Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Climb of 2012: Mt. Manalmon Epic Weekend

It was the first weekend of 2012 and I was invited to a climb. It was an easy climb and it was set for an overnight camping trip at the foot of the Mt. Manalmon. I got excited since it was six months ago since I last climbed and I am longing to be with nature once again. Also, it was a camping trip! Something I wanted to do for a while.

My mountaineer friends planned an overnight camping trip at Mt. Manalmon even though this mountain has a difficulty for a beginner. You can actually reach the summit in less than 30 minutes. This mountain is located at San Miguel, Bulacan. It is part of the historic Biak na Bato National Park and the place offers a lot of activities that will run your adrenaline to over drive!

To reach the place from Manila, you need to ride a bus going to Cabanatuan and alight at Brgy Kamias at San Miguel Bualcan. From there, you need to ride a trike going to the jumpoff point. The bus costs PHP128 from Pasay to Bulacan while the trike was PHP250. It was a ripoff since one of our companions were there a week before and they charged them PHP200 per trike. Also, they dropped us off at the gate which left us walking upto the river where they should really should drop us off. Be careful when dealing with those trike drivers is all I can advice those who wants to go there.

us enjoying our lunch

sisig and half rice (PHP40)

Before going to the jump off point, we asked the trike to stop on a small canteen along the road since we haven't had lunch yet. We eat there and the food there are pretty good. I had a plate of Sisig and half rice and it tasted good. Nice thing about it too is that it only cost PHP40 for the heavy meal. After we had eaten and freshen up a bit, we got back to our journey to the jump off point.

jump off area

Monkey Bridge

As we reached the place (walking from the front gate, thanks to those trike drivers), they decided to cross the river using the Monkey Bridge. The Monkey Bridge is two thin cables suspended at each end of the rock just above the river. You cross it while keeping your balance and avoiding falling off the water. They preferred to do it while we ride the raft that took our bags across.

After almost all of us went across and me taking photos, we asked for a guide that will take us to the camp site. It costs PHP600 for a guide to be with you for an overnight stay. He led the way to the camp site from the river. We crossed Madlum Cave which is a small cave taht is pitch black inside. We also crossed a small river and from there took a long hike going near Mt. Manalmon.

pitching our tents

the river beside our camp

As we reached the camp site, we chose a less crowded area to pitch the tent. Some of us went up the summit while we took care of our tents. After a while, we followed them up the peak. There are a lot of campers there too and they seem to have a party there. It was a bit crowded, thankfully we camped at the river side.

Going up wasn't that easy but compared to my other climbs, it was a piece of cake. It took us only less than 30 minutes to reach the summit and I only had one break going up. I guess I am fitter than before, thanks to those jogging I had the year before. Maybe I'll continue it since it feels good.

view of the river

sun is setting

sierra madre

another view from the summit

At the top, you will climb a huge rock before reaching the peak. It's view up there was amazing. You can see the Sierra Madre mountain range there and Mt. Arayat. Across is Mt. Gola which can also be reached across the river. It was really a nice view up there. All the sweat you had going up will be gone thanks to the fresh breeze.

There was a legend that our guide told us. They say that the name of the mountain was because of two lovers who would actually get married. At some point they have upset the fairy of the forest and in punishment, she got the groom and placed him in between rocks. The bride trying to rescue her, made a deal with the fairy that she will collect fruit juices but she cheated and added water and the fairy knew this and as punishment, she made the rocks devour the groom, thus the name Manalmon from "nilamon".

Unfortunately, there was no sunset up there when we got up. It was a bit cloudy so the sun was hiding behind the clouds. It was still nice since the view is very good. We went down before the sun set completely and before it was really dark. Good thing we had head lamps and it was convenient for us to see the trail going down.

camping at night

Back at the camp, we prepared for dinner and after a while ate. We washed up and arranged our stuff. After that, we had our socials wherein we bonded pretty well. It was the most fun socials I had. Everyone was hyped up and talking to everyone. It was really nice since most of us just met for the first time. I really enjoyed this camping trip we had.

starry night

our camp is lit with the moonlight

In the morning, all drunk and hung over, we woke up pretty late. We prepared breakfast and broke our camp. We fixed our stuff and some of us went back to the summit while the others took a dip at the river. I just stayed on dry land and chilled. I took photos of those who were jumping from the rocks. I hoped I could do that too (I really need to learn to swim!). We chilled and after some hours, we decided to go back to the jump off point. We trekked back and crossed the river and Madlum Cave once again before we reached it. There we decided to have lunch.

We cooked some remaining food and some bought noodles in the nearby store. It was pretty expensive there but it was okay since it was really far from the town. We ate and went to Bayukbok Cave (another post) after. It was tiring and more exciting there than going up the summit. It was a nice adventure and after it we washed up while some enjoy the river and Monkey Bridge jump. After we all washed up, we decided to go home. We ride the trike which is PHP240 now. As we got back to Brgy Kamias, we decided to have dinner first and then finally riding a bus back to Manila.

It was a fun weekend and everything was fun. Being with those fun people is really nice and I am glad to have climbed with them once again. My first climb for 2012 was epic!

Here is our itinerary for that trip:


Day 1
1000am : Meetup at McDonald's MRT in Pasay
1100am : ETD Manila to San Miguel Bulacan (Five Star Bus)
0200pm : ETA Brgy Kamias San Miguel Bulacan (ride trike to jumpoff point)
0230pm : Late Lunch at Brgy Kamias
0315pm : ETA to Jumpoff Point, register
0330pm : Cross River/Monkey Bridge
0400pm : Trek to camp site
0430pm : Pitch Tent
0500pm : climb summit
0530pm : reach summit. Photo ops, rest
0600pm : descent
0630pm : back to camp site, prepare dinner
0730pm : Dinner time
0830pm : clean up / wash up
0900pm : socials
0100am : lights off (not sure what time :P)

Day 2
0700am : wakeup call
0730am : prepare breakfast
0800am : breakfast
0830am : clean up
0900am : break camp
0930am : swin in river / trek to summit / free time to relax
1130am : back to jumpoff point
1200am : lunch / rest
0130pm : Caving
0300pm : back from caving / wash up / free time / monkey bridge (again)
0530pm : ETD back to Brgy. Kamias
0630pm : ETA Brgy Kamias / Dinner
0730pm : ETD San Miguel Bulacan to Manila
0930pm : ETA Manila - Homebound

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