Trail Chronicles #3: A Look At Laiban Trails

Third in my continuing chronicles of our week-end trail runs for 2014 features the trails of Laiban in Tanay, Rizal.

Laiban was in the news early last year concerning a billion dollar hydro-power dam project that had been planned to be erected in the area by the MWSS and this has outraged more than 5,000 families, many from indigenous Sierra Madre communities.

There has been no update yet about the planned dam construction but i can just imagine the destruction it would have on trees and other ecological life that relies on the nature of Tanay and Quezon, not to mention the displacements of these families from their ancestral homes.

Laiban offers amazing views of the Sierra Madre Mountains and its clean, pristine rivers. There are whole branches of trails you can take if you’re feeling adventurous though i suggest to thread on the main trails first if you’re running here for the first time.

Running buddy Jun and i came back here the other week-end and explored further the vast labyrinth of trails and rivers. Laiban has been one of the “showcase” trails that PIMCO, organizers of the Nature’s Trail Discovery Run series of trail races in Tanay have been presenting to runners and it’s easy to see why.

The trails are quite moderate to difficult, with long uphills and downhills and you have to cross mild streams and small rivers many times over. We counted six (6) river crossings (one way) and the uphills on the way back is really heart thumping!

It may only be a quick one-hour trip from Marikina but when you’re up there in the cool mountains and flowing, pristine rivers right in the middle of nature, it just takes you away from the concrete haze of the metro, the noise and air pollution and the constant hustle and bustle of city living.

I like that these trails are seldom used by bikers, hikers, runners and other 2-wheeled motor vehicles, there is much more breathing space when you’re running and can fully enjoy the quietness around you.

Here’s a glimpse of Laiban’s trails. Enjoy!

With Manny Santos and Alvin Balderama of PIMCO, after the run

Tanay Love A Tree 50k Ultra Marathon Now Set

This is it! The Tanay trails is gearing up to stage its first Ultra-marathon, a 50k run in one of the most beautiful trail settings in the country, venturing through mountain passes, river crossings, challenging trails, majestic water falls and many more, all in the beautiful Sierra Madre mountains of Tanay, Rizal.

Aside from the 50k Ultra run, other categories include a 24k, 12k and a 6k trail race. Experience the excitement of what the Tanay Trails has to offer. Enjoy the great views, while testing your stamina and fortitude. Mark your calendars for February 10, 2013!

Here are the deatils:

2ND “LOVE A TREE”
INTERNATIONAL TRAIL RUNNING MARATHON

Date: February 10, 2013
Venue San Andres, Tanay, Rizal

Registration : On-line (http://www.pimcosportsevents.com/)

Program:

Feb 09, 2013:  1st Day Tree Planting, Camping, Mountaineering & Trail Running Clinic. Program starts at 4 pm

Feb 10, 2013:  2nd Day Race Day
Assembly starts at 4 am

Race Events:

Open To Filipinos Only (Foreign runners allowed as Guest Runners)

Distance—Entry Fee —Gun Start —Cut-Off Time

6k ——-P 650.00—– 5:30m —-10:30 am

12k ——-P 950.00 —–5:15am —11:00 am

International Open Event to Foreigners

24k ——–P1,250.00 —5:00 am —11:00 am

50k ——–P2,250.00 —4:30 am —–2:30 pm

Prizes & Awards:

Champion —–2nd Place ——3rd Place

6k                     P1,750.00           P1,250.00           P 750.00
………………..Medal                     Medal                     Medal

12k                   P3,500.00           P2,500.00          P1,500.00
………………..Medal                     Medal                      Medal

24k                  P5,000.00           P3,000.00          P2,000.00
……………….Trophy                   Medal                     Medal

50k                  P7,000.00          P5,000.00          P3,000.00
………………..Trophy                  Medal                     Medal

Rule on Awarding:

For the Major Prize and Award, Male and Female winners will get the same prize whatever is the nationality.
Overall Top Three (3) Filipino Runners

Top 1                  Top 2               Top3

24k            P3,500.00    P2,500.00     P1,500.00
……………Medal              Medal               Medal

50k            P3,500.00    P2,500.00    P1,500.00
……………Medal               Medal             Medal

50k Runners are subject to qualification requirements according to the rules.

Rule on Prizes & Award:

Top 3 Filipino Runners overall will be picked from the Filipino runners no division classification of Top 3 which can be a combination (example male, female, male as the Top 3). This is because at long distance, both Filipino male and female runners are no longer relying on speed but on stamina and endurance thus both are equally capable and female runner can beat male runner and vice versa.

The Filipino Championship winners landing in any position whether Champion, 2nd Place, or 3rd placer are already counted in the Overall Top 3 Filipino runners too. Filipino runners are assured of winning and podium finish even if foreign runners win.

Other Prizes:       Singlet, Finishers Medals, and Loot Bags

Accommodation:

Camping Love A Tree Village I :   P50 per head Donation to Barangay
Those without tent may bring sleeping bags.
Fee for camping goes to the Barangay as donation.

Provisions:

Water Stations There will be water stations for refilling only. Since this is a mountain trail race and we are not allowed to serve plastic cups by law runners are advised to fully gear up with hydration using back pack or belt with hydration bottle.

Runners Gears 50k and 24k runners are advised to also use headlamps in the early morning stage of the race. Back pack, hydration belt and bottles, or handheld are important to keep you hydrated.

Banana Station Banana Station will be available to all categories at the 5th kilometer of the race, at 12th kilometer, at the 25th and at the Finish Line.

Breakfast pack Breakfast pack will be served in the early morning to 12k, 24k, and 50k runners only. 6k runners may buy at the Love A Tree Village.

Shuttle Services for Metro-Manila Runners:

Additional fee of P300.00 per runner will be charged for the shuttle bus to the race venue and going back to the same pick up points as follows:

Pick up Details:
Date: February 10, 2013

Pick up points:
Shell Station, Makati Edsa
Mandaluyong, City Hall Circle
Quezon City Circle
Masinag, Marikina in front of Mercury Drug

Time of Pick Up:
2:00 am Shell Station Makati Edsa
2:15 am Mandaluyong City Hall Circle
2:40 am Quezon City Circle
3:10 am (Subject to change)

The Bus will passed-by and will not be standing by please be at the pick-up point at the time to avoid inconvenience and present your Service Stub. The Time of Pick-up are estimated arrivals at the pick up locations given.

If you miss one pick up place, you can still catch up by proceeding immediately at any of the pick up points ahead. The Shuttle Bus will not wait.

Time of Return Trip: All Runners must be at the shuttle bus for the return trip to Metro-Manila from the race venue after the race event not later than 3:00 pm(?).

For more info, please visit their website at: http://www.pimcosportsevents.com/

A Quick View: The Tanay Love A Tree 24K/50K Ultra Trail Route (Part 1)

There’s a new kid on the ultra running block and after several successful trail runs in their sanctuary in Tanay, Rizal, Pimco Sports will now be staging its 1st 50K Love A Tree Trail Ultra-Marathon this coming February 10, 2013. Also, included in their Feb. 10 race is a 24k, 12k and a 6k run.

Like their previous trail runs consisting of the Love A Tree Half-Marathon and the three legs of the Natures Trail Discovery Run, the routes for their Feb. 10 race will take runners to some very scenic but familiar routes of the Discovery Run series and new, uncharted trails the 24k and the 50k ultra runners will surely enjoy.

Yesterday, i was one of the privileged runners who took part in the familiarization run for the Feb. 10 route of the 24k and 50k distances. It was unusually cold and chilly when running buddy June and i arrived at Barangay San Andres at about 5:40am. Within an hour or so, a total of 12 runners were now ready to start the run after we were given a short briefing by Mr. Manny Santos of Pimco Sports and Race Director Alvin Balderama.

Some of the routes were familiar ones, having run them myself during past Pimco trail races but what caught my attention this time was the number of  rivers we had to cross and the variety of terrain we had to  endure like rough roads, dirt trails, muddy trails, rocky paths and soft ground.

We only covered a total of 15 kms. which did not include the forested trails and mountain passes which i believe will be done during the second familiarization run on January 6, 2013.

Only registrants in the Love A Tree 24k/50 Ultra Run can participate in the January 6 Familiarization Run so register now. (Early Birds is available for Online Registration only at www.pimcosportsevents.com).

Here are some of the pictures of the route i took yesterday. Enjoy!

Meet-up was at the corner of Marcos Highway and Sta. Inez Road, the entrance going to Sitio Batangas, San Andres, Tanay

Started going to San Andres proper at about 6:40am with nice, cool weather

First river view which has been part of the trail of the 1st Love a Tree Trail race

One of the many rough roads runners will pass going to Barangay Sto. Nino.

A perpetual view of the Sierra Madre mountains that backdrops most of the route

At a junction where runners waited for the others enroute to the rivers

Testing the Camelbak Rogue hydration backpack. Excellent ride!

Trail leading to the river bridge

This trail should be familiar now to those who ran the Discover Tanay Leg-1 Trail Run. This leads to the bridge.

The wooden bridge that connects 2 baranggays

The view from the middle of the bridge

Local residents were very friendly and greeted us wherever we went

One slight rocky uphill part

A view of the river and the mountain ranges

Surprised to see this muddy stretch where our shoes got soaked in mud debris

Walking on this uphill part

This was at about 7:30am when the air was still cool. Lots of fresh air!

On our way down with a peek of the river below

The rivers of Tanay are generally clear and you can see the rocks below it

The water was nice, cool and calm. No “buwis buhay” here!

Giving the thumbs up is Alvin Balderama, Race Director of all Tanay Trail races. He charts all trail paths here and plots all difficult routes imaginable. He shows us the easy routes  of the race but keeps the hardest ones a secret until he unleashes it on race day! I sometimes refer to him as the “Butcher” of Tanay! Hahah…:)

The river circles around several small mountains and you have to cross the river many times over.

From here, it’s all small rocks all the way!

More river crossings…

Terrain ranges from sandy, rocky, river and more rocks!

Nice feeling of wading through the river surrounded by mountains

There must be billions of rocks here, many of the garden variety. 🙂

The lone plant in the middle of the river

Reminds me of the river trails near Mt. Pinatubo, only here the water is so clear!

Balance is of utmost importance here as rocks tend to roll under

Yes, this is part of the 24k and 50k route

It’s so difficult to run on this terrain

This part was on our 2nd hour of run-walking

Back to the trail, at last!

A run to the finish

It was all uphill to base camp

Don’t forget to register now and be a part of the 2nd familiarization run on January 6, 2013. See you there!

A Look At Timberland’s Trail System: The Merrell Adventure Route

During our test run of the Merrell Adventure Race route at the Timberland Heights in San Mateo, Rizal last Friday, i was amazed and surprised to venture into trails that were new to me, routes that were not used in trail races that i had joined in the past. I was bewildered about the vastness of this area that probably only a few runners and bikers have ventured to and the experience of running in uncharted territory was awesome!

I would later learn from the developers of the Timberland Resorts nearby that the trail system itself consisted of about 42 kilometers of trails stretched inside Timberland Heights, long enough to stage a marathon on forest woods. Among these trails are bike trails dubbed as the Eco-trail which had been long popular to mountain bike enthusiasts.

Thumbie Remigio, Race Director of the Merrell Adventure Run which will be held on June 2, 2012 took us along the 10k route and he said that 60% of the trails have not been used in past races. The terrain at Timberland offers everything from flat, grassy meadows to long climbs and technical single-track and switch-backs.

In all, there will be 10 kilometers of running to explore, with several sections of single-track, double-track, dirt roads, river traverse and waterfalls. Runners of all abilities will enjoy the variety of terrain. And did i already say that there will be mud crawls on parts of the route?

The scenery alone would make this a very spectacular run. Our test-run was fun and challenging with others even taking a dive at a deep river pond. You can run the route slow and cautiously, or hard and fast if you are an expert trail runner. Whichever way you run, you are bound to have a blast!

Here are the pictures of the 10k and 21k trail route. Enjoy and see you on June 2!

Runners will have the option to cross the river through this bamboo bridge or…(see pictures below)

…dive into the river itself!

…and here! (that’s Thumbie’s wife who is also a runner)

Merrell Adventure Race Organizer, Thumbie Remigio

One long uphill climb

Where we came from

This part of the trail was covered with bamboo trees

A white lady appears with a bolo!

We stop at a crossroad. Even Thumbie forgot our way out!;-)

The Jazzrunner, 1.5 kms before the end of the run

The trail runners with the Merrell group and the race organizing team

With Jojo, Ed, Allan and Baves

The Trails of San Andres, Tanay: The Nature’s Trail Discovery Route

Every trail has its own unique characteristics… it has its magnet of charms, its allure speaking at you to discover it. It is sometimes gentle, letting you savor its calm terrain and green scenery. But it can also be harsh, forcing you to climb its steepest hills and stumble when you cross its gushing rivers.

Its sternness however reminds us that for every route that we take, there will be gale winds to blow our faces, higher mountains to trek until we are out of breath,  more rivers to slip into its cold waters until we reach the other end and only then would we be rewarded and discover who we truly are.

Yesterday, i was one of those fortunate to be invited to test-run the newly discovered trails inside the inner sanctum of Tanay, Rizal.

It’s in a remote village called San Andres where two Sundays from now on May 27, hundreds or may be a thousand trail runners will be running the Discover Tanay Trail Run to test their mettle in this scenic but harsh route laid out by the organizers of last February’s Love A Tree Trail Run, also in Tanay.

We arrived at the site at about 6:00am with surprisingly cool weather and some morning fog enveloping the area. I was with about 16 other runners and we were greeted by the race organizers themselves led by Sir Manny of PIMCO Sports and the race’s shoe sponsor, Norphyl-Connect, sole Asian distributor of the Viking Trail Shoe represented by its CEO, Mr.  Ceasar Valmadrid.

We did a short 10k run but felt that we finished a 21k because of the arduous mountain climb on its earlier stages.

Highlights of this run will be the 2.3 km long single-track mountain climb (from KM 2.7 to Km 5.0) where i experienced some kind of oxygen debt just trying to put one feet over the other in bagging its peak. Another highlight others would either love or hate are the various river crossings that for sure will get your shoes submerged as you wade in its cold waters. Well, that’s part of trail running.

A surprise was waiting for us in the middle of the run when a small waterfall suddenly appeared  near the trails which provided a cool respite from the sun.

This will be the 1st Leg of several trail runs being hatched by the organizers to culminate in a 50k Ultramarathon Trail run by 2013. The Natures Trail Discovery Run will have a 10k, and 21k distances and promises to be a very exciting trail run as it has everything nature has to offer…cool winds, farm lands, mountain ranges, rivers, wooded forests, waterfalls, a friendly neighborhood and a lot more.

Here are some pictures of the route and trails. Enjoy!

A group picture

Preparing to start for the trail and mountain run

Mountain mists greeted the runners at the start

The front runners that will lead the group on the trails and mountains

It was muddy on most parts of the trails yet tolerable for all to run through

Parts in the open area

One of the views during the run

An outdoor panorama

Entering a small cave resort. The owner was one of the local runners

The small underground cave

One of the many rivers that we had to cross

and another one…

They didn’t want to wet their shoes this early

From single trail tracks…

…to rice paddies

We are the first runners to run these trails

Runner in red is the Running Mhalot

Into a more wooded area

It was still foggy and misty during the late morning

A thin slab of stone was the only way to get thru the ravine. One slip and down you go.

It was all uphill from here

It was a zigzag maze to the top

The view emerges from the top

We were like above the clouds

A few more steps…

Now over the top

The high and mighty!

Our descent…

It took us about 40 minutes to scale up the mountain and just a fraction of that to reach level ground

Back on the rough roads

Another river to cross

Nice place to rest and take a picture

Ed Escueta continues…

Reaching one of several waterfalls

Doing a duathlon?

Breakfast at the end of the run

Great way to end the run!

Thanks to Ed Escueta and Jojo Paulino for some of the pictures used.

The Rolling Hills of Tanay

One stretch of the zigzag road in Tanay, Rizal

This wasn’t my idea of a “break” I sorely needed. After 14 consecutive days of running (took the whole day off on the 15th), the thought of doing another 3-4 hour LSD yesterday, Sunday, was not going to be a pleasant one. Then along came Tanay, Rizal, a running haven which my group had finally agreed upon after some “vicious” deliberations on where to run this time, tired of the Ortigas-Ultra cycle we had been doing regularly.

The winding highway inside Tanay, its rolling hills, clean air, magnificent mountain vistas and the relative absence of traffic made us want to come back again to explore its charms at a leisurely pace. I was with Betty, Tonet and first-timers to Tanay, Leo, Sylvia, Alex and Elaine. For me, this was just going to be a leisurely, picture-taking pace and for the others, a hill training session (the hills here are treacherous!) but no matter what you call it, it’s going to be a sight-seeing run!

We all met at Masinag, near the entrance to Antipolo at about 4:00am and after buying some provisions of water and food, we headed off to Tanay for the one-hour drive. The early fog was breaking through the roads and we had to slow down until we reached the Sierra Madre Resort, our starting point which by then was still closed to customers. It was pretty cold outside so some of the ladies had to wear light jackets initially and just strip them off at our vehicle support once they were fully warmed-up.

After running for a few hundred meters, I had forgotten to switch on my garmin so I spent the next few minutes fumbling with the dials in pitch darkness to get it to initialize and finding the satellite signal that I had to resort to walking to sort things out. Our target distance, a 30 kms out and back route, starting at the Sierra Madre Resort and turn back after the 15km mark, the same route we did early last year with the Takbo.ph runners.

As always, the fastest among us, Sylvia was raging in front followed by hubby Leo, Elaine, Alex then Betty. Tonet and I were at the tail-end, content with our 7:30 snail pace while taking pictures of the view.

Along the route, I found no less than 4 running groups, most of whom I had the pleasure of running together in different long runs. And like myself, they were coming to grips with the steep hills and getting those mileages up in their own training.

Below are some of the pictures that we took.

Barring any storms or typhoons, this is a great time of year to be running the hills of Tanay. It was cool and overcast (perfect running weather), the roads were dry and the trees and flowers were in full bloom after some rains we had the past few days. I would highly recommend Tanay to anyone looking for a different venue with that rustic, scenic view.

There was just one thing that marred this particular Sunday run and that was the pollution. Not air pollution by any means but the noise polluted by those thundering motor bikes that zigzagged the course and there were hundreds of them! Those powerful BMWs, Ducatis, Harleys, Kawasakis and other smaller bikes were ringing in my ears for several hours. Happens that there was this new motor bike track being inaugurated at the outskirts of the main highway and many groups and clubs of riders were on hand to witness the event.

We ran a total of 30.45 kms in close to 5 hours, including picture stops, eating and walking breaks (there goes my “break”!) It’s a tough but satisfying trot through the mountain ranges, a perfect venue to venture outside of the neighborhood and conquer those steely hills.

Starting on the right foot: A low mountain looms during the early part of the run

Foggy crest right along our course

One trail leading to the inner mountains of the Sierra Madre

That's Tonet running along the road signs

Facing a mountain wall

Tonet poses at the middle. No riders yet this early

About to pass two runners, one wearing a run united shirt

As green as it can get

Large boulders to sit by

One odd view along the highway

It's all downhill from here

A view from the other side, starring Tonet

A small waterfall along the road

Meeting Dyep and Danica along the road

Then there's Aileen and Glo

Team aNR UP-Heartbreakers!

Finally, we see Alex and Sylvia on their way back

Elaine and Leo were not far behind

The lady in (dark) pink?

"Thelma" look-alike? That's Betty who should have played the role of "Thelma's" mom:-)

Meeting Mila and her friend who were doing a 40k run

One of the route's breath-taking view

Riders begin to arrive in droves

A view at the 27th km mark

Finally back at the Sierra Madre Resort with Team CB and Team KTT

Rey, runner at left seems to have ran non-stop all his life

Trail Running and River Crossing at Puray, Rodriguez (with Pics)

I’m not really fond of crossing rivers as part of a long trail run because firstly, i don’t want to get my shoes and my toes wet specially in the early stages when i still have to complete an hour or two of running and second, i easily develop blisters when i run on wet feet.

But this is what happened to June and i when we ventured to PURAY, a small village nestled in the midst of the Sierra Madre Mountain ranges in Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal. What we didn’t know was that we had to cross at least eight (8) rivers interlocking a couple of other small villages before we reach the final village of Puray.

The fire-roads and trails to Puray is actually a favorite route of mountain bikers that offers them plenty of challenges in trekking the gentle to rough terrain and cross the rivers continuously without getting down from their bikes.

Getting there is just less than an hour’s drive from the Quezon Memorial Circle via Commonwealth Ave., Batasan Road and San Mateo Road. Before reaching Barrio Wawa is the small district of San Isidro. Turn left on its main highway going to Avilon Zoo. This zoo, the largest zoological park in the country is the jump-off point and we started our run from there heading first to the village of Muscap then to Puray.

Muscap is about 10-12 kms of paved to rough roads while Puray is 5-7kms further west. The trails along Muscap going to Puray is one of the most extensive i ‘ve ever seen. It has mostly well-maintained double tracks and you have two choices of routes going to Puray, one on the elevated tracks with views of the mountain ranges and the other on the lower portion where the river crossing occur.

We experienced soft to rugged desert trails that roller coaster between boulders, ridges with eye popping views of the Sierra Madres. The rivers are a blissful place of slow rushing water that is disturbed intermittently by motorized tricycles transporting town-folks, cyclists and pedestrians who just enjoy walking barefoot on these rivers.

The trails are an experience to itself, the trees that line its banks reach up as high as a 3-storey building and some flowers are in full bloom. There’s more than enough trails here to keep our legs lively and our senses well-fed both atop the mountains and all over the foothills that surround the small villages.

June and i covered about 19kms in about 3 hours and the trails command a repeat performance run. If the active outdoor life is this beautiful and challenging, what more could you ask from a place?

Here are some of our pictures. I hope you enjoy them.

First crossing after only 6 minutes of running

Didn't want to get my shoes wet yet just after starting

First hurdle done.

June leads towards the mountains

Towards Muscap in Rodriguez

Start of the trails

First break after 5 kms

A stretch of paved highway

June glides by some rock formation

Charging an uphill

Soft sand was good for the feet

All uphill from here

"Go ahead, i'm just behind you!"

Nature at its best!

More scenes like this later...

Great scenery!

Approaching the Sierra Madre Mountains

Great view!

Full view

The trails from behind

Running at the edge of a ravine

Getting closer to a waiting shade

Taking another break

June at the waiting shade

Sprinting ahead

Approaching Puray

All downhill from here

Another river crossing. June talks to a native

Clear and pristine

At the other end

Clear skies and it was going to be a hot day!

We forge ahead and after a few hundred meters, another river to cross

And yet another one

Stopping to pose

This kid just appeared in the picture. Where did he come from?

A balancing act

Nice easy walk

It was great running on trails along the banks of a river

And another river crossing

Back to the trails

About 16k during this time

Some more views of the rivers

Trails and river run side by side

More rivers to cross

The last river

The Trails of Daraitan (Part 2)

Daraitan attracts trekkers year round but summer is the time to go frolicking and explore the boulders and the rushing stream of water that passes through the Daraitan and Tinipak rivers.

The trails are paved with stone slabs, dirt and more stones embedded on the earth and the moving film of water that runs along its trails are mesmerizing. If bird watching is your thing, there are different variety of birds that just appear and skydive from nowhere as you observe the many wild orchids and other fauna that are perched atop rocks and boulders.

I’ve received e-mails and text messages inquiring how to get here. If traveling by car, from Cubao just head straight to Marikina towards Marcos Highway passing by SM Marikina straight towards Masinag Market all the way to Antipolo, San Mateo and Tanay.

In an hour, you would have passed the Sierra Madre Resorts and a few minutes later, the Pranjetto Hills Resort. After about 3 kms, you would have reached a cross-road that is bounded by Sampaloc town on your left and the town of Baras on your right. The Tanay Public Market is just on the right side road. Just drive straight the main highway (towards Infanta) and after 2 kms, there’s a street sign that points towards Daraitan. Turn left and it’s another 7-8 kilometers of rough roads before you reach the entrance to the village.

By public transport, there are jeeps from Cubao and Crossing in Edsa, Mandaluyong that ply straight to Tanay Public Market. From there, take another jeepney ride to Daraitan.

The people at the village are very friendly and hospitable. Don’t be alarmed if you see them carrying bolos or machetes. They use these for chopping wood for fuel.

Here are the rest of our pictures:

The Tinipak River

We had all the place to us

That's Darryl giving the thumbs up

With June

The run continues

Noel and June atop the boulders

Finding my step to the top

The tiny spec on the right sitting is Noel

Nice surface trail, this time

Letting a horse with its load pass

Just a passing shot

The white marble stones are nice to see

I was wondering how Noel got in the middle without getting his shoes wet?

One of my favorite pictures

Trying to relax a bit

More serene part of the river

Wild ducks getting our attention

Darryl doing it the hard way

Perfect place for ducks. Quack, quack!

Another stream pouring into the main river

The last of the rock formations

Tying up shoe-lace

On our way back

Hope to get back at this place

We drank the waters here. Sweet!

Darryl preparing lunch

Corned beef and tuna omelett

The Trails of Daraitan (Part 1)

If trail run destinations could be awarded a star for their breath of beauty, this would earn a dozen. The stunning river and mountain landscapes make it perfect for a weekend of running or trekking. As i prepared my hydration belt and waist pouch for our trip to DARAITAN, Tanay, Rizal, June had asked me to bring sandals as we may have to cross some rivers to explore Daraitan.

My mental picture of the place featured copious wildlife, zigzagging streams and rivers, rock formations, including creeping iguanas and river snakes of all varieties which may sting you. Oh, and some of them, I know, could kill you. Since I didn’t have any sandals, I opted instead to just protect my feet with trail shoes and use these in both land and river crossings.

Our journey started at the Pranjetto Hills Resort where we had set up base. Running buddies June, Darryl, their mutual friend Noel, an experienced hiker and biker from Cebu and I ordered for breakfast tapas, rice, eggs and coffee. While waiting breakfast to be cooked, we toured Noel inside the resort, a picturesque retreat with a difference. We were like in a middle of a jungle with all amenities like cabins, swimming pool, patios, cottages, barbecue pits, the works. But that’s another story.

After breakfast, we scurried off to Daraitan, which is about 5 kilometers south of Prenjetto Resort. The entrance is at the left side of the national highway. After another 7 kilometers of bumpy ride on mostly dirt roads leading to the village itself, we were glad to get out in the open and start to explore the river and mountainscapes.

We were greeted by Mang Tinio, one of the regular staff of the village’s barangay as we registered and paid P10.00 each to tour the place. This paradise has been awarded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as the “cleanest body of water” in Region IV. Indeed, we were tempted to drink in one of the small streams as the water was crystal clear.

Here, in pictures are our adventure run:

Entrance to Daraitan, a hidden paradise inside the sanctum of Tanay, Rizal

Approaching the thatched huts at the entrance

Now, you know what "ELP" and "ONIR" means?

Start of run across the wooden bridge

Finding firm footing on the rocky trail

Going out of civilization

Crystal clear streams

More of this along the way

Trying to tip-toe above the rocks!

Zillions of decorative stones to take home

Getting my shoes wet

June and Noel just ahead

Now threading on the sand path

Emerging from the stream

A view from above

A view of the zigzagging river

June continues to run upwards the mountain trails

Brisk walking while Noel takes a shot

June stops at a house near a cliff, asking for directions

Reaching the other side of the mountain

Chasing the endless river

A much needed walk break

Entering Daraitan's 'Shangrila'

Glorious view!

White rocks and the little blue lagoon

Taking a break

Serene backdrop

Atop a giant white rock!

White rocks trail

The run continues

Views on my right

More of the scenery

Feels like you can run forever in this scenery

The great walls of Daraitan

More of the white rocks overhead

Hopping on each rock to get near the other side

Atop the marble rocks

Like a giant clam

Noel--nice jump into the middle

By the end of our trip, we had failed to cross any part of the river (thank God!) just content of walking or running along its banks. We learnt enough about Daraitan to know we would be back—and next time would confront the rivers. Daraitan is a fascinating place that offers many things for adventurous runners or whatever type of adventure seeker you are. And on reflection, these outback trail runs are far more rewarding than races in the cities— distance and time notwithstanding.

More pictures in Part 2…

Timberland Trails Revisited

timberlandIt has been a while since me and my training buddy, June set foot on a trail and that was way back 2 months ago. After that last run, it had been a grueling two months of getting my mileage up to 70+ kms a week as i plan (hope) to run the QCIM in 6 weeks and frankly, all this pounding in hard surfaces was getting my feet, legs and thighs all aching and sore. So running on the trails like dirt, sand and grass offered a welcome respite.

We took advantage of the long week-end, so last Saturday, we traveled down to San Mateo, Rizal, particularly to the Timberland Heights trails. This isn’t the first time we were running these trail as we previously had ran the same trails during the inaugural All Terra King of the Mountain 10k Trail Race last June of this year.

However, for this run last Saturday, we purposely did not re-trace the same race route we did at that race but took alternate paths that criss-crossed wooded trails over rolling terrain on dirt and macadam roads, a river and a maze of ravines. Low lying fruit-bearing trees were abundant along the route that we were able to bend the branches a bit to reach for guava and santol fruits and these would sustain us for the duration of our run.

The weather was moderately cool, cloudy, maybe over 70 degrees but it had slightly rained the day before so the trails were a bit slippery. After parking near the clubhouse, we started our run.

A view of Metro Manila

A view of Metro Manila

Start of the trail

Entrance of the trail

Of mists and mountains

Of mists and mountains

Trail was muddy as it rained the night before

Trail was muddy as it rained the night before

June follows my lead

June follows my lead

Inside the western portion of the trail

Inside the western portion of the trail

Following the macadam trail

Following the macadam trail

Slush and mud portions

Slush and mud portions

Past the isolated church

Past the isolated church

Little barrier

Little barrier

Up to the wilderness

Up to the wilderness

Threading through wild grass

Threading through wild grass and bamboo

More of hiking the single track trail

More of hiking the single track trail

Towards its inner sanctum

Towards its inner sanctum

Climbing up the slippery trail

Climbing up the slippery trail

View of the trail upwards

View of the trail upwards

June maneuvers on his way down

June maneuvers on his way down

Enjoying the stream

Enjoying the stream

Wish we had more time to dip our feet in the water

Wish we had more time to dip our feet in the water

June takes a closer view of the stream

June takes a closer view of the stream

Strong currents

Strong currents

We had pickings of ripe guavas along the trails.

We had pickings of ripe guavas along the trails.

Small creatures like this one form part of the trails

Small creatures like this one form part of the trails

Finding my way down

Finding my way down

On our way back

On our way back

Sign of our times

Sign of our times

The softer part of the trails

The softer part of the trails

Out of the woods

Out of the woods

Exiting the Maraat side of Timberland Heights

Exiting the Maarat side of Timberland Heights

The climb back

The climb back

The craters of Maarat

The craters of Maarat

To the top

To the top

The red wall

The red wall

Up to the top

Up to the top

Back to the Timberland Heights Clubhouse

Back to the Timberland Heights Clubhouse

The 11k run took about 2 and a half hours which included a lot of walking, eating and just stopping on our tracks to savor nature. It was nice to be back on the trails!