Our day trip to Mount Binacayan in the province of Rizal, was as spontaneous as we could get. It took just a few hours, but it turned out to be the perfect excuse to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. It was therapeutic, no doubt.The night before the hike, the organizer drops a quick line on our WhatsApp group chat and asks participants to bring gloves. That’s when it hit me that I had no idea where we were going or what to expect. But I quickly set aside my worries. Before I sleep, I thought to myself, Hiking is the answer; who cares what the question is? My initial apprehension was eventually replaced with excitement for another mountain trail!
At four in the morning the next day, I was packed and ready: back-pack, check; snacks, check; water, check; cellphone, check; and fully-charged camera, double check. One by one, the participants arrive at our usual pick-up point at San Antonio Plaza along McKinley in Makati; and by 5:30 a.m., we were en route to Rizal.
Mount Binacayan, located at Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal, is one of the most popular destinations in the region. It is part of the famous Montalban trilogy hike, along with Mt. Pamitinan and Hapunang Banoy.
Being on the edge isn’t as safe but the view is better
It took us around an hour and thirty minutes to reach our jump-off point, Barangay Wawa. Here, we registered our group at the barangay hall, got our trail guides, and bought gloves from local merchants. (I highly recommend getting a pair because they really do come in handy due to the mountain’s sharp and rough-edged limestones.)We started our hike at around 7:20 a.m. The hike is rated 3 out of 9 on the difficulty level scale. (I can’t help but wonder what a 9 would feel like!) The ascent from the jump-off point kicked our ass. The first part of the trail is forested. Five minutes in, and I was already panting. Mountains do have a way of dealing with overconfidence because for a split second there, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to the summit. We had a quick water break to catch our breath before the second part of the trail, which was rocky. It was challenging but not that difficult; although focus and some level of fitness is highly required.Mike, our guide, was amazing as both a trail guide and photographer. He knew the mountain like the back of his hand, as well as the best angles to take stunning photos. My friend Iryna and I hiked at our own pace with his help. We occasionally stopped to admire and take in the breathtaking vistas of the surrounding nature, limestone formations, and scenic views of Sierra Madre and Rizal province.Until finally, we found our way to the summit. Mount Binacayan has three peaks, the summit being the third one. Standing at the top, I couldn’t help but think that what they say is true: the best views do come after the hardest climbs.
Our ascent took around two hours, while the descent took approximately an hour. Before heading back to Manila, we went for what seemed like a quick R&R at Wawa Dam, a gravity dam constructed over the Marikina River. It was built in 1909 during the American colonial era to provide water needs for Manila, until it was relieved of that duty when Angat Dam was built. At Wawa Dam, both locals and visitors come for picnics and a refreshing treat from its pouring waters.
I enjoyed dipping my tired feet in the dam’s cool waters, snacking away on our leftovers, as I listened to the calming sound of nature around me. It was only a few minutes of calm before going back to the city’s chaos.The best things in life are the people you love, and the places you have been and the memories you have made along the way. Thank you Iryna Farria for sharing this day with me. When Iryna is not doing her downward facing dogs on her yoga mat, or rock climbing mountains, she is busy capturing beautiful moments with her camera. She specialises in portraiture, newborn, family, pets, wildlife, weddings, corporate, fashion, and documentary style events. She keeps things fun and simple. Check out her amazing work on irynafarriaphotography.com
Lora by Lora.