Hike and chill: here’s my list of 5 favorite spots for a quick hike near Manila + some tips for your first time
Just before I published this, I had a small talk with my colleague about his day hike that coming weekend. It was his first time mountain climbing and honestly, I find it quite funny hearing stories like those. Not because I think I am a big time hiker, but I laugh at myself because I felt the same exact excitement back when I was tagged to join a day hike. I mean, it’s kinda cute.
I never told anyone which my mother mountain was, but I am very vocal that I did only minor hikes and never at least once a major. It’s just nice seeing my past self in first time hikers, and if ever I would be joining or having a hike again, I’m sure I’d feel exactly the same as I did before.
Anyway, I hope this helps: I’ve collated some tips for first-time hikes that I learned from experience. I know some of the items are a bit cliche and “common sense”, but if I included them in my “a-must” list, it means it’s true and really (I mean REALLY!) important.
Sharing some parts of my blog, before anything else!
Moving on, another challenge is thinking of how can you make your story interesting enough to get people to listen or read your page. Photos! Apparently people love viewing photos more than reading detailed stories, so no matter how much information you have you still have to own a technique on editing your photos. Here’s mine.
Tips and tricks for your first time hike
1. Train yourself before the hike
Many of you would think “ano ba, minor day hike lang, training pa?!” You need to understand that we don’t have the same level of capability, pace, and well, technically everything. Hiking is not just a walk in the park. Hiking doesn’t only require courage, but strength and balance.
Okay, so you’re either a beginner or haven’t been out hiking for a little while already. One great way to re-enter the hobby (or habit?) is to enjoy a day hike. But it’s important that you let your body know first that you’re going to be pushing it beyond your regular everyday walk. Take a longer walk than your usual for at least every other day. Make sure you do a little cardio and wake your heart up.
2. It’s not bad if you start small
Here’s a breaking news: there is no official “hiking season”. Yes, I’ve heard a lot of “when is the best time to hike?” and the answer is uh-uh, there is no best time to hike. Well, technically, it really depends on where are you going to do the trekking. Some place are okay to hike all-year round, some trails are only safe during the summer, while some mountains would give you great experiences on rainy seasons.
That’s just one factor to be considered when choosing your trail. Some of my friends would get embarrassed sharing their first hiking experience because it was not as adventurous as other people expects. Later on this post I shared 5 of my favorite spots for hiking which I think you’ll appreciate, too!
Our minds should be always open why people choose what. Every decision is critical, especially if you’re not yet familiar with it. If you are a first-time hiker, it’s not bad or embarrassing if you start with a level one hike. It’s actually a good start, to be honest. Clearing all the level before you level up.
3. Start early: pack light
One thing I noticed with my more experienced hiking friends is that they are not sharing or teaching beginners what everything they know about packing your trekking stuff. I assume it was because it somehow depends on the person what he/she really needs or how they prefer to pack. Still, there are these basic needs we all have to carry because, here’s an honest opinion: not all things are meant to be shared.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s why it’s best to have a buddy – to have someone there in case you need something. We can always expect and ask for help, but it is always best if we’re all ready with these basic equipment, such as first aid kits.
All the stuff you “need” to bring, how to pack light? One simple answer: bring only those that you “need”, not those you just want. You’ll realize this sooner, or maybe on your second or third hike, but doesn’t hurt to do the same the first time.
4. Wear the right outfit
It is common (and totally understandable) that when we’re going on an adventure for the first time, we get ready from materials up to outfits. What is Instagram for, if you don’t have the best OOTD, right? I hate to break it t you, but you actually don’t have to buy new hiking outfits. Your old leggings and lose shirt will do the trick. But whatever, go shop if you insist, as long as you will be wearing comfortable clothes because remember, you are HIKING!
The shoes, though, is very much important. You don’t want to go home with a wrecked pair of slip-ons. DO NOT use your sneakers for hiking! Any kind of sneakers, even that most expensive and most quality one. Wear either hiking or trekking shoes or trekking sandals. DO NOT wear house sleepers! (Saying this because I saw one girl literally displaying her Havaianas at some rocky mountain. But honestly, I did some rock climbing with a cute pair of Banana Peel myself and it was fun!)
5. Keep yourself hydrated
This may sound “common sense” but this is also the most important part of hiking – hydrate yourself, and hydrate yourself properly.
How much water do you need to bring? It actually depends – some say 2 liters are enough, some say 5 liters is the ideal. You know for yourself if how much you feel thirsty or dry. (If not, try working out and from there you’ll know.) Personally, I bring 2 liters of drinking water for a day hike. Considering how much I need, how much I can carry, and if there are water sources along the trail.
How frequent should you hydrate yourself? The ideal is a sip for at least every hour. Yes, a sip. You only need to wet your mouth if it feels dry. Do not drink too much water during the trek or you’ll feel heavier and lose air. However, again, it depends on how much you can tolerate.
6. Protect your skin
You may feel lucky you seen to get unaffected by sunburn, but you’re still human with a delate skin, so better take care of it before it’s too late. I know people who just do whatever they want to and stay under the sun because, apparently, they don’t get affected by sunburns or similar effects made by the sun. While I’m annoyed how lucky they are, I also am worried how much damage it brings to their skin without even noticing it.
The best approach, still, is to apply sunblock (better if organic or eco-friendly). But most of the beginners are advised to wear long sleeves or sun-protect sleeves instead. At elast on my experience.
Climbing a mountain, regardless of level, is dangerous. Not only because there are hidden cliffs, but you don’t know what kind of insect may harm you. (Plus, I think, traveling in general is kind of scary as well.)
Most mountains do not have network signal/reception so you cannot ping a friend real-time in case of an emergency. Safety tip? Bring your first aid kit, register your real, full name on the tourism log book, and inform anyone from your family or close friends where you’re going.
8. Do a quick research about everything local
Whenever I go out of town – hiking or not – I research first things about where I’m going. How’s the transpo, estimated budget, what to do, where to eat, local language (best if you know the basics), culture or local practice (especially when out of the country), even IG photos from other travelers. Why it’s important? It gives familiarity to a place and it’s people. Once you already are familiar, it gets much easier to adjust how you interact to local people and it gives you even more time to explore the place. You don’t want to waste hours just waiting for a ride along a remote area.
5 of my favorite spots for a quick hike
We are doing something just to live – work, eat, pay bills, sleep, repeat. And sometimes by doing those very important things, we forget take a pause and appreciate the things beyond making a living.
Personally, my most favorite way to refresh is trekking up to the mountains and take a moment there maybe with a nice cup of coffee. It just feels so different than any other ways to unwind. I mean, it literally makes me cry! Imagine the 3 or 4 hours of hike, with limited water, limited food, and limited energy. I can’t fully describe the feeling when I complete a hike, but it’s very rewarding reaching the mountain’s peak, seeing the beautiful view, after all the challenges along the trail.
Below are just few of my most favorite quick hikes near Manila.
1. Mt. Daraitan and Tinapak River
Many experienced hikers would say Mt. Daraitan is not for the adventure seeking individuals, but with the level of four out of nine, it’s already a tough challenge for first time hikers or beginners. Most parts of the trail are straight ascent. It may feel very steep for a first-timer, but along the trail there are either hand rails or ropes to hold on to, proof that the mountain is well-maintained. As of writing, hikers say most parts of the other trail are already cemented, anyway.
Mt. Daraitan has become one of my favorites because of Tinipak River. You can trek directly to the river side without traversing to the mountain, actually. But I just loved how it made me feel soooo refreshed after the hike.
Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon
Major jumpoff: Brgy. Daraitan (village centre), Tanay
Minor jumpoff: Sitio Cablao Brgy. Pagsangahan, General Nakar
LLA: 14°36′48.5′′N 121°26′19.5′′ E, 739 MASL (+600)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2.5-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Tropical forest, limestone formations, river trek
Total disclaimer: “Laiban Trio” isn’t the official name of the trail. I just named it that way, and I’m not sure if anyone else used it before of after me. Some call it Laiban Trilogy, or Laiban Quatro.
The circuit is a long trek. Some parts are easy peasy, and some are too steep even for me. But the end-to-end trail is a beaut. Cliffs, fogs, mountain range views. All the effort and loss of air to breathe (lol) on every stop is worth it.
Aside from the waterfalls along the trail, the beautiful rock formations, the assault to steep and steeper trails, I also loved the part where we pitched our tents. We camped on the plains right beside the mountain range. During the night, you’d literally hear cows mooing, horses neighing, and other farm animals within the area. Definitely one of the sounds I’d love to hear while taking a break from the cities.
Brgy. Laiban, Rizal
Altitude: 488+MASL (Mt. Lubo), 602+ MASL (Ngusong Kabayo), 625+ MASL (Tangwa Peak)
Days required / Hours to summit (including waterfalls): 5-6 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-2
Features: grasslands, scenic views of the peaks and valleys of Sierra Madre, waterfalls
Effortless trekking to a beautiful view of the sea of clouds? Treasure Mountain is one (if not the only) of the easiest trek where you can literally take advantage of the “sea of clouds” picturesque. It’s too easy I walked up to the top while I was on my fourth month pregnancy!
Why it became one of my faves? ICYM: I had a little trek while I was pregnant. I know it’s scary to do such when you are having a baby, however it became my “goodbye for now” hike since I never climbed other mountains yet (as of writing) since I gave birth.
TREASURE MOUNTAIN EDUCATIONAL CAMPSITE
Sitio Maysawa, Brgy. Cuyambay Tanay, Rizal
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-3 hours by trek, 10-20 minutes by ride
Features: grasslands, sea of clouds, kawa bath on nearby spot
4. Mt. Romelo
If you’re up for a little mud challenge, climb Mt. Romelo at the start of the rainy season. You gotta be careful, as the trail is kind of both slippery and sticky. What to love about Mt. Romelo? Of course, the experience, and the smell! You’ll get what I mean.
Major Jump-off: Brgy. Macatad, Upland Siniloan
Elevation: 300 MASL
Days required / hours to summit: 1 day, 2-3 hours
Specs: Minor Climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail Class 1
Features: Waterfalls, rain forest
I have very personal memorable experience at Mt. Bira Bira I can’t share online. But if we’re friends, I’ll consider opening this chapter of my book. But honestly, this is the reason why this mountain became one of my favorites. It’s not a happy memory, but an important realization came in to me on my second trek to this place.
NAGSASA COVE VIA MT. NAGSASA
Major Jumpoff: Sitio San Martin, Subic
LLA: 14°49.03N, 120°06.25E, 450 MASL
Days required / Hours to cove: 1-2 days / 3-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-2
Features: River crossing, beach
You all know I am a foodie, an artist, a beach girl, but among all of those, my first love are the mountains. Here’s a quick fact about myself: I was scared of mountains back when I was a kid (a really small, thin kid). I see them as huge monsters trying to get me and bring me somewhere else. And now, I love them. I even met my baby’s dad there. (LOL, walang forever)
How about you? What do you think about the mountains?
Looking for more places to visit? Need someone to travel with? Waiting for someone to be your food buddy? Wait no more and just stay connected! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I also am on VSCO and Zomato, in case you’re curious or interested to join me in my travels and food reviews. Or let’s chat via email through firstname.lastname@example.org.
May Vargas (@themhayonnaise) is an auditor by profession, a writer by passion, and a single mom in between. Currently based in Manila, she spends her time (well, aside from her corporate job and being a mom) blogging about food, travel, and almost anything. She tends to overshare her experiences and dramas on themhayonnaiseonline.com.
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