Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mt. Maculot - my first Day Hike

by: Jim Bryan Ilarde (guest writer)

view of Mt. Maculot from Cuenca Market (photo by: Krishia Dy Velasco)
I am a newbie mountaineer. I have been climbing mountains for barely 6 months now and this is my first time to day hike. Me and my Daba (my girlfriend) would be doing a day hike instead of camping at the site due to some prior appointments. This would also be the first time (excluding Pico de Loro since it was a dare) that I would be packing light for a climb.  No big bags, gallons of waters, no cook set, no tent, no __(fill in the blanks)__ - you get the picture! 

Mt. Maculot located  at Cuenca, Batangas is a minor climb with a difficulty 2/9 and a trail class of 1-3.  As this is a day hike and we are near the proximity of Batangas; we left Alabang around 1030AM and arrived at the terminal by 11AM. As we asked for directions on how to go to Cuenca, Batangas, we were mobbed by "barkers" persuading us to ride their respective buses.  Due to the ensuing chaos, we tried to rid of the "barkers" by hastily boarding the nearest bus.  As soon as we boarded, we asked the driver if we boarded the right bus to get us to our destination.  Having answered that "Cuenca palengke" is just a jeepney ride away from where they were going to drop us off, we searched for a seat and happily/sleepily enjoyed the ride.  (board the bus with a CALABARZON signboard as it would take SLEX-Star Tollway which is much faster)

fast forward...

At the exit of Star Tollway is where the driver dropped us off.  After asking directions from the conductor on which jeep to ride, we were off to Cuenca. 

Around 20 minutes later, we arrived at Cuenca palengke.  Jump off point is just a tricycle away so we decided to take our lunch. 
our affordable lunch
 After finding a tricycle, we asked the driver if he knows where the jump off point for Mt. Maculot is.  He replied "sa rockies po tayo."  I guess he knew where to go as many mountaineers have camped before us.  He said that we should register first at the baranggay outpost which was on the way to the jump off point, nothing new about it.  When we arrived to register, there was no one at the baranggay outpost to entertain us.  It was 1 pm and my guess is that they had taken extra time for lunch.  After waiting several minutes, we decided to go the jump off point without registering anyway we were just doing a day hike.  (unlike us, please do register as it is for your own safety - we would have if there were people there)

Jump off point is easily recognizable as there is an arrow pointing the way to Mt. Maculot.

me at the jump off point
So here we go, start of trek.  After a few minutes, we arrived at the Air Force marker.  This is where it gets tricky.  There are 3 trails that can be seen, 1 is blocked, the other is slightly inclined up and the other is going down.  Instincts would say to go for the one going up since we are "climbing" a mountain but do pick the one going down as it is the right trail. 

Continue trekking and you would reach a "river" crossing (don't worry as the river had dried up, so do not expect to get wet).  Pass that and there would be a fork on the trail.  A marker with an arrow pointing the trail to go can be seen but due to it being bent, it is hard to decipher which trail to go.  Go right.  These are the things you need to remember as many mountaineers lost their way here and had to retrace their steps for the right trail.  After that, this is where the fun starts - the trail becomes an assault.  It looks tiring but do not fret, there are 3 buko (coconut) stations located in certain parts of the trail that they are selling for 10 Php.  You would know that you have arrived at the camp site as you will see a sari-sari store in the middle of nowhere.

Arriving at the camp site, we found our friends who also climbed Mt. Maculot albeit they would be camping.  At the camp site, you could choose either to go to the summit or to the rockies.  

friends at the campsite from left: Miho, Theen, Ish, my Daba and  Krishia
After asking other mountaineers the way to the summit and the estimated time (2 hours) it would take us and advising that the rockies has a wonderful view than the summit, we went to the rockies instead.  Ask why it is called rockies?  As the name suggest, it has huge rocks all over the place where you can see a wonderful view of Taal volcano and the magnificent Taal lake.  A sight to behold indeed.

me and friends going up to the rockies
photo op at the rockies summit (photo by:  Krishia Dy Velasco) 
me and my Daba cheating death ( photo by: Krishia Dy Velasco)
Just before dusk, we started our descent and the travel back home.

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