The package tour for our trek to Mt. Pinatubo's crater began with a ride of a four-wheel drive. Each vehicle can bring four passengers and a tour guide to the hiking site. My husband and I were with Risa and Nick in our white four by four. The weather was a little unpredictable. While the day started out a bit drizzly, as we made our way through streches of lahar, the sun was already beating down hard.
What we actually call lahar is volcanic ash, remnants from Pinatubo's explosion in 1991. What used to be a rich expanse of agricultural land was covered with sulfuric ash. There is hope yet, with more and more plants growing. People are starting to try and plant crops in the lahar. Many have succeeded but it will take a while before agriculture will flourish once more.
A giant river and several streams snaked its way through the lahar. It was another sign that after the destruction the explosion caused, nature is experiencing a rebirth.
The tour guide had the jeep stop at a fork in the road. We were instructed to try out the stream on the left fork. Lo! It was nice and warm. The water was coming from a hotspring far ahead. I could have stayed a while and just enjoyed the water, but our path was different. We took the right fork and continued on the road that will lead us to the starting path of our trek to the Pinatubo crater.
The terrain was starting to incline and it was also then that we realized it was indeed important to have a four by four vehicle instead of the usual kind. Ash was not exactly the best road condition to drive in, that's why. There were a few bumps and kinks on the road, but nothing that a good driver can not maneuver.
We passed by some children panning gold the old fashioned way. There were farmers and their carabao lugging some sacks of produce. Houses were few and far in between, but as you passed homes, colorful laundry lined their yards. Little children took a quick break from picking rocks from the river to wave at us, the water winking slyly in the sun.
It was a good start of the day. Those of us in the jeep were feeling quite upbeat until we finally reached the starting point of the trek.
There were several other vehicles parked. From where we were, we could see the other groups who have gone ahead to take an hour's hike to the mountain.
We got off. I was excited!