Beating the Trails: My Hiking World

Hiking, trekking, climbing, mountaineering or what ever you call it, it only means one thing.. and that is enjoying! You climb not for the world to see you doing it, but so you can see the world in a different way.

There’s this Duncan Ferguson‘s lines which I really adore.. “Climbing is the lazy man’s way to enlightenment. It forces you to pay attention, because if you don’t, you won’t succeed, which is minor — or you may get hurt, which is major. Instead of years of meditation, you have this activity that forces you to relax and monitor your breathing and tread that line between living and dying. When you climb, you always are confronted with the edge. Hey, if it was just like climbing a ladder, we all would have quit a long time ago.” They say there’s always an immeasurable feeling when conquering a peak and that is something which I am about to find.

I began climbing mountains just this year 2014 and so far within three months starting last February, I already conquered three minor but definitely a must-climb mountains in the Philippines namely Mt. Pico de Loro, Mt. Batulao and Mt. Maculot. Let’s first start off with Pico de Loro.

Mt. Pico de Loro

Pico de Loro

Photo credit: Paulyn Canizares

Maragondon, Cavite and Nasugbu, Batangas
Major jump-off: Magnetic Hill, Ternate, Cavite
Minor jump-off: Ternate-Nasugbu Highway, Nasugbu, Batangas
LLA: 14° 12.855 N; 120° 38.785 E; 664 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 2-5 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3

Last February 15, the day after Valentine’s day paved the way for my first ever climb. Originally, I planned it together with my two high school buddies. Unfortunately, the other one could not make it due to her responsibilities as a mother. So we decided to push through the plan even if it was only the two of us left. Luckily, Paulyn (Elizabeth’s cousin) got interested to join the two of us, so we are now three! (Hooray!)

We were not supposed to climb Pico de Loro. The plan was to go to a much easier climb in the historical Mt. Buntis and Nagpatong, since we are all first timers. But all of a sudden along the way, Paulyn suggested to pursue Pico de Loro. I already have the view of it before but I’m afraid to try it since we’re all beginners. But since we all agreed and want to try a lil bit of what we know as “total adventure”, we pursue going there.

After two hours, we reached Ternate and bound a trike going to the DENR jump-off. We proceed trekking by finding the unnoticeable “kawayan” according to one of the people in DENR, haha!

Welcome to Pico de Loro

Welcome to Pico de Loro

Standing at a fallen tree along the way

Standing at a fallen tree along the way

Wow a carabao!

Wow a carabao! 😀

Pau and the dry falls

Pau and the dry falls

We made a side trip at the falls but unfortunately, due to the summer season, there’s almost no water flowing from the top. Much to our dismay, we just spent our lunch there.

After an hour and a half from the waterfalls, we finally reached the summit!

At the Summit

At the Summit!

Peak 2 Upper Beak view

Peak 2 upper beak view

Going up the peak two I guess was the most shaky part. It caused my toes to tremble afterwards due to its steepness and we gripped only on the dry grass. But the view on top was extremely priceless. Unfortunate for me, I wasn’t able to conquer the monolith part.. I doubted myself to go that far that day but I swore before I left Pico, I’ll comeback and conquer it and its traverse!

Behind is the Great Monolith/Parrot's Beak

Behind is the Great Monolith/Parrot’s Beak

Because we arrived late and consumed most of our time in going through the Monolith, we decided to spend the night at the mountain also with the help of very generous mountaineers we met along the climb. They provided us almost all the stuffs we needed such as a camping tent, foods, drinks and everything. We felt like we were princesses of Pico that night and we were so grateful to them. 😀

With My Original Hiking Buddies

With My Original Hiking Buddies Beth and Pau. ❤ Photo credit to Aziel Abary

Indeed, the Pico de Loro climb was really a great way to start more of our hiking dreams. Aside from the fact that everything is unexpected, truly the mountain is so gifted with breath-taking scenes, abundance of plants and animals.

Important tip: Do not use normal rubber shoes, most rocks you’ll encounter here were sharp and you’ll find many broken shoe soles along the way. 🙂

With the generous groups of mountaineers

With the generous groups of mountaineers

Pico Acknowledgement

Elizabeth, Paulyn, Kuya Edmarck, Sir Darwin, Sir Bimbo, Zel, Sir Fer, Sir Sernan, (Apologies, I kinda forgot the name of the guy who always left to stay at our tent, the guy at the right side of the pic above.)

Mt. Batulao (New – Old Trail Traverse)

Mt. Batulao

Nasugbu, Batangas
Jump-off point: Evercrest Golf Course, Nasugbu
LLA: 14.0408 N 120.8011 E 811 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3 with 60-70 degrees assault

My second climb and first traverse hike happened at Mt. Batulao. Unlike Pico de Loro, Batulao is more difficult for me not only in terms of height but also the trails were long and trees were very scarce. It was like we’re climbing up a dessert that time because it’s really, really hot.

We reached the Evercrest(jump-off) around 10AM. Yes, we were late that’s why it’s very hot during our climb. The trails were noticeably rocky and exposed soils are very abundant. But the landscapes were quite remarkable for me. The up and down slopes are a pleasant scenery from a far.

Mt. Batulao's view at the start of the climb

Mt. Batulao’s view at the start of the climb

Upon reaching Peak 1

Upon reaching Peak 1

Our group at the start of the climb

Our group at the start of the climb

Another thing that makes Batulao a great place for climbing is that it has many coconut stores. We all know that coconut water is good for rehydration and it’s something you’ll look for after a tiring trek. Plus, there’s a nearby bulalo resto. 😀

Buko stop-over with Beth and Zel

Buko stop-over with Beth and Zel

After setting up our camp at Peak 6 and waiting for my two team mates to come over, we decided to go to the summit around 3PM.

With my hiking and volleyball buddies

With my hiking and volleyball buddies

Climbing up with the group

Climbing up with the help of our bare, dirty hands

I believe I can touch the sky

I believe I can touch the sky! lol

And we're here at the Summit!

And we’re here at the Summit! 811 meters above sea level!

On my way down to the old trail.. Photo credit to Paulyn Canizares

Rapelling on the way to the old trail.

Socials night!

Socials night!

One of the highlights of our trek in Batulao is the socials gathering that night. When we got back to our tent from the summit around 6PM, we immediately prepared for the dinner. After having dinner, we had a great time arguing each other about our views between the opposite sex. Yeah I enjoy meaningful arguments like those. 😛

Good morning Mt. Batulao!

Good morning Mt. Batulao!

We took the new to old trail traverse around 8AM the next morning and had a Bulalo (beef shank soup) side trip at Tagaytay before going back to Manila.

Important tip: Make sure your footwear does have a strong grip since most trails are exposed and slippery 🙂

Batulao Acknowledgement:

Elizabeth, Paulyn, Decebelle, Fae, Kuya Edmarck, Sir Darwin, Boss Ace, Sir Eugene, Zel, Kuya Derick


Mt. Maculot (Rockies-Summit-Grotto)

Mt. Maculot
Cuenca, Batangas
Major Jumpoff: Mountaineer’s Store, Brgy. 7 “Siete”, Cuenca
Exit point (traverse): Brgy 5 (to Grotto), Cuenca
LLA: 13°55 N; 121°2 E; 706 MASL (Rockies) / 930 MASL (summit)
Days required / Hours to Rockies / summit : 1 day / 1-2 hr / 2-4 hr
Specs: Minor, Difficulty 3/9 (Rockies); 4/9 (Traverse) Trail class 1-3

Mt. Maculot (commonly known as Rockies) was the setting of my third hike and first day hike. Looking back, I was afraid to climb this mountain since there was already reported a casualty. But reading about positive blogs and being one of the most popular mountains made me pursue this climb.

Rockies is the most popular point of Maculot. Although it has three destinations (Rockies, Summit, Grotto) only few hikers go for a traverse hike. If Rockies was the rocky side, the Summit to Grotto trail was the forested side. Aside from that, Rockies will let you experience the breath-taking view of Taal Lake as well as some major points of Batangas.

This was our earliest hike so far. The seven of us bound the JAM liner bus to Cuenca around 4:30AM and arrived at the jump-off at 7:30AM.

Selfie pic from Mt. Maculot jump-off

Selfie pic at Mt. Maculot jump-off

Group pic at one of the stores along the trails.

Group pic at one of the stores along the trails.

With my hiking buddy Elizabeth and volleyball-turned hiking partner Nadyn

With my hiking buddy Elizabeth (left) and volleyball-turned hiking partner Nadyn (right)

Uh oh.. the rocky way

Uh oh.. the rocky way


Rockies baby!

Rockies, baby! Photo credit to Sherwin Catli

Feel the other side of Rockies

Feel the other side of Rockies

Push-up while enjoying the view :-P

Push-up while enjoying the view 😛

Group pic at the Summit

Group pic at the Summit. 930 meters above sea level.

We were a bit frustrated reaching the summit because after a tiring assault going up, the view on top was not scenic as expected. Instead, we just took photos for a moment and continued going down to Grotto.

Enjoying the rapelling

Enjoying the rapelling at one of the difficult parts of traversing Mt. Maculot

Lookup shot at Grotto

Lookup shot upon reaching the Grotto

Special mention to Angela’s courageous slippers who fought the hard trails all the way.. 🙂

Important tip: Watch out for your steps especially when making a traverse from Rockies to Grotto, extreme caution is advised due to the level of assault on that part. 🙂

Maculot Acknowledgement:

Elizabeth, Nadyn, Weweng, Jeric, Angela, Lovely

Hoping to post more of my hiking stories sooner. 😉