April 11, 2013

Mt. Batulao Conquered!

April 9, 2013, Araw ng Kagitingan. I, together with 5 brave souls, Daryll, KR, Juneve, Marco and Ell, went up Mt. Batulao. It was an experience unlike any I've ever had, and here is the tale of our adventurous excursion.

It was mid-morning when I met up with them at Mendez crossing, Tagaytay. They were from Metro Manila while I was from Sta. Rosa Laguna. After the hello's and hi's and how are you's, we rode a jeepney to Evercrest, Nasugbu Batangas. We had high spirits! We were excited about hiking, and were planning to do it as fast as we could so that we'd have time to go to the beach right after. When we arrived at Evercrest, we rode a tricycle to the "school". It was from the "school" that we started our hike.
The brave souls

Up up and away!


The start of the hike was not at all challenging. In fact, it felt like we were just strolling. Somebody even said that it was surprisingly easy! Peak by peak we passed by, the trail getting difficult, but still passable. When we reached the only campsite along the trail, we were sweaty, grimy, and tired, but we were fine.

At the campsite

We still had to climb up to reach the top. We managed to get 2/3 of the way alive, so how hard could the last 1/3 of the trail be? I overheard a mountaineer say that the highest peak was just 5 minutes away. 5 minutes? Well, that's not a very long time, I can do that, or so I thought. So, after hydrating ourselves, resting, and some picture taking, we set off to finish what we started, not knowing what awaited us.

What did we say earlier? That the trail was easy? Boy did our words backfire! Risky would be an understatement to describe our final ascent to the top. It was steep, slippery and scary. We were literally crawling on ridges! It required the contraction of almost all the muscles in our bodies. Dirt covered us everywhere! We did not have time to mind how filthy and sweaty we were because all we could think about was our survival. What stood in between life and death for us was just one wrong move. We did not have time to care about the things our hands touched, because we had to hold on for our dear lives. I got cuts, but it's really better that I had them than becoming a casualty! It was hazardously scary especially for newbie hikers like me!

It did not help that we weren’t briefed about the hike. We were quite packed up with water, food and clothes. I even wore the wrong kind of shoes! Well, I have an excuse for the shoes because I don’t have any other pair brought here in Luzon. I left all my shoes in Davao, and I did not want to buy a new pair just for the hike. I also did not think special shoes were necessary because I was boxed in word web’s definition of the word hike - “a long walk usually for exercise or pleasure”. To my disappointment, the dictionary definition falls short!

At the 2nd to the highest peak was a small shed. Sitting there was a boy who gave up on the climb and was left behind while his companions persevered to the top. I wanted to quit, just as he did, stay under the shed with him and wait for the rest of the group to come back. However, the curiosity of what was up there got the better of me. I did not want to be a quitter, so when the group was about to set out again, I chose to go with them.

I’m not sure how many peaks there were all in all. 9? 10? 11? I lost count as the difficulty of the trail increased. After more than 2 hours of hiking, from the "school", we finally made it to the top! The view up there is 360 degrees of awesomeness. We did not endure the risk and pain of climbing up just to tire ourselves, so we savored the beauty set before us as we should. We ate our lunch and took some pictures. It felt so fulfilling to climb all the way up to approximately 800m above sea level! However, I could not enjoy it purely as there was one question running in my head – how are we going down? I know my companions were also asking themselves the same question, and all of us knew the answer. We had to go down the way we went up, but how to do that, is unimaginable.

View from the top

What goes up must come down.


At 1:30pm, we decided to start our descent. It was a lot more challenging going down than climbing up. I was wishing we could take a zip line down! Or better yet, take a helicopter ride! But of course, those weren't real options. I had to crawl, slide, and hike myself down, but it was very hard to do (blame the shoes!).

Just when I thought I would lose it, an angel came to save me in the person of Grandpa Efren. He is an older mountaineer, who, along with 2 ladies, was also hiking. They saw that I was having a hard time, so they offered to help. I knew I needed all the help I could get, so I allowed them to help me. Grandpa Efren held me as I went through the most difficult trails, while the ladies shared with us their trekking experiences, how their first times went, and tips on how to conquer our fear.

When we reached the campsite, we parted ways. The trails after the campsite were relatively easier, so they were confident that we could make it without their help. Again, we took a rest and hydrated ourselves and went the rest of the way down.

It was around 4:00pm when we arrived at the "school". We were so happy that we were able to conquer Mt. Batulao without losing any member of the group. 6 of us climbed up, and 6 of us got down. We did not have time left to go to the beach, but still, we were happy because we were alive. THANK GOD we made it! THANK GOD He protected us!


Safe at last!

Even in the tricycle ride to the highway, we were still in shock of what we just went through. None of us expected the trail to be LOTR-like. Gandalf with his magic, Hobbits with their big feet and Gollum with his experience, could breeze through the new trail of Mt. Batulao. But, it was just a miracle for us. A word that would accurately describe the experience would be the Filipino term buwis-buhay. I'm not even sure if the English term life-threatening, is a close translation.

When we got back to civilization, we were traumatized, worn out, and very filthy. Layers of soil and sweat had to be washed off first before we could look like humans again. There were bathrooms across the highway so we paid to have our bath.

When we were squeaky clean, we set off to Tagaytay, had our bellies filled with sumptuous bulalo and other Filipino food, and started out on our journey home. It was 8:00pm when we parted ways. I, going home to Sta. Rosa, and them, back to Metro Manila. I thought it was the end of the adventure for me. But, I was wrong. The story's getting long, so I'm going to cut it here, but I'll soon write part II of my adventure: How I got home from Tagaytay to Sta. Rosa.

Wait! I before I end this post, I'll happily tick off item #8 on the 10 Things I want to accomplish before medical school starts.

8. Go somewhere I’ve never been before

For more information about Mt. Batulao Hiking, visit Mt. Batulao (811+)

1 comment:

  1. That's the spirit! were also planning to hike Batulao by first wik of Dec. hoping for a gud weather! Congrats! :D

    -Xtian Hokage


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