Hallasan – South Korea’s Highest


It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.  – Edmund Hillary



It was March 2016 when I thought of going to Jeju (an Island south west of Korea) to participate in a marathon, and I indeed had a good time in running along the north western part of the island; unfortunately, though, many people talked about its highest mountain Halla, It is very unfortunate that I do not have much time in climbing up the mountain not to mention my struggle in walking after completing the marathon. Oh well, I just told myself, I’m coming back.  Luckily, I was able to fulfill my promise this summer to accomplish one goal – Be at South Korea’s highest peak!

200 meters to the top
Hallasan, actually has 5 routes to take with varying difficulty, but because I was m visiting, I took the longest one – the Seongpanak Trail.  I didn’t start late nor early, but I arrived in jump off at around 9:30AM and started hiking, the trail is relatively easy comparing with the other mountains I’ve been, but because it’s nearly 10Km from the summit, it can still be definitely tiring.  There is also no time to waste since they have a rule that no one can go to the summit after 1PM if you didn’t the final stop over.

A Dry Lake in Along the Seongpanak Trail
Check out more details about Halla Mountain – Here


Hallasan Elevation
My GPS Report – The trail I took, the elevation, distance and pace.
Took me 7 hrs to complete the whole hike, and got loads of fun!

I’m really considering hiking back in winter!



Winter was almost done when I thought of joining a social group through “Meet Up” (Smart Phone Application) in Seoul.  Thanks to my friend Mac who introduced me to the group and so I was able to get a change to hike the 3rd highest mountain in South Korea, The Mt Seoraksan.

seoraksan (4)

All the way from Seoul we traveled probably less than 3 hours to get to the Gangwon Province, North East of the country.

The trail that we went trough I should say, was not really hard; however, because I left my crampons in the bus, I was a bit messed up as I need to worry about not slipping.  The good thing was, the ice/snow was not really that bad that day probably because it was already February and most of the snow were melting, so I was able to hike okay.

The hike was good enough for more than two hours but my friend and I took longer because we took more photos; hence we are unable to visit more spots around; however, I guess, that’s just probably another reason to return in the Fall! Yeah!

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Climbing to the Top

Just Climb!

Almost summit

Mt Geumjeong is probably one of my most visited mountains in Busan, South Korea.  Aside from the reason that it’s near, but also because of the different routes I could check out.


Of course, climbing to the top with some friends can make the trip worthwhile.

What’s even more fascinating are the locals; I couldn’t agree more that they are the friendliest, offering you food and rice wine, makoli (I love it so much!). One old woman just told me, I look like a naughty man. Haha! I just don’t know if it’s a compliment, but she gave us more tomatoes and cucumbers to eat!

Here are the photos of my last weekends climb!

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Nostalgia: Chautauqua

chautauqua park

It was May 2008. Chautauqua Park in the heart of Boulder, Colorado is one of the most relaxing places away from my home country that I have visited; back in that year, I was totally a home buddy and enjoyed hanging out with TV and gym, but my trip in this place made me realized that there are far more better things to do. Maybe I was just to bored or just get tired of being a couch potato.

I can’t remember how good the trail is but I bet it was totally easy. We were actually walking in jeans and cargo pants at that time and we actually thought it was comfortable. Lol! What a total newbie!


Anyway, this place inspired my to move, to pledge that I will be more of an outdoor person when get back home. I felt guilty of only realizing it late, but as the saying goes, better late than never. So here I am looking forward to explore more. 🙂


Tarak Attack!

But all of this success came at the end of a long climb.  – Michael Castle

Jump off in Mariveles

Ronnel an runner-friend informed me that there will also be an ultra-trail event that will be held in Nueva Vizacaya a week after Bohol Ultra-Marathon.  I was determined to join until after results of the latter’s race.  I decided not to participate because I know that I won’t be in shape to run and race in trail in seven days.  It was a tough call for me.

Start of Trek!

So there you go, I left with nothing for weekend. I shared my frustrations to another friend and he mentioned that I may not be able to run 60K but sure he knew that I can do a leisure climb.

“How about Mt Tarak?  I’ll bring the tent for you.  Just bring your good self clothes a some necessary stuff.”   It took me less took me less than a minute to agree.

Along the way is a prairie

Come Saturday and I was in the bus and started to meet new friends.  I noticed most of them were stuffed.  Medium sized trail bags good enough for an overnight camp.  Little that my friend knew that I want to kill him that time for I only brought a medium sized assault pack I usually use for trail running.  Damn!  A big guy like me carrying a mini bag is shameful. My friend smirk at me when he saw what Ive got.  Hey, I’ve got stuffs here.  Water, food, mosquito lotion, wipes, plate, utensils. lamp, socks, sweater.  hah!  Just no tent and cook set. hehe!

Tough climb for me. Hwyuh!

From Manila leaving at 5AM, we arrived at the Mariveles, Bataan jump-off probably at 8AM.  Prepared a bit had a municipal registration and grab some food before we start moving at 9:30.  Oh boy. I was a real newbie now.  Last time I hiked was like a year ago in Mt Sembrano.  We ended up in Papaya river 30 minutes after noon.  We have decided to camp there for the water source availability. 2:30 PM we continued until summiting before sunset at 5PM.

Papaya River in Mt Tarak was the only water source as I was informed.

I had a real hard time going up and not to mention going down  I was like turtle rolling when I slid from the muddy trail.  blah!  We ended up night trekking for we were about to return to Papaya Camp Site at 7PM.  We had dinner an hour after and had some socials and rested.

Serene Summit…

Next morning after having breakfast, and decided to break camp at 9:30AM.  By 11, we were already at a hut owned by an old lady I just happen  to know by the name “Manang”  (not really good with names or I didn’t heard they mentioned her name).  By noon time we were already having lunch and eventually left for Manila.

I couldn’t thank enough my friend Brandy for inviting me over on this trip.   I am glad that once again I was reunited with the thing I also want to do.   Appreciating nature and God’s creation was  a thing money can’t buy.  It maybe tough going up to the peak but the satisfaction after getting there was priceless!  Hopefully I would be able to do it when I come back.  Meet new friends as well I can share my passion.  Until next time…

Check out more of my photos:

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Trekking Pinatubo

The poetry of the earth is never dead.  ~John Keats

The photo would be even better without me but I need this photo op! XD

 T’was raining that early morning when we the bus took off, puzzled at the thought of making it there but we have decided to pursue.  We can always go back anyway and at least we have tried.  Everything is set up and there’s no turning back.  Thanks to the organizers “AKYAT PINATUBO” and their sponsors for setting up this event.   My failed plans in going to this place finally came to reality.

The four wheel drive adventure could be scary when it passes through a soft, wet and muddy ground!
The trek started riding a four-wheel drive.  I haven’t seen anything yet but things are getting better and better each time we pass the muddy trail.  It was a little scary sometimes when passing through a soft ground, afraid that we might fall off or the jeep would turtle roll (I could sometimes turn paranoid).
It was raining! Yeah it is...
We stopped the moment the four-wheel drive could no longer move towards the rocky part, ’twas our time to walk.  I’m not sure but they said it was an “8Km” trail.  I can do that in less than an hour but becuase it’s raining,  I’m on sandals,  It’s rocky and I’m picture taking, I bet it would take us more than two hours.
Water flow made the trek even harder.
It’s funny that the weather is acting weird that time.  It would rain and stop, rain again and stop.  I am no hard core mountaineer or trekker so I find it a little hard for me; however, it was not a good time to whine about it, for I know I have a high tolerance on discomforts.
It would be fun to at least sit and enjoy the view.
Well, a little break should be fine…. 🙂
Half way, I guess...
As we move,  things are turning out to be even better, the sun is showing up now.  We are just a bit tired though, but this is peanut compared to a marathon.
Other than us, there are animals like goats and cows that roams around the area.
Mushrooms living on some tree trunk
During our trek,  other than water and rocks,  there are some stuff that we saw as well.   Goats and cows were roaming around the place, probably their shepherds put them there in search for grasses to eat.  Moss and mushrooms were visible also due to its moist ambiance.
Going up the crater now, on the sign I will know how will I be classified.
At last we came to the final pit stop,  and from there you will see a sign that classifies your level when you go up to the crater of Pinatubo.
The Majestic
Closer look
It's swimming time!!!
Like on a race, it was a total relief when you’ve reach finish line.  That’s the same feeling when we  had reached the crater.   We sat, swam, had picnic and enjoyed looking at its beauty like as if we were reading the poetry of nature.  Peaceful, Calm, Serene…
Running friends who joined me at "AKYAT PINATUBO"
So much of enjoying the place, but we need to go back.  8Km of trek again but it was easy for us this time.  The rain was over, me at picture-taking-mode no more, so I can now do what I want to do…  To RUN!
Oh well, not really running all through out but I did ran it, and made my running friends envy me and so they ran as well until we reached the jump off and to rest at the jeep. I came in first!  haha!
BDM Memory

Surprisingly, AKYAT PINTUBO  organizers mentioned that there will be a side trip.  Camp O’ Donell is nearby and it would be good to at least take some snap of the location.  BDM memories, flashed the moment we arrived.  We fooled around by doing this finish-line-last-few-meter-dash, took snaps of the place until we call it a day.

I slept tired with a smile that night.

Talamitam, A Grassland


Yes, I have registered for 50 Km in the upcoming TNF 100 that will be held in Baguio.  I may say that I am confident now with a 100 Km road race because of Bataan Death March (BDM) but seriously,  100 Km trail run in Baguio could be doubtful.  I don’t want to pressure myself  so I just registered a distance that I think I can at least finished.  TNF50.

A view of the peak

In lieu of the race event, I have decided to go for a day hike for a bit of training.  I asked an old friend Joel to accompany me on this on during our hike,  A long lost friend that I haven’t seen for nine years.

Trek starts...

Mt Talamitam was located in Nasugbu, Batangas at Km 83 Mark referencing Km 0 in Luneta.  We started at 10:20 AM.  On the trail, I immediately felt exaustion, probably due to minimal mileage for the past few weeks or probably due to the terrain that is I haven’t encountered for so long.  

A view along the road

We definitely had no intentions of running on this one but to at least get acclimated with the trail plus to enjoy the view.  Taking pictures of the place was another thing that I have enjoyed so well.


 Talamitam, despite of the heat was windy and indeed relaxing. 

Another View
View below
Another view of the peak

 Going up was tiring yet fun; however, when we are starting to aim for the summit before noon, we noticed that some of the tall  drying  grass seemed to have been burnt.  

Who ever did this must explain...

 We’re not really sure what happened.  If this was done by accident or on purpose, but we have suspected that it was done on purpose in order for the new grass to replace the drying taller grass.  I am not sure if this is a good thing or not… yet looking at the summit, it was, I dare say sadly, unpleasant… 

Photo op or trail running?

 Going down was easy, but a little bit boring, so we tried doing run walk strategy.  We have some picture taking too! Action shots!

Going down...



 While we end up our hike,  we went to the mountain spring to freshen up.  We took almost more than 30 minutes enojoying its cool water.

Spring to freshen up our sore body...

At last were done… and were hungry.  Reaching the jump off at 2:30, We have decided to eat.  Halo-halo, and softdrinks felt as if were at cloud 9,  lol!

Halo-halo and softdrinks!

Overall, I think that our day trip is fun.  I know that there are parts of the place that are somewhat disappointing, yet, Talamitam still got a beauty that we can appreciate.  It will always be fun to go back.  Indeed a good training for TNF.

Till our next climb...

Thank you Lord for this wonderful day…

More of Talamitam pic here

Makiling the Enchanted

Legends could possibly true… or maybe not.

I daresay that going for a dayhike in this place is not a waste of time. Tall trees and diverse species of plants are what you can see. Along the road you could contemplate about everything. It was long but relaxing. Feels like you were walking in a place were autumn really exists.


Diversity of Life


me and the gabi plant at the back

My friends trying to go up

Reaching at the summit ma be really fulfulling.

And of course rewarding!

As what most hiker-mountaineer always remind us, we should always be careful when going in for a hike. The Makiling experience I had was the weirdest I guess due to my colleague experience where in she got lost and felt like she was in a Morbius Stip. Eventually she just came back to her senses when she called our name outloud. Hoah! I hope she’s not drugged… lol!

There has been legends about the mountain… that it was being guarded by a fairy named Maria Makiling. It could be true or could be not; whatever it is, what we could always do on our end is just to learn to appreciate it’s beauty and share it to people and at the same time protecting it so that the next generation could still have a look at this wonderful place.

more of makiling here


If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. Then quit. There’s no use in being a damn fool about it. –WC Fields

Pulag Boys
Takbo.ph Pulag Boys who tried... failed... but will try again...

It was already scheduled more than a month ago that I am going to Mt Pulag; the highest mountain in Luzon. I have been day dreaming that at long last I will be able to witness the majestic sea of clouds at its peak that I usually see at the pictures; however, due to an unforeseen visitor, my so called total vacation was ruined… well, at least I have seen the famous Ambukalao dam…

Yes, it was ONDOY, the formidable typhoon that I have taken too lightly.  It’s really been raining in the mountain the whole time… I was shivering even I already have three layers of upper garments on (shirt, sweater and waterproof jacket) because I was only wearing a pair of pants that could not combat against the unpleasant cold wind.

oh yeah, at least i saw Ambuklao
oh yeah, at least i saw Ambuklao

We have no choice when we arrived but to stay at the ranger station all though out the day… all through out the night.  Pigging out was the only way to kill our world-weariness pairing it with bottles of gin and rum and brandy. Most of our phones were futile because there was no signal except for those who are SMART subscribers that at least could receive messages.  We’ve received a lot of text messages from our friends asking our condition (oh boy I was deeply touched) and informing us that it was raining hard and flooding in Manila.

Seriously, it was a though night...
Seriously, it was a tough night...

Getting sleep was another challenge for all of us. Since we are immobile and doing nothing but putting our eyes closed, the dreaded cold wind definitely took advantage of it.  I was half asleep the whole night (though there were times that Poj said I am snoring).

Morning came and I am still willful about getting to the summit… but the weather was too insatiable to give us a little comfort.  It was undeniably risky so they called everything off.  We arrived at Baguio a couple of hours after and only until then that I realized the tragic event that happened in Manila.  I was stunned.  Few of our friends were affected, that they would need to go on their roof due to flood and others were unreachable because the phone lines were already screwed.  I felt that I am more fortunate than the others.  I was thankful that we are safe had enough food and drinks for all of us.

Wilnar's Kryptonite:  The Long and Winding Road from Baguio to Benguet
Wilnar's Kryptonite: The Long and Winding Road from Baguio to Benguet

My vacation may have been spoiled and the unfortunate event occurred could have pissed us all, yet I it was still a learning experience …  that the mountains were always there and you always have time to go there… over and over again, whenever you wanted…

Aquafortis Gang!
Aquafortis Gang!

Thank you to all the people I’ve met up there who cooked for us and for all the crazy experiences that they have shared.

Enjoy the pictures click PULAG PICTURES

BOP TO THE TOP (The Pico de Loro Freedom Climb)

Foggy Summit made us all upset for not seeing the view...
The Foggy Summit of Pico de Loro

June 12, 2009. A number of takbo.ph members planned of climbing Pico de Loro. Without hesistation, I immediately signed-up for it because I knew that we are going to do it as a sign of our Patriotism to our country.  It was entitled freedom climb due to the fact that mountaineers will climb 40 mountains in the Philippines to raise the flag at peak. Pico de Loro in Maragundon Cavite was just one of the mountains.  It would be a noble act I suppose.  The group also started bearing a name which is RUNHikers; a group of people who have the same level of passion in running and climbing.

The Cast:

Cindy (The Drunken Lily)
Cindy (The Drunken Lily)
Pat (vVinceth)
Pat (vVinceth)
Gab (Dirty Sanchez)
Gab (Dirty Sanchez)

Argonaut: Pabida... In his Survivor Tshirt
Argonaut: Pabida… In Survivor Tshirt

It was rainy in the morning, yet God still gave us a nice weather when we started the climb.  Difficulties were always present due to the load that we carry and really got tough as we proceed.  Especially my load for I have brought an airbed with me. The reason of that insane act was because I have dreamt of what it would be like climbing up the mountain and sleeping at a comfort like as if you were at home. Had brought a blanket too and used my clothes as a pillow making myself as the vainest climber for that climb.

Campsite 1: Taken by Pepsi
Campsite 1: Taken by Pepsi

Of course, I would definitely have to pay the price of that comfort that I crave, and that’s, yeah! me carrying like a boulder  at my back for it waaaaas…. damn…. Heavy…. (Ugh! sigh…). Well, ummmh…. still happy with the outcome though!

Pepsi and Carina
Pepsi and Carina

Who said you can never had feisty meal outdoors? Well, what we had for snack in the campsite was my carbonara (thanks for those who help me out).  Dinner was Chicken Teriyaki (made by Cindy) and Pork Sinigang (By Gab). We just had a bit of difficulty in getting water from the water source because it was a little bit far from the campsite.

it still worth the effort though because of the dinner that made us all full.

The Social was also eventful. With a bunch of crazy people with me, it would be stupid not to have a great time. There were chips, and gin roaming around as we had our onversation.  Had again a couple of picture taking and even had a little bit of tutorial with Cindy in photography.There will also be a lot of thoughts in running and end up our conversation with it.

The Headlamp: My Composition
The Headlamp: My Composition

It was almost a perfect night having the air bed, the blanket and the pillow; except that there were mosquitoes on the loose that made my sleep a bit shallow. Too bad I forgot to bring a mosquito repellant lotion, yet crying over spilled milk would do me good,

So I at least tried to have a good night sleep.

It was another great morning to start with. Poj, Carina, Cele, Pepsi Dhenz and me decided to start our assault to the peak at 5Am while others decided to stay to prepare for breakfast.  It took us an hour to arrive at the summit.  It was foggy. We have tried waiting for an hour and praying to have a clear view of the summit; however, it was not granted to us.  It was funny that all of us forgot the thought of bringing a flag.

The Ladybug
The Ladybug

So we just had again a couple of picture taking with our freedom climb shirts and a little bit of the view. Tried also doing macro shots with the insects that were trying to cling to us and sang Pilipinas kong Mahal as we go down and a couple of songs too… (LOL)

We also met a more mountaineers going down and inviting us to go up once again for the flag raising; however, we already declined due to our time constraints.  Upon arriving at the campsite, we immediately had breakfast and started to break camp after.  Had our final picture taking and went down.

Our purpose in going up to the summit might have been defeated, for we were not able to had a clear view of the summit and did not even raise a flag; but we could always go back and fulfill what we had missed and once again, to bop to the top!


Enjoy the pictures!

Pepsi Poj and Carina while preparing stuff
Pepsi Poj and Carina while preparing stuff


A little bit naked part of the mountain
A little bit naked part of the mountain


Wonder who's on the left side sleeping? LOL!
Wonder who's on the left side sleeping? LOL!


Pepsi, the bandit freedom climber... LOL
Pepsi, the bandit freedom climber... LOL

Complete Cast!
Complete Cast!











More Pictures at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/argonautpicodeloro/