I like to think of myself as an extremely adventurous person–with a brave heart, never-say-die attitude and of course, unrelenting nerves. Last Sunday’s was a trip planned within a week after I got together with Kuya Renan, Kuya Jheerick and Mica for a day of Badminton. I’ve always wanted to hike up a mountain and sweat my life away so this has to be one of my most memorable 2012 trips–so far. It’s not everyday that I get to conquer a mountain so let me bombard your screens with lots of stories and photos!
I didn’t pack for the day hike until the night before. I’m usually an excited traveler, planning what to bring days ahead, but this trip stressed me out as I haven’t been on a hiking trip ever. Good thing Kuya Jheerick enumerated the things we had to bring (which you should also pack as well if you’re going on your first hiking trip too):
- One backpack (pack everything, no hand-carry)
- At least 2L of water, depends on how much you have to to keep dehydrated
- Packed lunch
- Snacks for the trek
- Emergency flashlights, rain gear
- First aid kit, personal meds
- Extra clothing
We met up and had breakfast at Jollibee in Tagaytay. I’m not a big breakfast person but I had to load up. We left Tagaytay at around 8:30 and arrived at the jump-off point, Evercrest in less than an hour. You gotta love the traffic-free Tagaytay on Sundays.
We parked near the church, though we heard that you can park closer to the foot of mountain for 100 pesos. We really wanted the complete experience so we decided to park as far away as possible. 😀
Barely an hour into our “hike,” we already stopped to buy ice candies. It was an interesting banana ice candy, which we first thought would be icky and disgusting but it was surprisingly sweet. Kinda like mais con yielo.
It was a scorching hot day too, which left me pleased that I chose to wear a pair of leggings instead of shorts, a long-sleeved top; and brought a cap, an extra hanky to cover up my nape, and another towel to slip on my back. Yes, I was extra paranoid about getting burned by the sun. 😀
The first hour wasn’t too bad. Kuya Jheerick and Ate Auj took the lead most of the time ’cause we were too busy foolin’ around behind them. See the peak on the upper left side of this photo? That’s where we’re headed. It was a looooong walk. 😀
Since we were still at the foot of Mt. Batulao, the hike was relatively easy. We just had to walk through tall grasslands and traverse dry (and slippery ’cause of the loose dirt) roads.
If you take the old trail to the summit, this’ll be the first “base camp” you’ll encounter. Someone will approach you/your group as soon as you get here and ask you to write down your names in this log book and pay 20 pesos per person. You also have to have a name for your group. Ours was HF, I think. 😀
I noticed that hikers you meet along the way are super nice and friendly. They will always greet you with a Magandang Umaga, Magandang Hapon or Ingat Kayo. And yes, they really say that in Filipino.
After we registered our names and paid the appropriate fees, we ascended the mountain again and stopped for lunch. I had a tocino and rice lunch, but surprisingly, I still wasn’t able to finish it all. I was really hungry, for sure, but I guess all the water I drank took up all the space in my tummy.
Lunch was the only time throughout the entire trek that we were able to sit down and enjoy the awesome view without hearing our heavy breaths. 😀 All throughout lunch, we couldn’t stop talking about how tough the trek was, how far we still were from the summit, and how bad we wanted to shove ice cubes down our throats. 😀
We were so pumped after lunch! We were warned that the trail would be tougher so my adrenaline was on high-speed the entire time. Here we are, slowly making our way to the peak.
Walking uphill nonstop is so painful. It’s like running on the treadmill with a 90-degree incline. 😀 But I seriously enjoyed this part of the trek. I loved the moderate difficulty this section offered. It served as a good practice for what was waiting for us. 😛
This is the last hurdle we had to conquer before we reached the peak, and it was surprisingly my favorite part! I found it easier to cling on to the rocks and let my foot blindly search for a steady rock than hike through a flat terrain with lots of dirt. I blame my trainers for that, which wasn’t the right pair of shoes to wear that day. I was skidding, sliding and slipping all over the place!
Yay! We made it to the summit alive and well! And there’s Mama Mary, blessing us too! This is the edge of the peak. Behind us is death. And the beautiful view. 😛
We forgot about the tiring trek after seeing this amazing view. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to this view every day?
There’s also a mini store there! Too bad they only had Mountain Dew.
Anyway being a newbie hiker, I was sort of expecting the summit to be really narrow and dangerous. It was however, surprisingly “roomy” on top. See, we even got to do jump shots. We were however, very careful and cautious.
It was severely hot that one of us just couldn’t take it. 😀
We took our time here, staying for about 30 to 45 minutes. We needed to recharge because we wanted to descend the mountain in record time. Well, we were wishing to descend as soon as possible because Mica wanted to go to church.
Here we are, descending the mountain. I have to admit that I was deathly terrified of this part. It didn’t help that dirt was blowing everywhere. But thankfully, I got through this part. I had to slide my way down ’cause standing up was pretty much impossible for me then.
We had to thank Kuya Jheerick for making sure we all descend Mt. Batulao safely. He was there guiding us, catching us as we slipped and slid our way down the mountain. (We love you, Kuya! :D)
Such an amazing view! It was more relaxing descending the mountain this way. I wish we could go hiking every week. I think I lost enough weight to last two days’ worth of workout. 😀
By the way, we got to talk to some of the locals and asked about the woman who died early this year. According to them, it was human error.
Here we are back at the parking lot! Wheew. I’m so sorry, Nike trainers for torturing you. And sorry, dear feet. I promise to take you to the spa.
It was an amazing first time, which prompted everyone to start planning for our next hiking trip. We’re looking at a Mt. Pulag hike this May, since Mica will be flying back to New York in June. Ooh I can’t wait to see the sea of clouds!
While I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to tackle a mountain by myself or without an expert hiker, I did learn a lot out of this trip. For one, you just have to trust yourself. I myself was surprised that I was capable of such feat. I thought I’d give up halfway but in times like these, you just get this amazing burst of energy and strength that’s almost instinctual. It also helps to be with people who watches your back all the time.
Besides that, you’ll gain a new-found respect for nature–if you haven’t before. As much as we’d like to change the trail, all we could do is adapt with the hurdles nature threw our way. When you’re in such a serene place like this, you’ll feel significantly irrelevant to nature’s might. Oh yes, you will.
They say Mt. Batulao doesn’t even count as a “beginner” level hike. Err, if that’s the case then I seriously need to prepare (read: work out, gain muscles, etc) for Mt. Pulag.