There are mountains loved for their challenging trails and magnificent views. Others for their history and natural abundance. And there are some that easily have all these qualities. Mt. Arayat is that kind of mountain. It is historic, teeming with so much life, has difficult terrains and unrivaled beauty to behold up its summit. This mountain is not to be trifled with as it can instantly make you drop to your knees barely an hour into the hike. Yet, it also is kind as to reward those with brave and free spirits who dare stand to its challenge with scenic views you would only see up its peak. So in this blog, allow me to share how we had so much fun and a wonderful time when we spent a night in Mt. Arayat’s South Peak.
THE HIKE TO MT. ARAYAT’S SOUTH PEAK
Day hikes are a thing of the past now as I prefer more time to relish the scenery after overcoming the challenge of reaching a mountain’s summit. And we all know how satisfying it is to camp in a mountain with just our tent and other gears to keep us warm through the excruciating cold of the night. I bet if time permits, many would love to do it. I absolutely love to do it! Three weeks ago, we just had our first taste of the mountains in Mt. Tagapo after being stuck at home during the pandemic which got us craving for more. So for this hike in Mt. Arayat, I, together with my climb buddies, chose to spend the night at one of its well-loved peaks, South Peak.
I met with my climb buddies in SM City Pampanga in San Fernando at 10 AM. The plan was to buy our supplies there but after learning that we can do that in Arayat town proper, we chose to head out instead. We rode the passenger jeep going to Arayat which is parked across the street in front of the mall next to the SOGO Hotel. The ride took about 30 minutes. We immediately went shopping for food and water upon our arrival then had lunch in Jollibee before taking a tricycle to the registration site.
We reached the registration site in San Juan Baño at 1:30 PM. After logging our information and paying the fees, we met with our guide, JB, and soon after, we started the hike at 1:45 PM. The trail started with flats and moderate slopes on soft earth and rocks. We spent about 20-25 minutes walking under the scorching midday sun before reaching the first resting hut. On rainy days, I reckon that trail would be muddy as hell but since it was all sunny, it was mostly loose earth and dried leaves.
We rested for 10-15 minutes. The first part of the hike was easy but the sun made it twice a challenge especially that there wasn’t much shade to protect us from the heat. Once we felt ready, we resumed the hike. This time, the trail gradually shifted to longer ascents intertwined with mild descents and flats. Still, the trail was bare with only cogon grass on both sides and some trees. This went on for another 20 minutes until we entered the forest.
The cold and comforting air within the forest relieved us quickly of exhaustion. Not that the hike was getting easier anytime soon. In fact, it was just getting started. As we went deep into the woods, the trail gradually shifted to steep and longer ascents along boulders of different sizes. Roots protrude from the ground and branches of trees were another obstruction we needed to overcome. Some of them were useful when I needed to hold onto something to assist my ascent. Others were mere inconveniences I needed to carefully steer through to avoid scrapes and bruises.
The hike became more difficult as we advanced with the trail consistent on the steep ascent all the way through. We encountered scrambling on rocks to get past a short 90-degree ascent maybe twice. After reaching the halfway mark two hours after we started, the trail has finally mellowed to allow us breathers. This time, there were long walks along flats in between steep ascents. The forest was denser and with the same rugged terrain. Several trees also fell along the path. Few more ascents and we reached the first viewing area.
We spent about 10 minutes resting and wallowing at the view we first saw after the arduous climb we had for two hours. When we felt better, we resumed the hike where we were greeted by the first and only treacherous part of this trail. We navigated over a short cliffside with a narrow passageway. Although it wasn’t really that difficult, it was still unnerving as one miss could send us rolling down a great distance. Past that, the trail continued on flats with short ascents.
The final stretch to the summit was the most challenging. It was a few more minutes before 5 PM and my limbs were already trembling. JB, our guide, had both good and bad news at that moment. Said we were almost there, maybe 15-20 minutes away. But to get there, we needed to go through one of the steepest ascents first for about 10-15 minutes. At the time, I thought we already experienced hell during the first two and half hours so what makes the final 20 minutes any different. So with the enthusiasm of finally reaching the summit, we accepted the challenge and got onto it without delay.
The final ascent was the steepest at almost a 90-degree angle over soft and loose earth. There weren’t many rocks on the trail which I thought was a relief since they’re a huge knee-breaker. Our guide was completely true to his words as 15 minutes later, we emerged triumphant of overcoming that steep ascent. A few more walks on flats and some short ascents and we were finally at the summit where we were greeted by other hikers and local guides whom we would be spending the evening with.
The hike to the summit took us 3 hours and 15 minutes at a moderate pace and with several breathers in between. I thought it wasn’t bad since Mt. Arayat definitely has one of the most difficult trails among the mountains I have hiked so far. I was also carrying my backpack which I would normally leave to the guide and is a game-changer during this hike. I really felt accomplished knowing I’m getting better and stronger in the slightest bit. As soon as we set up camp, I had coffee while assisting my climb buddies prep dinner. The night was freezing and we thought of no better way to spend it than with two bottles of GSM Blue mojito over a hearty laugh and meaningful conversation.
The following morning, we were entertained by a beautiful sunrise over the vast plains surrounding Mt. Arayat with the Pampanga river snaking through the fields. The plan was to continue the hike to the Pinnacle and descent from there. But since we were out of trail water and one of our climb buddies was a newbie whom we worried might not make it, we decided to take the same trail on our way back. It was a fairly good decision since it only took us two hours to finish the descent to the registration site where cold water awaits to quench our thirst. This hike may be one of the most backbreaking I have ever been through but it certainly gave me memories I would always remember with a smile.
HOW TO GO TO MT. ARAYAT
USEFUL TIPS IN HIKING MT. ARAYAT
- Mt. Arayat is not your average mountain. It has challenging trails with long steep ascents so you would do well to prepare yourself physically and mentally to last the hike.
- Bring enough water as there’s no water source in Mt. Arayat. For day hikes, 2 Liters should suffice one person and 3 Liters for overnight.
- Bring enough food since no source is available at the summit.
- Since part of the hike is scrambling on rocks, I advise wearing gloves.
- Reservation is not necessary. Walk-ins are welcome.
- The hike to South Peak will last 3-4 hours at a moderate pace and with ample rest. Some can finish it in 2 hours. The total hours to and from the summit could take up to 8 hours.
- If you’re going for a day hike, it is advisable to start the hike early at 5 AM. For overnights, the latest you can start would be 1 PM if you wish to reach the summit before sundown.
- A medical certificate, travel pass and quarantine pass are not required. Wearing a face shield and face mask is a must but can be taken off during the hike with observance to social distancing. Having alcohol handy is a must.
- There are bathrooms available at the registration site. Bath is for P30/bucket of water.
- Victory Liner now has trips to San Fernando as early as 7 AM but they require travel documents. As an alternative, you can ride the Five Star bus instead.
- As always LEAVE NO TRACE. Please dispose of your trash properly and don’t leave them in the mountains. Don’t vandalize. Take nothing but photos. Leave plants and animal species there as bringing them out of their natural habitat have dire consequences.
BUDGET, ITINERARY & OTHER ESSENTIALS
|BASIC INFO||Name: Mt. Arayat (South Peak)
Elevation: 1026 MASL
Difficulty: 3/9 Minor
Jump-Off Point: San Juan Baño, Arayat
Features: Steep Trails. Rugged Terrain. View of the vast plains of Arayat.
|CONTACT||Registration/Sir Marlon Nucup: 0936 811 1323|
|WHAT ARE THE FEES||Registration – P30/head
Guide Cap – 5:1
|SUMMARY OF EXPENSES (4Pax/Overnight)||2-Way Cubao-Sn. Fernando – P300
2-Way Sn. Fernando-Arayat – P60
2-Way Arayat-Sn. Juan Baño P150/way – P75
Registration – P30
Guide @ P1500 – P375
Food – P300
Total – P1140/head
|THINGS TO BRING||Day Hike
2L Trail Water
All Day Hike Essentials
|SAMPLE ITINERARY||Day Hike
0400 Meetup Jollibee Farmers Cubao
There you have it, lovelies! I hope you enjoyed our Mt. Arayat hike and found this post helpful. For inquiries, just drop them on the comments. Don’t forget to share this with your friends to plan that hike now! Follow my adventures on Facebook and Instagram for more budget friendly mountains, beaches and food trips. Until next time. Ciao!