First of all, dear readers, we hope you are safe. The coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic has put our trips and adventures on hold until this crisis passes. Fortunately, we’re fine and our employers were kind enough to let us work at home. As such, we got quite busy even if our city is under quarantine. Anyway, let us radiate some positive vibes by telling you the final tale of our Tres Marias adventure.
Based on our itinerary for the entire 5-day adventure, our third and final day in Tres Marias was a little more time-constrained. Meaning, we had to adhere strictly to our schedule so we’ll still have time to camp in Sambawan Island. As such, we woke up at 3 AM so we could start climbing early. Our aim was to reach the summit by 6 AM.
Because we slept very early the day before—we actually slept at around 7 PM—we woke up refreshed and ready to go.
Climbing a mountain in the darkness with only the illumination of our headlamps guiding our way was a challenging undertaking. The moist, slippery trail was marked by twisted roots that made walking tricky. We need to be in visual contact with each other else we’ll be lost in the darkness. We had to be careful as well because, in some parts, there were sinkholes and cliffs on either side of the trail.
As we neared the summit, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped as dawn approached.
One of our rare couple photos before proceeding to the summit. Have you ever noticed that even if Team Sweetie is a couple, we rarely have couple photos? Well, we’re taking advantage of this. Hehehehe! Just check out the lush jungle all around us.
But we made it despite the wet, cold climb! At 5:45 AM, and soaked to the bone, the team set foot at the Peak 3 of Tres Marias. We weren’t able to record the height here, but we figured that like the two other peaks, it’s more than 1,000 MASL.
A pale, cloud-covered sun greeted us as we set foot on the summit. Even if the cold morning clouds obscured the view below, a beautiful sense of wonder overwhelmed each one of us. Nature is a great healer and energizer.
As the early sun’s light illuminated the land, we could see our surroundings clearly. Heavy layers of moss grow on ancient trees. Under that carpet of green thrives an incredible micro-ecosystem that adds life to the forest.
We also saw lots of pitcher plants in the area. Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants, devouring small insects, worms, and rodents to supplement their diet. Each species of pitcher plant has its own way of “catching” prey.
It was time to go back to the camp and prepare the next phase of this adventure. As we went down, the morning light became bright enough that we could clearly see the trail where we walked through just a few hours ago.
It’s such a discovery; we didn’t know that we went through areas with a tight fit!
Halfway down, we spotted a clearing where we saw the two peaks we climbed two days ago. Moderately strong winds blow the morning clouds across the slopes, flowing like an upside-down river. Looking at those two distant peaks, it’s just incredible to think that we climbed those in two days! And whenever we look back at views like this, we feel satisfied and accomplished in our own small way.
For sure, at this altitude, Peak 3 has its own cloud cover. And we walked right into it! It’s like entering a fairy world!
It took us an hour to descend down the peak (it almost always takes less time to descend than to ascend) back to the camp. We ate our breakfast hurriedly, broke camp, and packed everything up, ensuring that we did not leave anything.
Deuter die-hards! Hehehe! We just love our dependable, high-quality, and sustainable Deuter backpacks. They are our homes in the wild.
We walked for more than an hour downhill through light woods. In this world of green, it is easy to lose our sense of direction. All we know was that we were heading towards Sampao River. And we knew we were heading in the right direction as the distant sound of a river became louder.
Finally, we reached the starting point of the Sampao River, which curiously looks like a large valley of shrubbery. But under the carpet of green, it’s difficult to believe that this is a massive water source.
Canyoning in Biliran
And we made it at the starting point of our next adventure down the mountain—canyoning! A new set of porters and our guide were already waiting for us there. They brought ropes, carabiners, and other equipment needed for our canyoning adventure.
First-timers John, Junji, and Baba Ras were given a thorough briefing on how to use the equipment properly.
All set? Let’s go canyoning! We won’t go into a lot of detail here because we have already featured Canyoning in Biliran. Please check Part 1 and Part 2 of our Canyoning in Biliran adventures last 2016! This adventure is really awesome, and it’s one of the best we ever experienced.
Rappeling down the high cliffs really pumped up our adrenaline. The rock faces were quite slippery with moss.
The beauty of Sampao River is highlighted by a series of waterfalls and rapids that are powered by clear, cool cascading water.
Midway through the river at the bottom of the 60-foot Nomad Falls, we ate our lunch; a team that was carrying our delicious food waiting for us there. Everyone enjoyed freshly stewed vegetables and grilled chicken, prepared by Raine, Joni’s wife, at our home base.
You can’t help but admire the coordination between Trexplore and the local guides, porters, drivers, housewives, etc. Joni made the arrangement in such a way that he gives these people extra income.
A short rest after lunch, we were back on the river. You can walk along the riverbanks if you want. But Sweetie and I decided to float downstream where we can. The wet suit we were wearing can become hot and uncomfortable when out of the water. While floating down, however, the water cools and refreshes our skin.
Recolletos Falls is the second to the last waterfall that we have to cross. The nice thing about it? You can be a daredevil and jump off the top. Or you can just climb down.
The final waterfall, of course, is the 150-foot Ulan-ulan Falls. It is a favorite hangout of the locals, and rightfully so. The power of the waterfalls creates a mist at the bottom, resembling that of light rain, thus its namesake. This is the climax of our 3-day adventure, and everyone was super excited to conclude it with a bang!
And what better way to finish the adventure than to rappel on one of the tallest waterfalls in the Philippines! The feeling is even better when you’re doing it under a part of the waterfall itself.
At 3 PM, our grand Tres Marias adventure was done with flying colors. All we need now is to enjoy the ride back home….and get ready for another adventure!
Check out this short video, which contains clips of our entire adventure! Take note that the video is non-linear and not in sequence.
As we rode back to our home base, we could see the mighty Tres Marias, the three magnificent peaks that we traversed a few days ago. This climb was definitely a grand adventure, but it’s just another piece of the magnificent pieces in Biliran’s treasure chest of natural wonders.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to our indispensable Mamanwa guide and porters, Joni, and his team at Trexplore the Adventures. They ensure that your caving, canyoning, trekking, and backpacking adventures in Biliran and Samar are safe and memorable.
Thank you too to our team-mates John, Junji, Daryl, and Baba Ras for making this adventure really fun!
(Cover photo credit: Junji Bacon of Wandering Feet PH)
A personal note on the Coronavirus crisis: we never thought that we would experience a pandemic in our lifetime. The grim statistics and the uncertainty of the situation adds to the fear and anxiety. But amidst all this, let’s stay positive and vibrant. Stay home and obey the quarantine/lockdown. Soon, this will be all over, and we all can go back to exploring the world.
For those who are interested in experiencing adventures in Biliran, Leyte, and Samar, get in touch with Joni Abesamis of Trexplore the Adventures using the following details:
- Contact Person: Joni Abesamis Bonifacio
- Phone Number: (055) 543-8550
- Cellphone number: 0919-294-3865 / 0927-675-0062
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.trexplore.ph