Mt. Maculot – My Mother Mountain

This is a copy-paste blog entry from my previous blog site – ieatstarsandrainbows – where I used to write my travel notes. Revision has been made.

February 28, 2015

It started with a friend’s invite.

One of my closest friends, Elai, invited me to go on a day hike with her and her friend, Sam. Thinking that it’d be my first day hike, I didn’t hesitate to join.The date was already set before they invited me and Sam made the itinerary days before the hike. So, everything was set. All I had to do was follow everything. I spent the night before the hike at Elai’s house, thinking that it’d be easier for me to travel with them than to meet them at the jump-off. That sleepover was almost considered as a side-trip. I didn’t foresee that Elai’s house was farther than I expected. Take note: I traveled during the evening ‘til midnight. It was thrilling and fun, though.

I woke up with tired eyes and sleepyhead the next morning. Our itinerary stated that we should be on our way by 3 AM. At exactly that time, we just woke up! Basically, we’re behind our schedule.From Cavite City, where Elai lives, we rode a bus going to Buendia. From there, we were supposed to ride a bus going to Lemery, Batangas but unfortunately, the first bus already took off a few minutes before we arrived.The bus staff offered us an alternative route, instructed that we could take the bus (that was going to leave anytime soon) going to Lipa via Tambo Exit, and we could ride the Jeepney going to Lemery.We didn’t have any choice so we immediately hopped in.

From Tambo Exit, we took a jeepney going to Lemery and alighted at Cuenca where our jump-off was. We left Cavite City at 4 AM and arrived at the jump-off around 8 AM. We started hiking at 8 AM. Before going to the jump-off, you have to register and leave one ID from your group. Sam was the one who left her ID. Then, each would have to pay PHP 20 at the registration counter. A guide is required before ascending. Rates differ depending on the path you choose to take and the number of the members per group. In our case, we were three and we chose to traverse the mountain, and that cost us PHP 1000.

Our local guide was Kuya Pepe. There were two other hikers who went first. They thought they could do some “morning walk” up the mountain without a guide. Though they were locals and familiar with the path, the officials still required them to have a tour guide. So, that’s how they ended up joining our group. They were friendly and quick. I forgot their names, though.

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Our team warming up!

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Maculot 3

I believe this is a dried-up river.

Maculot 4

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On the first “pit stop”, we saw this. She sells Buko Juice. You’ll be surprised to see more of this up the mountain.

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Courtesy of seventhousandstars. 🙂

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His name was Jack. He’s the only dog I saw along the whole traverse. He’s so friendly and knowledgeable about modeling. 🙂

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Proof! Haha. He looks at the camera!

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The view from the campsite.

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The view before climbing up the famous Rockies!

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Taken by seventhousandstars. 😉

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Kuya Pepe’s one great shot!

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The Rockies Beauty

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Photos taken by our guide, Kuya Pepe, using seventhousandstars phone.

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This is our guide – Kuya Pepe – who fearlessly takes photos of his guests.

Part II

By around 12 NN, we reached the summit. We stayed for a while to enjoy the pleasure of resting and eating a few snacks. After all that preparation, we started to descend.

Descending was thought to be much easier but we were tired and our knees started to get weak so, we had a rough time. Good thing, Kuya Pepe carried my backpack. Of course, I was hesitant to ask him a favor but I would get injured if I kept carrying that heavy backpack of mine. Besides, Kuya Pepe quite insisted and told me that it was way lighter than the ones he already brought (his own, not from other hikers).

A little story about Kuya Pepe. 

His real name is Christopher and he is a newbie when it comes to guiding hikers. He have climbed a lot of mountains already including Mt. Pulag, I think. He told us that he could hike Mt. Maculot for 30 minutes up to the summit and descend for 15-30 minutes. I don’t know what kind of bones he had but it’s impressive. I believed him because he’s fit and his shoes were made for hiking. He said he took basic photography classes aside from training in Philippine Red Cross. He told us what and what not to eat in the mountain, the importance of helping one another and other sorts. We forgot to ask why the mountain was named “Maculot”, though.

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Flora along the trail

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As we descended, there were paths that required rappelling. This was taken at the first path which was less steep.

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I learned rappelling from my P.E. class back in college. So, I found this activity fun and thrilling! After several years, I finally got to use what I learned from school! Yay!

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While Sam and Elai were rappelling down, I waited at the top and asked Kuya Pepe to take a photo of me. Hehe.

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Then, he took a photo of me while really doing the thing. Lol.

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This was the path where we needed to crawl really down low.

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That mutual feeling of exhaustion. We decided to stop for a while at the edge of the mountain!

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Passed by the Grotto before finally reaching the finish line! Photo courtesy of seventhousandstars.

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Smiling through the pain. *Physical pain*

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Looking back on what we just hiked. What a satisfying feeling!

 

After 8 hours, we finally got back to the jump-off, me with sore thighs, Elai with emotionless face and Sam with torn shoes. We took a tricycle going back to the jump-off. After resting, we took a bath. Yes, there were restrooms you can use to take a bath for PHP10.

We’re supposed to head to the nearest “Bulalo” carinderia afterwards but we failed to find one. So, we ended up eating Lomi and Chami, still local delicacies. We headed back home by riding a bus going to Buendia. We were lucky to spot one while waiting outside the eatery. I arrived home safely and with complete and tired body parts.

Budget: PHP1000/head

Fare

Buendia to Tambo Exit: P126

Tambo Exit to Cuenca: P22

Tric from Shell Gas Station to Jump-Off: P20

Tric going to Jump-Off: P35

Jump-Off to Highway: P20

Cuenca to Banay-Banay: P15

Bus going to Buendia: P126

Registration: P20/head

Guide: P1000/group of 5; extra charge for an excess member.

Yes, we took a lot of detour but it was still cheap. I’ve traveled and hiked on a shoestring budget!

‘Til the next adventure! 😉

 

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#MissingTheMountains

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Photo taken by Gine Severano

Okay… If there’s one thing I am feeling right now, that’d be: I’m missing the mountains badly.

I have taken a break on hiking since the last few days of February when my friend Gine and I spent the not-so-weekend in the Mountain Province (here in the Philippines), in Maligcong, Bontoc to be specific. Since that is my recent hike, I might make a post about it.

I miss the adrenaline rush and the sense of freedom hiking gives me. The vulnerability and strength I feel as I take every step towards the summit.

I just miss the outdoors – the raw smell of grass and dung, the breeze of fair weather days as well as the humidity the scorching sun gives off at noon time, the friendly faces of people I come across with and those dull eyes from the snob ones, the sound of the swaying trees as if they are dancing with the wind and the animals that sing along, the sweat that arises from my skin as my heart pumps so fast and my lungs strives hard for oxygen, the afterglow I get from all the strenuous activity which is fun and relaxing at the same time – all these, I simply miss.

Now, I quite feel heavy as I can barely run from end-to-end. And yes, I am sick mainly because I lack sleep and get more stressed than ever.

I need a sense of release from all what’s happening though I’m feeling positive every passing day.

I need a break, I suppose, but not this kind of break – not a real sick leave. I want to go somewhere. I want to feel the Earth and set my mind straight. I want to meditate. I want to go to the mountains again.

The mountains I call home.

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