Monday, November 12, 2012

Two Mountains in One Day (Mt. Maculot and Mt. Makiling)

My friends and I were planning to trek either Mt. Maculot (947 meters) in Cuenca, Batangas or Mt. Makiling (1,147 meters) in Los Banos, Laguna as part of our ecotourism experience.

Mt. Maculot served as the last stronghold of the Japanese Army in Batangas before the end of the WWII. This is usually the practice ground for neophyte mountaineers since it can be trekked for one day.

On the other hand, the climb to Mt. Makiling takes 1-2 days before reaching the summit. 
It is one of the nearest mountains from Manila. It is even included as one of the 32 ecotourism spots in the Philippines.

Part of the adventure was that we were going to document our trek and so we had choose between Mt. Maculot or Mt. Makiling. The problem was I have not yet climbed Mt. Maculot and I had no idea of the trail nor the terrain.

So, how did we solve the dilemma? I climbed both mountains in ONE day!

It was a Sunday, July 15, 2012. I woke up 5:30 am, took a bath, boarded my motorcycle and sped off to Cuenca, Batangas. 

From Tanauan City, it took me 40 minutes before I reached the town of Cuenca at an average speed of 80-90 kms per hour. From Manila, it will take you almost 2 hours before reaching the town (but right now they have the AC-TEX and it's a lot faster). The bus station is in Buendia-Taft and the fare is around P200.00 airconditioned.

I asked bystanders how to climb Mt. Maculot and after several inquiries, somebody told me that I had to go to the Municipal Hall. The climb starts from that spot. Arriving at the spot, I made again the necessary inquiry, and luckily, there were barangay officials posted therein and they were even the one who gave me my guide.

My guide that day was named “Renato” (Contact No. - 09092283306). The fee is P500.00 and the Environmental fee is PhP20.00. There are three places you can go in Mt. Maculot namely – (1) the Rockies, (2) the Summit and (3) Station of the Cross. We decided to go to the Rockies.

Anyway, we proceeded to the jump-off point and it took me almost ten minutes using my motorcycle before reaching the site.

In trekking/mountaineering, the grading system for the type of activity for trekking is easy, moderate and strenuous.

Easy is characterized by 2-4 hours of walking, the trail is gradual, clearly marked and often located in rolling terrain. Very few obstacles are encountered; usually overnight or daily activity only.

One the other hand, moderate is characterized by 4-6 hours of walking per day. The trail is a combination of few steep ascents and rolling terrain.

While strenuous is characterized by 4-8 hours of walking per day. The trail is often steep and obstacles like boulders, thick vegetation, walls and river crossings are often encountered. Water discipline may be necessary.

Mt. Maculot is categorized as “Easy” while Mt. Makiling is “Easy – Moderate.” 

Whatever the category of the mountain is, I was not prepared to trek that day. In fact, I have an terrible hangover (my brothers and I usually have a drinking spree on Saturday night and the previous night's spree was one of those days when I consumed more than I could handle).

Not having trekked for quite some time and carrying an awful hangover, we started our trek.

I was gasping for air! Catching my breath! 

I had to make a lot of stops in my ascent.

The trail featured numerous obstacles from elongated vines, fallen logs, and a steep ascent. I even had to change my shirt because I was perspiring a lot.

The climb was good for two hours but we were able to finish it ahead of time.

Before reaching the top, we passed areas only covered with grass or bare of any vegetation. 

And then, we passed the camping site of the mountaineers.

My guide told me that we had to continue our trek for ten-fifteen minutes and we went to a very steep and difficult cliff. 

The problem I usually encounter when I do trekking or spelunking is the when I use my left hand. I had a shoulder injury way back my teenage days due to a basketball injury. I was afraid that my left shoulder would be dislocated anew at any point in time and as a result I would lose my grip and fall. This is the reason why I never tried bungee jumping, skydiving, plunge or zorb ball. There was this incident in wakeboarding wherein my left shoulder was twice dislocated and I had to be very careful that day not to aggravate my injury.

Anyway, I combined all my might and energy and I was able to hurdle myself upwards and grab the next rock for my ascent and again grab the next rock to reach the top.

I have crossed my Rubicon!

There were plenty of trekkers that day, enjoying their climb, and the scenery as well.

After staying for an hour or more, I decided to descent. The descent was a bit faster than I thought. Gravity now was on my side. 

However, nearing the end of the trail, I suffered mild cramps due to fatigue and my hangover! I rested for a while and after catching my breath. I paid my guide and proceeded to Mt. Makiling.

From Cuenca, Batangas to Mt. Makiling using the Calamba route, it took me one hour and thirty minutes using my motorcycle. I had to make a quick stop in Tanauan to change my shirt and pants. 

Reaching UPLB campus, I went to the Registration Area.

I did not hike! Why should I? I am already exhausted! And how did I do it?

I climbed Mt. Makiling using my motorcycle and surveyed the area.

I even asked how to get the necessary permit from the UPLB Forestry for our videoshoot.

It took me almost thirty minutes before reaching the community area. I looked and found myself a guide for our trekking and birdwatching. 

The guide’s name is Mang Magno (contact number – 09205124050) and went down afterwards. I cruised back to Tanauan, Batangas.

Two mountains in one day, an adventure indeed!

By the way, we chose Mt. Makiling for safety reasons. 

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  1. Hi sir,ngayun ko lang nahanap yung blog nyo po. Tama po kayo maganda din itry yung spelunking,super enjoy kami. Anyway sir kami po yung nakasama sa picture nyo sa mt.maculot. :)

    1. Ahhh good to hear na you tried spelunking =) Hope to see you again... Thanks for the comment

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