Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mt. Balagbag Climb on Good Friday

I told my mom that I will go to Mt. Balagbag on Rodriguez, Rizal on Good Friday. At first she was hesitant but I said that Jesus too went to climb on Skull Mountain on Good Friday and he was even carrying a cross with him up. She didn't argue anymore and I saved up the date to go there on Good Friday.

It was 3am when I woke up. I think it was earlier since my mom would set all the clocks in the house a few minutes advance. I prepared stuff to bring and texted my fried so she can buy me some water for the climb. I got to ride on my brother's friend since he was just going home from our house. It saved me the time and money going t o our meeting place at the boundary of Muntinlupa and San Pedro.

At 4am, I met up with my high school classmate Mhe and with her brother and boyfriend and his mountaineer friends. We all waited for a bus bound to Cubao for our next waiting area. At Cubao, we waited at Jollibee for the other attendees to come. I think it was about an hour or so and I am getting sleepy since I woke up too early for this. I am afraid that it would be too hot to climb up on this day buts still, we waited until they came.

It was almost 7am when we took a bus going to Tunko. We asked the conductor to drop us at Jollibee Tunko. It was almost an hour ride and I got to sleep for a while. When we got to Tunko, we went to the jeepney terminal and asked for the jeepney going to Iloc Iloc. We got into the jeepney and as we got to the place, we can see the mountain from afar. This is our jump-off point.

From there, we started walking an uphill road. It was a combination of cemented and dirt road at first until we reached the Grotto. Since it was a Good Friday, there are a lot of devotees here. They climb their way up to the stations of the cross in the mountain. We didn't go up since there are a lot of people up there. We just followed the long and dirt road path at the other side of the Grotto. The road goes on uphill and since there are vehicles constantly passing by us, we are all covered with dirt and sweat as we got up. i didn't like this trail much because of the vehicles. I am thinking that it was unfair that people use them while we are walking but I cannot blame them for the area is still residential and we pass through houses every now and then.

This road stretches up until you reach the registration area. It is all dirt, heat and sweat until you get to that point. there are a few trees so every time there is a chance to rest under the shades, we do it just to cool down from the scorching heat.

It wasn't all that difficult going up. There are parts that when you look at your sides, you see an amazing view. The view of the nearby mountains and towns. It is so beautiful that even in the middle of the heat of the sun, you would stop and admire it. This will make a bit of the tiredness go away but in a few moments, you'd continue to get up.

Rest at the shades
At the registration area (on which you need to pay P10 per person), it is estimated another hour of climb. Two kids were assigned as our guides. they are familiar in this area and they know all the paths around the area. From that point, as I have counted, we only passed through 3 trees. Each time we pass each, we stop even if it was just a few minutes away. We wait for it to be cloudy to proceed but sometimes it wasn't the case so we push through. From the last tree stop, it was a scorching half an hour to the summit. And we finally made it to what they call the Helipad, the summit.

Lone trees that gave us shade

Our Guides
 From up there, you can see the mountains of Bulacan, Rizal and Quezon. You can also see several water shed which looked like pools from afar. It was relieving as always to reach the top. 

The summit was called Helipad since the area is a flat ground on top of the mountain. It looks like a landing pad if you'd imagine. The area is good to camp in for overnights. Most people do this but since we are only there for a day hike, we only get to stay for a few minutes.

We ate our lunch there and rested. We took pictures before finally deciding to go back down.

Going down, we opted to take a different path. I got nervous upon seeing where we are going, it was a steep descent on rocks and dirt. It was what I feared most because I usually slip on this kind of terrain. I was nervous that I think I slowed down those behind me. However, I am thinking of my safety so I cared less. It is just when I finally get the hang of it that I slowly increase my pace. I enjoyed it, it was fun. They were like running downhill and I, catching up to the best of my abilities and thinking more of my clumsy feet.

We successfully got down with minimal casualties. I got a few blisters but it was tolerable. We got to the area near the so called waterfalls. We wanted to see it so after minutes of resting and replenishing, we went to the falls.

Fees on the Falls
You have to pay P10 entrance fee to go there. I don't know where they use this since the area is full of trash even if they posted warnings and information to people not to litter there. We trekked down to get to the falls and as we got there, we got disappointed. The falls wasn't that magnificent. The water was not clean. It was the worst falls I saw in all my climbing experience. And to think, this is the only paid one I got to. We realized that this wasn't the falls other climbers were raving about. It was the one our kid guide is telling us but will require us more time to go to. Anyway, we just stayed and rested there. we didn't have a choice.

The falls, so disappointing :(
 After a while, we got back up. It was again a steep climb and we rested again as we got to the top. We are already drained that our rest stops got so frequent. Good thing, it was only a few minutes to the jump off point so, we continued our trek down. On the way down, there are vendors selling snacks so we stopped for a while to eat. We reached the jeepney terminal after a few more walks and then we headed back to Tunko. We needed to go back before 6 since it was the jeepney's last trip going back. Thankfully it was just around 5pm at that time.

We decided to just wash up there since there was no water at the terminal area. As we reached Tunko, the public pay CR wasn't that good for us so we went to Jollibee to change clothes and also to wash up our dirty face. We also eat dinner there before finally riding a bus going back to Alabang. I slept on the way home since all my energy is drained.

It was another mountain conquered, another experience gained. I am thankful for the experience. Given a chance, I'd only go back there for the other falls that we didn't get to. If I'd ever climb up the summit again, I hope it is a cloudy day.

Here is our itinerary that day (it wasn't really followed)

Mt. Balagbag
San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal

14°49'34"N 121°10'54"E

04:00H ETD Southdowns, ride bound bus to Cubao
05:00H ETA Cubao, take ride Tungko bound Bus
05:45H ETA Tungko, take jeep ride to San Isidro
06:30H ETA San Isidro Jump-off, start trek
07:30H ETA Grotto, commence explore
08:30H ETA Falls, explore and commence Helipad peak
09:30H ETA Peak,
11:00H Explore or back to falls
12:00H Lunch
15:00H ETA, back to jump off, ride back to Tungko
16:00H ETA Tungko, ride southbound bus

Happy Climbing! :)

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