Monday, June 13, 2011

Makiling Traverse Adventure Climb

There was an invite on a Makiling Traverse Climb, popularly known as MakTrav to mountaineers, and it had about 20 plus people confirming to attend the event. The number of attendees grew as the days passed and finally I was convinced to join them so I invited a friend and we both agreed to join the group in this unique adventure.

Mt. Makiling is a famous mountain located at some parts of Laguna and Batangas. Legend has it that it is guarded by the Forest Nymph Maria Makiling. The shape of the mountain itself resembles her in a lying position. I believed that as a child looking closely at the mountain and identifying her features as we pass by.

Mt. Makiling is also the home of UPLB, my Alma Mater. I dreamed of this climb since I was a student but I was not given a chance since climbing it before requires camping and I can only do a day hike then.

We met at Alabang at 4:30 in the morning catching the bus passing through Sto. Tomas public market. It was our second meeting place to join those who are from Quezon City. Here, we had our last minute preparation before we rented a tricycle for P50 (4 person in a trike) that will take us to the barangay hall to register (P20). This is the start of the trail and we are all prepared to conquer Makiling that day.

After we registered, our adventure began. We walked going to the start of the steep ascend. We divided into two groups. We get to be in the 2nd group. Before we started the trek, we offered a prayer for the safety of all the mountaineers. After that, our climb began. We had an assault right away. It was a difficult climb but since the pacing was good, I was able to catch up. I learned that we used the short cut for this explaining the steep ascend. I was glad I survived it without slipping on the rocks.

Our trek continued until we reached the trail marked with red, yellow and blue ribbons. This means, we are already on the correct path going up. We were following either the red one or the yellow one since previous climbers placed it for others to follow. It was a better trail after a few hundred feet and the thick shade of the trees surrounds it. The sun wasn't that of a burden since we seldom feel its head on our skin. It was just a bit humid and we were constantly looking for the breeze to blow on our direction to refresh ourselves.

After several hours of hiking, steep ascend, taking 5 minute breaks and hiking again, we all got to a point were the view of Batangas is seen. It is what we called the Reynang Bato (because from afar is the Haring Bato which is much bigger than that spot). We all took picture of the pretty scenery before continuing with the trek.

View from up high

still to conquer

Trees that looks like broccoli from above

Pretty scenery

After that short pictorial break, we continued our hike. This time, the trail was more challenging. We had steeper terrains and we need to hold on the trees on the trail to help us climb up. It was yet another tiring hike going to the camp site where we decided to take our lunch.

The campsite was infested by Limatik (Blood Leeches), a small, blood sucking nuisance which we all feared on this adventure. There have been stories about it going to the eyeballs and staying there until they are satisfied. We developed a phobia on this creatures on this day and every time we go to mossy places, we cover ourselves so that they won't go to our skins. We are all armed with arm sleeves and we all covered from head to toe throughout the trail but we were still not safe from them since they crawl up our shirts looking for flesh to suck on.

After our lunch which was cut short because of the Limatik, we continued our trek up. We reached what they called Haring Bato and at this point, the trail is much much more difficult. This is the rope segment part of the trail.
I think this is Haring Bato

Another breath taking scenery

Last of the few scenery we saw
From the Haring Bato, we will climb a rock where only ropes are the only way to lift yourself up. It was very difficult to think of where to place your foot so that you will not slip from it. I thought that this segment was short but after some time of climbing up almost 90 degrees slopes, I realized that this is just the start of all the hardships of this climb. After finishing one wall, we are back to the ascending slopes only to find ourselves in yet another rope segment section. At this point, there is no turning back and the only way is to move forward.

After our near slips and adrenalin rush as we look down and fear of heights enveloped us, we are rewarded with a breath taking view of the land below. It was another pretty scene and it was the last of it. The next leg is all forest and scary cliffs on the side of the trail.

We soon found ourselves at the Peak 3 (however, they told us that it was Peak 2). It was a small flat area on top surrounded with cogon grass. It has a small view of the land below but all I was thinking is taking a rest before resuming with the next leg of the trail.
Pitcher Plants found on top

Continuing our ascend
After a few minutes of rest, we resumed to the trail. This time, it was like we're in a big obstacle course. They call it the wild boar trail. We get to dodge, climb and do all sorts of body movements just to move from one tree obstacle to another. There are still those steep slopes and it was more difficult on this area. We get to do this for another hour until we finally reach Peak 2.

Limatik sucked my blood, and then he died
Peak 2 means we're already in Los BaƱos and I am more than happy to have reached it. This is where I discovered that I was attacked by a Limantik but he died on my foot. It was scary to see yourself bleeding without you feeling or knowing why. However it was okay since I didn't feel anything. it was our last stop for this journey and our last leg was to go down the UPLB trail.

The UPLB trail also has its challenges on the way. Good thing the trail is more established as there are ropes to hold on and some parts have some ladders for us to climb down on. We had a few slips but it was okay since it was easier going down than going up.

We were walking at around Station 15 when the rain poured on us. The trail was extra slippery and we were hurrying trying to beat the sunset. We were all drenched in sweat and rain water as we reached a small river where you can get fresh water. Bad thing about it, though, is that the Limatiks attacked us as we stopped. It was scary since two of us had them on the face. We quickly grabbed some alcohol to kill them and after that, we all hurried back down. However, that wasn't the last attack by them. As we reached Agila Base, there is another attack. good thing, it was the start of the road trail going down. we hurried and hurried until it was already dark and we reached a small store where we stopped and waited for the others.

At this point, it was already dark and it was still a 1.5 hour descend to the jump off point of the UPLB trail. We decided to ride the habal-habal for us to get down. They are charging us P100 per person, however, we get to ask them to lower the price to P70 each.

We reached the College of Forestry in UPLB in about 30 minutes, we washed up and went down the campus for a quick dinner at Grove. We all went home afterward, riding a Calamba Crossing bound jeepney.

It was a tiring climb but it was all worth it. We met a lot of new friends and the experience we had was all worth the body pain we anticipated we'll have the next day. I realized that since the first time I climbed a few months back, I gained enough strength to endure a major climb. I am glad I get to finish this and I am much confident to climb other mountains as well.

Climbing Mt. Makiling and doing it traverse makes me feel a complete UPLB-ian and I am proud of it! However, I promised myself to stay away from traverse and Limatik infested terrains . I'll just stick to some easy climb as of the moment.

Group 2 at Peak 2.. our last group picture

Sto. Tomas, Batangas and Los Banos, Laguna
Entry points: Sitio Palanggana, Brgy. San Bartolome; Sitio Sipit, Brgy. San Miguel
Exit point: UP College of Forestry, Los Banos, Laguna
LLA: 14.13°N 121.20°E, 1090 MASL (Peak 2)
Hours to Peak 2 / days required: 1-2 days / 7-8 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 3 with roped segments
Features: Roped segments, rocky face, limatik, rattan, tropical rainforest

0430 Take Lucena or any Maharlika-bound bus
0600 Drop off at Jolibee Sto. Tomas; Breakfast
0630 Head to Brgy. San Bartolome by tricycle
0700 Registration; final preparations
0730 Start trek
0830 ETA Bahay Kubo
1030 ETA Melkas Ridge campsite
1100 ETA Melkas Ridge (Haring Bato)
1130 Lunch at Peak 3 (1020 MASL)
1200 Proceed with traverse via Wild Boar trail
1330 ETA Peak 2 (1090 MASL)
1400 Start descent
1630 ETA Nursery
1730 ETA College of Forestry; take jeep to Los Banos proper
1800 Lunch at Grove
1900 Take bus back to Manila
2100 ETA Manila

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