Mt. Tres Marias (Three Marias). Three adjacent peaks snatching the title of being the highest points of Biliran. The lady name implicates the enchanting nature of the peaks. As seen and read from the logs of other mountaineers and trekking enthusiasts, Mt. Tres Marias offers a mossy and shady trail with chances of meeting vipers and exotic animals along the way, thus intriguing the minds and curiosity of other climbers.
Early June marked my second major climb for the year 2017. We called it “The Freedom Climb” to commemorate the 119th Philippine Independence Day. For this climb, we targeted to hit the highest point in Biliran province which is the Mt. Tres Marias.
As what most of my climbs are, this, once again, was organized by the NCR Trekkers Club. Planning the itinerary was not difficult at all, as the club has already conquered the same mountain the previous year. I, once again, invited myself to this event as the club opened the event for joiners. The funny thing though was that out of the 12 participants, only 4 official club members joined the climb.
Take off to Biliran
Friday night. Tapped-out from the office. At last, the itching of my feet will finally be addressed. We all met at Cebu City’s port to catch the night trip for Ormoc, Leyte. Legs fidgeting, we boarded the boat where we slept for a few hours before arriving at the port of Ormoc early in the morning. Waiting at the Ormoc’s port was one of our friends, Angel, who will join the climb. Right after we disembarked from the boat, we headed straight to the van terminal to catch a trip bound for Biliran. We sat for more than an hour inside the van before we arrived in Biliran. To make use of the time, I shut my eyes and went back to sleep to have enough energy for the main event.
Last minute loading
After the long winding trip from Ormoc, we finally arrived in Naval, Biliran’s Public Market where we met with our local guide, Ryan. It was still early in the morning when we arrived and we haven’t loaded our bellies yet. There are plenty of eateries in the market. But I brought the whole group to one of the eateries that I still remember vividly. It was also where we had our meals during our Sambawan-Biliran Adventure a few years back. With bellies loaded, we immediately dispersed to buy our lacking supplies like potable water and packed lunch to be eaten while on the trail. After almost an hour, we met at the van parking area nearby the port where our guide, Ryan, has already arranged a van to take us to the exact jump-off point of our trek, Brgy. Sampao of the municipality of Almeria.
Start of the journey
The jump-off point is just around 30 minutes away from the Public Market. While on our way, our eyes were greeted with scenic appetizers. From green lands to marsh terracing paddies, the view made my limbs shudder out of excitement. Finally, we reached the exact place where we will start our trek.
Registration logs and fees were then filled and a short stretching and prayer were done before we advanced with our trek. Knowing that we will be passing through several waterfalls on our trail added extra motivation for us to head on. Let out the cameras and start snapping! We can’t help but keep on snapping. Well, you can’t blame us, the views were just great. I, however, needed extra limbs to do my vlogging and the picture-taking at the same time.
After several uphill and downhills, just a few meters away from where we started our trek, was our first reward. From the gushing sound of its waters, I can hear the invitation from a few meters away. I can feel the excitement rushing through my veins making my bones shudder. Skipping through my steps, I hurriedly made it to the first waterfall, Ulan-Ulan Waterfall. Snap here and snap there. I cannot count the number of photos I took of the waterfall. Due to my excitement, I frantically went closer to the waterfall without even minding my footsteps. Because of that, I paid the consequences. A huge bang echoed as I slipped from the slippery rock and boom went my butt. Thank goodness I was left unharmed especially my camera. Especially my camera! I haven’t done paying my monthly installment yet.
My quick shame was remedied by the cold mist from the waterfall. I stood up as if nothing happened and continued to be awed by the majestic beauty of Ulan-Ulan Waterfall. The waterfall reminds me of Casaroro Waterfall but with a touch of Asik-Asik Waterfall. I haven’t been to the latter, I just saw several photos online. With the green mossy facade, the waterfall was all vibrant. The bushes and the rocks on its facade make the water and the mist fall like a rain, thus the name Ulan-Ulan or “rain” in Bisaya dialect. As the mist caressed through my cheeks tempting me to take a plunge, my body shivered and about to give in. But time did not allow us, we still have a long way to go and we need to be at the campsite before the sun resigns.
Just right above Ulan-Ulan Waterfall is another one where we spent most of our time indulging with its cold waters.
The waterfall was small but has a deep pool-like basin that catches the water. I did not bother taking a dip though. I was avoiding getting wet or carrying wet clothes with me. The water was so tempting that I almost gave in. But I already set my mind, so I just went around and took several photos while the others went on and enjoyed the waters.
Keep marching on
Our guide was smart enough to limit our stay on the waterfall for only 20 minutes. We still have a long steep way ahead before reaching our campsite. Time’s up! We packed up and continued our trek towards the camping site.
Another set of uphill, boulders, rivers and slippery rocks before we reach the campsite. There were sections of the trail where we have to traipse along the thin walls of small irrigation canals.
The slippery cliff trails made the trek even more challenging. One mistake and you might end up falling right down the cliff. Even more on my case as I was wearing a pair of trekking shoes not suited for slippery rocks and concrete. But thank goodness I went through safe.
The devil and the demon
Every climb, there are always challenges. It could be the load you are carrying or the non-stop complaining peers. But for my case, the devil was neither of what I mentioned. I was actually feeling groggy that time as I lack sleep the night before. My shoes cannot grip on the slippery rocks and my sense of balance was all messed-up. I was having a hard time following through the slippery trails. But the worst of all was the demon I felt grumbling inside my belly. Every effort I make finding my balance on every step was equated with the feeling of the demon punching a hole through my gut. For once I made a decision to exorcise myself. I asked my companions to wait for me as I quickly detoured and dug a hole to bury the spawn of hell that has bothered me for a while.
Slowly, I positioned myself. Planting my feet and securing my base. The time has come for the beast to leave from me. The battle has begun. I got sweaty as little by little I exorcised myself. A little more push and everything will be better. Hurrah! It was a victory. I was successful in defeating and exorcising the demon. The battle has won. I buried the beast as if delivering it back to the gates of the seventh hell. LOL (teehee)
To the path of exhaustion
Several minutes have passed and the rest of my companions were already waiting for me.
No regrets though as I felt way lighter and more focused after the battle. I never felt more energetic before. Step by step we continued gaining and covering more distance. Passing through different trails. From the muddy paths, slippery boulders, exhaustingly steep open trails and foresty tunnels. It was a long trek and we haven’t covered the half of the distance yet.
We passed along another waterfall. Nomad Waterfall lies silently almost unnoticeable. The waterfall has an eerie diagonal slide and somehow looks isolated.
But be wary though, the visitors are warned not to swim mindlessly as danger lurks at the basin of the waterfall. Water current is said to be strong deep the waterfall’s basin. So all we did was to photograph it from the distance then off we went and continued with our trek.
The revitalizing power of nature
The sun has finally emerged deciding to help in depleting my energy.
But the healing power of the mountain keeps on revitalizing my soul. The songs of the insects accompanied by the trumpets of the wind and the percussion of the trees brought music to my ears. The lush green of the forest eased my eyes while the fresh air repaired my lungs.
At last, we reached a river creek. We stopped for a while and took our lunch under the shade of the trees. Some of us managed to take a dip in the waters.
I, on the other hand, was satisfied by dipping my feet in the cold water while watching the dragonflies dancing along with the flow of the water.
Mt. Tres Marias Camping Site
After our quick break, we continued the trek. Few more hours, another set of slippery trails, dangerous cliffs, and muddy pathways we conquered. At last, we reached the camping site. It was already late in the afternoon and the sky was brooding with a light shower. Before anything else, we quickly pitched our tents just in case the sky starts pouring.
The camping area is not that spacious. What made it more challenging is the uneven ground. Nothing flat. A ground pad is a must or else, you’ll get a free back massage from the rocks and tree roots on the ground. The camping area is not that wide. Barely enough to fit only at most 10 while the rest can pitch by the trail. Lucky enough, there were no other climbers that day except for us.
One of the best mountain meal I had
Everything settled, it’s time to bring out the cook sets and the burners. We still have to cook for our dinner. But before that, we went down to the water source to refill our containers for cooking and drinking. Just a few meters away from the camping area, deep under the tall trees and eerie forest, the soothing sound of a spring river tickled my ears. Right when we reached the spring, we can’t help but have a quick wash of our stinking bodies. The water was so cold that I was hesitant at first. But seems like everybody was enjoying the cold water and they looked well refreshed, and so I can’t help but give in. It was already dark when we came back to the camping ground with our refilled water containers.
Then the boiling sound of the soup and the aroma from our cooking food invaded our senses triggering our bellies to demand a fill. We enjoyed our meal like never before. It was so satisfying especially the pork “humba” that was prepared by Sir Jay (Thank you, Sir!)
A night of spectacle
As the darkness started to blanket the surroundings, the choirs of the wild started their symphonies. The clapping leaves and the barking trunks harmonized with the chimes of the wind. Then our guide demanded us to turn off all our light source. I was startled and nervous because I thought something undesirable is happening. I was asking the others why we suddenly turned off our lights. Then the magic began as the tree branches started to glow and I asked no more. From the tree trunks, dry twigs, down to the ground rocks and fallen leaves. Everything was glowing! Our eyes glittered by the spectacle. All we could speak were words of amazement. I was in a deep awe. I was hypnotized, I must say.
Socials night was cut short as everybody was dead exhausted and the air started bringing the cold breeze and chilling mist. I got into my tent not long after. Lying down and not yet about to give in, I recalled everything that happened during that day. Seems like everybody is not yet asleep as I listened to the sounds from my neighboring tents. I can still hear chit-chats and sudden giggles. Then the spirit of sleep came to visit me. I closed my eyes with a smile on my face. I let go a huge sigh accompanied with a great hope of another spectacular adventure tomorrow. Slowly my body gave in as I fell into the deep slumber. It was a great day and it was a spectacular night.
Credits to James Arthur for my featured photo.
Without humans, mother nature can live on. Without mother nature, humans cannot exist.
Leave No Trace.
Leave Nothing but Footprints, Take Nothing but Photos, and Kill Nothing but Time.
What you bring, take it back with you.
Dispose waste properly.
Leave what you find.