“So we have 2 choices: do you want to go to the beach today, or hike to a waterfall?”
“Umm, I think hiking to a waterfall sounds good.”
“Okay, great. Apparently people have died on this hike, so it’s gotta be pretty cool.”
And off we went to Casaroro Falls outside of the tiny town of Valencia, Philippines. We climbed the winding roads up the mountain until the pavement stopped. We left the car on the side of the road and continued the climb on foot which ended up being about 100 meters to the trailhead. At the trailhead there was a woman under a shelter with a large book. She asked for 10 PHP per person and had us sign in to the log book. She was very adamant about Carter having his own entry and we were to specify his age and gender. We also had to pay for him, which caught us off guard, since we’re used to everything being free for ages 2 and under.
I guess they’ve become very particular about keeping record of everyone who’s attempted the hike to make sure they account for them as they finish. After walking 10 feet onto the trail, I was very glad they kept a log and had us sign in.
The first 10-15 minutes of the hike was stairs. Tall, cement, slippery stairs. Luckily there was a handrail and I quickly got over my fear of grabbing a spider, caterpillar, worm, ant, etc and clung to it. We thought the cement stairs were pretty bad, but then we came to metal stairs that were even taller than the cement ones. And then, halfway down these stairs, the handrail just disappears. We laughed at how crazy this hike was the entire time we climbed down, mostly to keep me in good spirits since I was actually pretty scared considering I had Carter on my back.
We finally made it down to the river and thought the waterfall would be pretty close, only to find that our trail came to an abrupt stop, and then picked up again 50 meters away. Our option was to climb down off the trail, over the large rocks, and through the water. We thought that the trail was going to be fine on the other side, but we kept coming to broken pieces of it. I was pretty hesitant to keep going because all I could think about was how we’d have to climb all the stairs to get back.
At a point when I almost called it quits and requested that we start heading home, a group of men in plastic flip flops met up with us. They were cheery and all wished us good morning and continued climbing over rocks and through the water like they did this every day. In plastic flip flops. I was in Chacos, and very, very glad that I was, and Scott was in his flip flops getting a kick out of how slippery they were. I was a little embarrassed about how slow we were going after seeing this group, but then I remembered I had a 20+ pound baby on my back and they didn’t. I then decided that I would totally conquer this hike and make it to the waterfall.
Not too long after, we made it. When we first arrived there were 4 or 5 people around, but not 10 minutes later we were surrounded by over 20 people.
Carter was excited to get out of the pack and stretch. He was really excited to touch the water… until he did, and realized it was ice cold! He eventually got used to it and enjoyed kicking his legs in the river.
We crossed the river, found a rock with a good view of the water, and Carter and I refueled on crackers and water while Scott got closer to the falls. There were a few smaller pools closer to the falls where the water was an incredible bluegreen color. Right when he came back to grab the camera, it started to rain heavily so we quickly packed up and started the hike home. Before we made it to the ridiculous stairs, Scott commented that he would like to do this hike again before we leave Dumaguete… I smiled and wondered if he would be so eager after we got to the top.
The stair climb up was more brutal than we realized on the way down—besides each step being about 14 inches tall, now they were slippery and wet! Luckily there was a handrail that made all the difference, and helped keep some of the weight off of my legs. Carter and I powered through the stairs without stopping once! I was heave-and-ho-ing, but Carter kept patting me on the back and jabbering to keep me motivated. The weird thing was that it actually worked!
It was an intense hike to take with a baby on my back, but making it to Casaroro Falls was very rewarding and we look forward to doing it again!