached the famous peak of Pamitinan, but the 5 meter vertical wall made me a little concerned,  more so when we were on this part the rain was just on its heaviest down pour. With my 2 companion already up and Coach JLB just down below waiting for me to finish. Again, my imagination lingers, going up will be fine for I do not see how high down below but going down on this vertical wall will be a problem for me.

At the summit of Mt. Pamitinan

Nonetheless, I reached the peak welcomed with heavy rain with no view. After few photo shoots we decided to go down. It's just getting cold. I used the other side going down with the assistance of Prof Eric. Hold your grip tight, I really hope that the hold of the granite rock will not snap,  trust your core and secure your foot holds. OMG. As a rock climber, I know the margins of safety and risk, and this is really risky but I just have to trust myself, and not let my imagination linger. Otherwise I will really scare myself. That was only few minutes but few minutes of wrong more will also be fatal. Thank God I made it to the ledge safe. 

After the sketchy part, everything was just smooth going down of course still with extra care as some parts  were really slippery from the heavy downpour of rain. In less than 2 hours we were back on the base.
Photo credit to Jon Las Bruce

Sitio Simano
As much as Sir Otep wanted to explore the 3rd peak of Hapunang Banoy which we pass by at the saddle from Mt. Pamitinan on our way down, our TL Coach Jon Las decided to make the adventure to the 3rd peak on the next trip. We are still early from our itinerary, so we decided to join Prof. Eric to his place, at Sitio Simano, a place where he walk every day going to school where he teach, 8km back and fort in distance. The path way which passes by the community then pass by the short tunnel  follow the side of the Wawa River eventually reach the non functional Wawa Dam.

Wawa Dam (Photo credit to Joseph Sibal)
Despite my several times of visiting Montalban, this is my first time to reach the Dam area, with floating huts where picnic goers used during summer when the water is calm and clear. This time though, the water in raging current  and color brown due to the continues rain for several days now. A slow jog we just follow the side of the river, sometimes passing by small stream, until we need to ride a boat to cross to the other side of the river. Thank goodness despite the rain and strong current, the water is still calm. Few more minutes we reached the home of Sir Eric, had hot drinks and snacks, enjoy the presence of his dog, chickens and geese with the beauty of  nature,  then run back. It only took us 30 minutes running. Few minutes before 4:00pm we were already back at the community where we started.

Photo credit to Jon Las Bruce

One day of running in the rain, estimated 21km distance. Not bad at all. It maybe short but for me, running on that weather is a good training for trail races that happens on rainy season with feet wet almost the entire race. So this is a good practice. The elevation on both peak is quite abrupt which gives us a good full body work out. We may not be able to run anymore on steep slippery and rocky part of the trail but it give a full body conditioning.

At Sitio Simano (Photo credit to Joseph Sibal)

But aside from trail running, for hikers who wish to climb the challenging Mt. Guiting Guiting in Sibuyan Island in Romblon, this two peaks is a good simulation and practice to get used to the rocks, boulders, the vertical wall. This is my first time see peaks with such rock formation on this area. Very near from Metro Manila, it may not be as long and high as that of Mt. Guiting Guiting but this could be a very good familiarization  place. It will definitely help climbers lessen the feeling of uncertainty of how it feels to be climbing G2. I climb it once and for me this place is a great place to practice. 

The boat ride to Sitio Simano (Photo credit to Joseph Sibal)

Suggested gears climbing these two peaks: arm sleeves or long sleeves, gloves, full tights or  calve sleeves. Rocks are sharp that can cut your palm, arms or legs. 

With that, we end our day happy. Another mileage covered, another battle scar added. On to the next training run. Our road to H1.

Adventure pa more!!!!!!

Sharing the rough itinerary that we some how followed, courtesy of our Team Leader, Coach JLB.

Pamitinan-Binacayan twin peak dayhike
600hrs- meet up at manila hills
700hrs- breakfast and meet up with prof eric (our host) at Sitio Wawa.
800hrs- start ascend to Mt. Pamitinan
930hrs- peak/picture taking
1000hrs- start descend
1100hrs- lunch
1230hrs- start ascend Mt. Binacayan.
1400hrs- peak/picture taking
1430hrs- start descend
1600hrs- Snack/Chit Chat
1700hrs- uwian na!

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