Saturday, March 3, 2007

Mt. Pinatubo

"Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, at the intersection of the borders of the provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga. Ancestral Pinatubo was a stratovolcano made of andesite and dacite. Before 1991, the mountain was inconspicuous and heavily eroded. It was covered in dense forest which supported a population of several thousand indigenous people, the Aeta, who had fled to the mountains from the lowlands when the Spanish conquered the Philippines in 1565. The volcano's eruption in June 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century.[2] The 1991 eruption had a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6, and came some 450-500 years after the volcano's last known eruptive activity (estimated as VEI 5, the level of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens), and some 500-1000 years after previous VEI 6 eruptive activity.[3] Successful predictions of the onset of the climactic eruption led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the surrounding areas, saving many lives, but surrounding areas were severely damaged by pyroclastic flows, ash deposits, and later by lahars caused by rainwater remobilizing earlier volcanic deposits: thousands of houses and other buildings were destroyed.[2] The effects of the eruption were felt worldwide. It ejected roughly 10 billion metric tons of magma, and 20 million tons of SO2, bringing vast quantities of minerals and metals to the surface environment. It injected large amounts of aerosols into the stratosphere—more than any eruption since that of Krakatoa in 1883. Over the following months, the aerosols formed a global layer of sulfuric acid haze. Global temperatures dropped by about 0.5 °C (0.9 °F), and ozone depletion temporarily increased substantially." -wiki
The trek starts at Baranggay Sta. Juliana in Capas, Tarlac. You can park your car in the basketball court within the school compound beside the Baranggay Hall. The journey starts with an hour long 4x4 jeepney ride to the drop-off point.The 4x4 jeep crosses the same stream/river several times. The terrain is extremely sandy and rocky. Our driver was kind enough to allow me to drive the jeep in a few beginner streams. He was giving me instructions along the way. All I can say is that the driving experience is so much different from highway driving!The 4x4 jeep actually passes through what is known as the Crow Valley Range Complex. It was originally used by the American military in Clark Air Base for aerial combat training. You can find the history here. Currently, it is being used by as a practice facility by the Philippine Air Force. There are actually times when a Pinatubo trek is canceled because of military exercises. So please do plan accordingly. At the jump off point, the 4x4 could no longer go much further. This is where the trek begins. There's a very slight unnoticeable incline. But in general, the walk is almost flat. What makes the trek difficult is the uneven, rocky train and the stream that you need to cross several times. You just need to follow your guide who knows the easiest path up Mt. Pinatubo. Unfortunately, it's impossible to just walk on side of the stream because it snakes through the valley.The valley was carved by both rain and lahar. This cliff is just made of sand. It was extremely difficult to climb because your feet would sink into the sand until your ankles. The stream is mostly ankle deep. But there are some sections where the water can go as high as your knees. This was in the summer though - so it could get quite treacherous during the rainy season.You can actually hop and skip over rocks and boulders when crossing streams. Be careful though because some boulders are slippery and unstable. Hence, expect your shoes to be filled with sand, pebbles and water!The Pinatubo trek takes 3-4 hours total, one-way! The trek also gets greener and greener as you get closer to Mt. Pinatubo. When the path gets narrower and steeper, you're about 30 minutes away from the summit.It was a bit of a surprise to find a cement staircase that leads to the crater of Mt. Pinatabo. But once you see this man-made structure, you know you've already made it!This is a picture of Mt. Pinatubo before the 1991 eruption. This is a picture of Mt. Pinatubo early in its 1991 eruption. This is what Mt. Pinatubo looks like now after 16 years.After you climb the stairs up the side of the mountain, it's also a long way down the other side to get to the lake within the crater.It's safe to swim in the water. It's a great way to relax and unwind in preparation for the 3-4 hours trek back to Baranggay Sta. Juliana. There's a spa in the Baranggay Sta. Juliana - it is owned by Koreans. After the trek, we were all looking forward to the relaxing massage treatment. Of course after a whole day trek to Mt. Pinatubo, we rewarded ourselves with a feast in the only restaurant in the town which is also owned by the same Korean who owns the spa.


jennifer the nevermo said...

I really enjoyed coming across this blog of yours. I lived on Clark Air Base in the late 70s and early 80s and have wanted to return ever since. A glorious four years of my childhood! Seeing and experiencing what's become of Clark is a definite desire but almost equally so is to go to Pinatubo's crater lake. Regarding the latter, it was great to see just what a journey would entail (and nice to see some of the villas at Clark) here in your blog. Great description, great pictures. Thank you!

Air Jordans said...

Thanks for adding the new information, as well as your analysis. This is why your blog is one of the few I read that I also ever bother to comment on. I don't do it to hear myself talk - I do it because I know you actually listen.