#SeaOfClouds Mt. Daraitan and Tinipak River Traverse

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I’ve been wishing of witnessing a picturesque sea of clouds ever since I got involved in outdoor activities like mountaineering. So, I began reading some local blogs about hiking. One of the famous mountain which is very close to the heart of many local mountaineer is Mt. Daraitan, most likely due to its beauty and serenity. That explains why I included it in my bucket list.

Mt. Daraitan is a mighty mountain among Sierra Madre mountain ranges is located at the boarder of Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon. It’s very famous for it’s altitude and sea of clouds view at the summit. It has an easy access to local tourist and climbers because of it’s close proximity to Metropolis. In addition to that, Mt. Daraitan has neighboring tourist destinations such as Tinipak River and Tinipak Cave which holds live stalactites and stalagmites, and natural pool as well.

Mt. Daraitan
Location: Brgy. Daraitan, Tanay Rizal
Difficulty Level: 4/9
Height: 739 MASL
Features: forest, rock formation (lime stones and marbles). Side trip to Tinipak River and Tinipak Cave.
Hike Duration: 1 day

It was Black Saturday when our group went there to spend our weekend and witness the stunning view of clouds from above. I created an even on Facebook and decided to open the invitation for all. I didn’t expect that I would be able to encourage 12 people to join me in this hike. It was an achievement.

We assembled at Starmall Shaw Blvd at exactly 2:00AM, as agreed, so we could depart early. Since there were few climbers in the terminal, we just chartered a van driver to bring us straight to Brgy. Daraitan, instead of cutting trip. We agreed to pay Php. 2,500.00 (which was devided by 13) for one a way-trip.

The travel unexpectedly took more than 2 hours, provided the fact that it was a holiday and we left too early. Anyhow, the travel was quite comfortable that some were able to sleep.

We arrived at the jump-off (Brgy. Draitan) past 4:00AM already. As always, we had to register for Php. 20.00 and rent a headlight for Php. 30.00 (I’m getting used to this tour senario). We also got our two guides since our group had more than 10 persons. Guide fee is Php. 500.00 per 10 pax if the trek starts at 6AM, and Php. 750.00 if earlier (which requires you to use torch, for obvious reason).
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Before we started the trek, our guide did a quick debriefing to discuss the do’s and don’t’s as well as the specs of Mt. Daraitan. She also requested us to unite in prayer as we assault to the summit, which is paramount to this adventure.
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Soon after, we began the trek. The weather was cold and I began to chill, albeit I was wearing rash guard and T-shirt. We used to pause every time we got tired. Since some of us have been doing this many times already, we walked on a steep grounds with ease, but slowly in consideration to most of the members in the group who were beginners.
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Clouds are almost at hand

The tiresome assault to the summit was filled with conversations with our lady guide. Talkative and inquisitive that I am, I asked her some questions about her family and her chosen field. I was completely inspired to her as a mother of three kids. She’s not from a well-off family, however she has a firm determination to do everything just to send her kids to school. Her husband is a tricycle driver in their village, and her eldest son is in third year college. In spite of limited resources, she is still able to fulfill her responsibility to her family, most especially to her kids. She told me that If going to and fro the mountain is one thing that will help her support her family, she’ll do it until the end; she does’t mind no matter how hard it is. I salute you woman!
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Before reaching the camp site 2, our guide invited us to drop to a place where we could clearly see the sea of clouds. Indeed, it was amazing and stunning. I’ve never seen anything like this my whole life, though I’ve seen it in movies, but it’s totally different seeing it in real life.
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We arrived at the camp site 2 at about 6:25AM, and we rested for a couple of minutes to regain strength, and to take cool shots as well. In that place, we could see lots of climbers who stayed overnight in their tents. However, I personally got disappointed to see some trashes littered around the area, and it’s quite frustrating to realize that there are still many climbers who do not observe “Leave No Trace” rule.
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We finally reached the summit at about 6:40AM, and the view was quite astounding. It was like I am in a cotton candy factory because of the fluffy clouds. The experience was worthy of muscle cramps, sweats, thirst and hunger.
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There were multiple viewpoints at the peak of Mt. Daraitan, but you have to wait in the queue to take your turn and take picturesque shots. Though, we started early, there were still plenty of people ahead of us, and those were the ones who stayed overnight.
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Mt. Daraitan will also amaze you with the aerial view of meandering Tinipak River and verdant Sierra Madre. This is one reason why local mountain enthusiasts love Mt. Daraitan. I will definitely go back to this place for it’s now shortlisted to My Recommended Hiking Spot.
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After taking Instagrammable shots and being mesmerized by God’s demonstration of majesty through His creations, we agreed to descend and do the traverse at 8 AM, so we could have ample time to meet other itineraries.

Our guide gave us a heads up that it might take 3 to 4 hours to descend (traverse) heading to Tinipak River. We didn’t mind it as there was something pleasant awaiting us there.

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The trail going down to Tinipak River was relatively easy and safe compare to the trail that we took going up. The trail is also forested and less precipitous. The group agreed in mind to lessen the stops, so we could advance faster. (We were quite hungry and longing to dip into the water)
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We were entertained by beautiful mountain views along the way down. This place is absolutely a paradise to those who seek comfort and escape from from city life, and it’s also a perfect cradle for environmentalist. (I just hope that the government will preserve and protect its natural beauty in spite of rapid technological advancement).
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Other mountains to reckon with

We finally reached the Tinipak River jump-off at about 9:40AM, and from there, we took ample time to rest and have our lunch.

There were lots of people in the area; people from different localities spending their holy week as well. Meals there were cheap; I got mine for only Php. 55.00.
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After that, we started our trek heading to Tinipak. Our guide opted to visit the Tinipak Cave first because we had to wait in the queue. We were dumbfounded by the beautiful nature scenes along the way. The lime stones and marble stones were shining as the sun struck them. We didn’t mind the scorching heat of sun.

Truly, God shows His excellence through His creations. Everything has made perfect for our pleasure.
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After a long trek, we reached Tinipak Cave and waited in the queue to take our turn to get inside the cave. Since there were plenty of local tourists that time, we were advised that we only get 30 minutes to stay inside the cave to give way to others (fair enough).
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We had to be very careful in entering the cave as the steps were very slippery; otherwise we would have slipped down and get wounded by sharp stones. Headlights were needed inasmuch the cave was so dark.

Stalactites and stalagmites are also the attractions inside the cave, and I was amused to see them alive and shining. The cave was not that vast compare to the last cave I’ve entered (Calinawan Cave)

From afar, we could hear a rowdy water rushing from somewhere, and as we got farther, the sound became louder and louder until we reached the heart of the cave. I was surprised to see the natural pool inside it, though I saw it already in the photo from internet. It was a jaw-dropping view. The current where the water was coming from was so strong, and it was like melted ice. We indeed enjoyed the cave’s crystal clear water, and its uniqueness. As much as we wanted to stay longer, we had to leave and proceed to our last itinerary. That was my first time to encounter a jacuzzi-like natural pool inside a cave.
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We began our trek going to Tinipak River after enjoying our limited time inside the cave. We reached our desired spot (we were avoiding crowded parts) and spent the rest of our time there.

It was another exciting water adventure for us. The water is clear and fresh, and big white marbles were scattered around.
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After having enough fun in the water, we came back to Brgy. Daraitan to wash up and log out.
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We really had a great time and experience, though we were new to each other. Climbing mountains can create not only ideas, dreams and passion, it can also turn strangers to friends.

In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.
Psalm 95:4-5

BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES
● 2,500.00 van transfer from Starmall Shaw to Brgy. Daraitan (one-way trip and divide the cost in the group) or 75.00 van from Starmall Shaw to Tanay Market.
● 500.00 tricycle from Tanay Market to Brgy. Daraitan (main jump-off)
● 20.00 for registration and 30.00 for head light.
● 500.00 for one guide (10pax maximum. Day hike) 700.00 for night.
● 20.00 environmental fee for Tinipak River and 5.00 for Tipak Cave.
● 100.00 (per person) jeepney from Brgy. Daraitan to Tanay Market.
● 58.00 jeepney from Tanay Market to Starmall Shaw or 75.00 for van.
Fares and fees are based on the time of writing.

#seaofclouds
#strangerstofriends
#achievementunlocked
#testify
#reachyourdreams

@jethro

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