A Mt. Mayon trek is probably the toughest side trip I ever took. While on a boat off the coast of Dancalan in Donsol, I saw the perfect cone and thought maybe I could spend some time in Legazpi City to see the volcano up close. The same day, I did a quick Internet search and found a guide, by the name George Cordovilla (+63 915 422 45 08)–an accredited naturalist, who has gone up and down about 300 times since he was 17. Holy mother, right? The following day, we met at the Central Bus Terminal and quickly went to the Department of Tourism Office, where I registered and left the car.
In 2013, Mt. Mayon had a phreatic eruption that killed four Germans and a Filipino guide. A year later, around September, it showed signs of unrest with lava accumulating up the crater. Below is a very popular photo taken by Bullit Marquez of Associated Press back in 2006.
I must admit, the ‘horror’ stories made me even more excited. Getting hit by a glowing hot boulder, what are the chances, right? Apparently, better than winning the lottery. Due to these incidents, however, going up the crater is now prohibited and hikers can only go as far as the Knife Edge.
We started the trek late, around 9AM. From the highway, it was just a nice dirt road leading to the Golf Course (the traditional trail) with a very intimidating view of the volcano.
Passing by a wide open space with such a view up ahead is quite an experience–it’s only when you try to look back that you’d see / notice the change in elevation. Careful of landmines (aka horse shit) because they are aplenty. From time to time, you’ll get a bit of shade until you reach a secondary forest.
Now the good thing about having a very experienced guide is getting a shitload of information. Sir George (upon seeing my limited lung capacity) called for a lot of quick breaks, during which, we talked mostly about what’s edible and what’s not. Haha.
Truth is, there are quite a lot of things that I would’ve failed to notice, had they not been pointed out.
I think it was about 11AM when we reached Camp 1, which is marked by an old, dilapidated stone house and a grotto. I swear, this is such a great place for all things paranormal.
Holy mackerel. The gully is something that took shape because of lava flow ages ago. I call it the Giant Slide of Death, because god knows where you’d end up in, if you make a misstep–maybe in hell. It also has a lot of depressions that trap rainwater. And speaking of rain. Holy Week vacationers in the coastal areas of Quezon were asked to go home because of Typhoon Maysak (Chedeng). A little after lunch, we experienced a minor change in weather because of it. This made the gully slippery, so I opted to take my shoes off–very noob!
Mt. Mayon, in its rainy glory is a beauty to behold. I look forward to the day, though, that the local authorities would let people hike up to the crater once again. The more challenging part of the climb, according to most accounts, is rock climbing and scrambling past Camp 2, where the trail becomes steep and the rocks are loose. So maybe, I’ll save that for another day. Haha!
After the dayhike, I stayed in Cagsawa and walked around town before the following day’s grueling drive back to Manila.
Cheers to adventure!
This blog post is part of my 2015 travel project called #epic7107 — to vist as many places within the home-country as possible and to write not just about destinations, but also, people.