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TREKKING MT. PINATUBO, PHILIPPINES

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In June of 1991, a volcano in the Philippines erupted and some considered it to be the biggest eruption in living memory. Lahar flow covered much of the surrounding villages, towns and forest. Neighboring cities were carpeted in a layer of ash that put normalcy on hold for months. The eruption rendered 2 of the biggest US bases in Southeast Asia useless and affected the rest of the world through weather patterns.

Read more on Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia Blogs

Or take a look at the 3 Part post here on MACphotographyDY with more photos.

Mac_3474x Mt Pinatubo Lake

CRATER LAKE PINATUBO: THROUGH A DSLR

Here’s Mt. Pinatubo: Part 1 and Part 2.

Enjoy the third and last installment from my Mt. Pinatubo series.

I am posting this on a break from work here in Taipei so you’ll forgive me for the wordlessness of this post. After all, this is a photo blog =) -thats just the most convenient excuse I can think of now…

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THE TREK TO CRATER LAKE

Mt. Pinatubo: Part 1 just in case you missed it.

After the lengthy comfort room brake our guide signals us for the start of the trek. As the sign states, 20 minutes for senior citizens but it took our group of 10 around 40 minutes to get to the crater lake (aged 30-37). The time frame just isn’t so accurate unless you’ve got a military grade hummer to use. Or the senior citizen they used to time the trek was Richard Simmons on LSD.

Mac_3441 Mt Pinatubo

Mac_3453s Pinatubo

Beautiful and scenic, the trek up was full of lush foliage with streams of cold fresh water albeit form the crater lake. Need to be careful navigating the trek through streams and rocks. A twisted ankle will not help anyone. The most important gear to have here are good comfortable shoes and does not have to be waterproof as wading through the streams were a very refreshing break.

Mac_3448s Mt Pinatubo

Mac_3456ex Pinatubo

Upon reaching the crater lake, the blue water that sits stagnant (only to be replenished by rain water with a man made hole on the side of the volcano wall draining excessive water) will take your breath away.

Mac_3467 Mt Pinatubo

We had clear blue skies before starting the climb down to the lake itself-Helped of course, by man made rock stair way about 3 or 4 stories high.

Mac_3474x Mt Pinatubo

Once the clouds pretty much covered the sun, the water turned a greenish tint instead of the beautiful light blue. (Left photo-cloud covered. Right photo-arriving clouds)

Mac_3477s Pinatubo

Mac_3482x Mt Pinatubo

Do bring a change of clothes to comfortably experience a swim in a sulfur enriched lake. Just don’t dunk your head in the water as sulfur makes disaster on the hair. Those boats on the foreground are for rent to get you to the other side of the lake. I will get into that in Part 3.

Next up in the Mt. Pinatubo series PART 3-photographs from the crater lake-where I unpacked the rest of the gear and went to work.

PART 1: BARANGAY STA. JULIANA TO CROW VALLEY

The trip starts before dawn with a full moon accompanying our van. A few hours later we reach our initial destination of Pinatubo Spa Town, BNGY Santa Juliana, Capas, Tarlac. This is the main stop for all private vehicles and the place to register yourselves in case anything happens.

Mac_3348s Pinatubo

It is so typical of the Philippine government to neglect this area except for a rudimentary Philippine Air Force check point for anything out of the ordinary. If it were not for a Korean company putting up this clean dinning/shower/massage venue there would be nothing by way of comfort except for a few family run sari-sari stores. Then again, it could be good without it being a profit generating tourist attraction for our country. Ain’t our government grand for thinking so much ahead? At least they paved the road concrete until the start of the lahar fields.

Mac_3343 Pinatubo

After a fifteen minute pee/stretch break our group packs into the 4×4’s. All 4×4 jeeps are old and put together from various mostly surplus and seldom new parts and all drivers/guides are locals. This is quite practical as the terrain is very rough. All roads consist of just lahar and lahar terrain changes from day to day based on rain and/or wind conditions.

Mac_3356 Pinatubo

Roads are pretty much even terrain but it gave ‘bump and grind’ a whole new meaning. Hold on to that camera or it might fly out of your dusty paws and make sure your cap or hat is tight on your head. The jeep we were on was doing a solid 40-50 kph. It felt like being on a convoy under General Rommel’s command on Germany’s Africa campaign in WWII-not that I’m that old it was just my imagination going on overdrive.

Mac_3387 Pinatubo

Mac_3428s Mt Pinatubo

Mac_3411ex Pinatubo

The lahar is a problem for photograpic equipment. Make sure to have a filter as front element of your lens as dust will be a problem. My Canon 50D/24-70L stayed in the well protected back pack until the crater lake. I opted to use my Canon G7 p&s the whole way up and down. Trust me, dust was everywhere and you can’t just wipe it off. You will need a good fine brush to take off dust before wiping down gear with some water. I suggest some sort of protection with just the front element exposed-still not a guarantee of a dust free experience. There will be a big chance the fine lahar dust will give a high five to your camera sensor.

Mac_3389ex Pinatubo

Mac_3398 Pinatubo

Mac_3396 Mt Pinatubo

The trip took about an hour or so to reach the trek point for the Pinatubo crater lake. Here, two outhouse style comfort rooms provide you with the basic-lets take a whiz and run type of scenario. Usually, the crowds get too big and these are mostly used by the women. On that morning, us manly men, opted for the-lets hide behind the jeeps and shower the grass lands with mineral bodily fluids-complete with photo ops and won’t be posted as it is NSFW!

Mac_3408 Pinatubo

Mac_3437 Mt Pinatubo

Next-Mt. Pinatubo, Part 2: The Trek to Crater Lake

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Mac_3482x Mt Pinatubo Crater Lake

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