My friend K also invited me to their Batulao climb last January 9 (Sunday) but he texted me January 8th while I was already in Calapan. I couldn't actually go home Saturday night from an out-of-town trip and leave again the following morning for a mountain climb. Yea, pwede, but my Nanay would fume mad and Princess would feel depressed two days in a row and that's bad.
Then some of the MSOC applicants invited me for a MakTrav the following Sunday, January 16th, and I immediately said yes. It would be my first major climb ever.
K didn't join the team so I went to the Jam Transit station in Buendia alone at 3 AM. It was even baha in Pasay Rotonda because Manila Water was working in the area. Most of the team members were already there when I arrived.
We left for Sto. Tomas at 4 AM via an air-conditioned Jam Transit. The trip cost P90.00 because we were all charged student fare. Majority of us were students, anyway.
It was a pleasant team. I already met Sir Maldz and three of the applicants during the Pundaquit-Anawangin trip so I didn't feel like an outcast anymore. Not that they made me feel like an outcast the first time, it's just that it's easier to travel with people you already know.
The kids (as I call the applicants) ate their packed breakfast even before the bus left the station. I didn't eat. It's hard for me to eat that early in the morning. I slept through the trip instead.
the Maktrav team before leaving Sto. Tomas town (clockwise from left) me, Prince, Sir Maldz, Sir Jury, Sir Aim, Troy, Khollin, Rain, and Akil
We were at Sto. Tomas after an hour and hired a tricycle to take us to the jump-off in San Bartolome. The air was so cold that morning you could hear the wind howling and the trees were swaying like mad.
After praying (which was led by Troy), we left the registration area at exactly 6 AM. It was still dark but not much that we would need headlamps. But OC as I am, I wore the headlamp around my neck just in case.
With an elevation of 1,090+ MASL and a difficulty of 6 out of 9, MakTrav is classified as a major climb. And before this, the hardest mountain I climbed was only Pico de Loro with the the bird's beak going almost 90 degrees.
Good thing I expected the worst because the trail, though moderately steep at first, became difficult midway up. The wind became stronger and it made the passage across the cogon area very difficult. The sharp blades of the tall grass were slapping at our skin.
We arrived at the Melkas campsite at about 10:30 am and decided to have an early lunch. It started to become so cold with the wind bringing in the fog. It was there where I first set eyes on limatiks. These blood-sucking creatures are mean. You won't really feel they're sucking on your skin unless you see them. Too bad none of us were able to take pictures of the limatiks. But here's a vid of the Melkas campsite.
Passing through the Melkas Ridge was a little nerve-wracking. Prince, one of the applicants who says he's afraid of heights, almost crawled at the ridge.
Troy, Khollin, Prince, me, and Sir Aim
We arrived at Peak 1 at exactly 11:54 AM. Sir Maldz, being the leader, arrived a few minutes ahead of us, while Rain, Prince, Khollin, and I were the next to arrive. Troy and Akil were at the tail with Sir Jury and Sir Aim (who called his girlfriend that's why they stopped).
Sir Maldz, Rain, me, and Prince at Peak 1
Aside from limatiks, trapper plants can also be found in Mt. Makiling.
After Peak 1, the trail becomes more complicated. We found ourselves either clinging on vines and ropes or sliding on mud. The mud was very evident on my feet and on the Lagalag trekking pants that I have only used for the second time (the first being Calapan).
The temperature became lower as we headed for the summit. And since the kids didn't know it was that cold in Mt. Makiling, they didn't bring jackets aside from Khollin. I have to tell you, though, that my thick Bench fleece wasn't enough for the cold. I should've brought with me a windbreaker.
And since the kids had no jackets, one of them, Akil, frightened us all when he started getting chills.
Akil in green shirt before the chills; all wet in the rain.
Troy volunteered to carry Akil's bag and Rain became his official alalay. We really feared hypothermia might have hit him but it was too late to go back. We were just a few minutes away from the summit and the trail going back was very complicated.
Me at Mt. Makiling's summit
When we reached the summit, they made Akil sit in the bushes to hide him from the wind. Sir Aim also gave him his jacket and threw whatever they could throw on Akil just to keep him warm. Good thing Sir Aim had a stove that he was able to heat water for Akil.
That's Akil covered up in layers of clothing to keep him warm. Sir Aim behind him desperately trying to heat water, protecting his fire from the strong wind.
When Akil felt a little better, we immediately took off for the trail going to Los Baños, disregarding Peak 3. But it was still a long trek going down. It was 2:45 when we left the summit. Sir Maldz and Sir Jury led the team while Sir Aim stayed at the tail. The two sirs walked so fast, followed by Rain, Akil, and me. Good thing the trail had no ligaw because I suddenly found myself alone in the middle of the trek. Rain and Akil walked so fast that I was left behind, while the others in the tail group were much slower than I was that they were so far behind me!
Then I remembered Sir Jury's kwento before we set off that morning. He related how one time, he and another MSOC member couldn't find their way out while descending Mt. Makiling. They would keep on walking but would find themselves in the same place over and over again. It was almost dark that time and they knew what was happening. Namamaligno sila. Then they saw a little boy in white sando ran across the trail in front of them, before disappearing in thin air. After that, they were able to find their way out.
So I feared the same thing would happen to me. It would be worse cuz I was alone. So I walked fast, took my whistle attached to the strap of my new Hawk daypack, and whistled like mad. No answer though, either from Rain and Akil ahead of me, or from the group of four behind me. I walked alone for almost an hour and it was getting dark. I had my headlamp with me, but still!
What's worse was when I felt the need to do number 1. What if I peed on a punso or something? But I couldn't help it anymore so I just said "Tabi-tabi po!" and did it. I haven't been so frightened peeing in my whole life.
I was also looking around if I was passing by the same area over and over again. If what happened to Sir Jury happened to me that day? I really wouldn't know what to do. Imagine being mamaligno alone!
Anyway, I suddenly saw Rain and Akil ahead. They slowed down because Rain's foot got injured. The kid was wearing a pair of Nike slippers. He thought MakTrav was an easy climb because it was just a dayhike so he didn't wear anything appropriate.
But I was really lucky his foot got injured. At least it made them slow down.
It seemed like an endless trail, really. We reached the Los Baños jump-off after walking non-stop for three-and-a-half hours and it was already dark that time. Sir Maldz and Sir Jury were taking a bath when we arrived at the jump-off. I just washed-up, though. I fear pasma.
After about 30 minutes, the tail group arrived, dirtier than us. They only had one headlamp making the trek in the dark forested, muddy trail a very messy feat. Good thing the water coming out of the pump was lukewarm so some of the kids took a bath.
After cleaning up, we walked to find a jeepney that would take us to where we could have dinner. We stopped at Sulyaw sa Grove and I have to tell you, the food there was cheap! It was just so bad that my camera ran out of battery that time that I wasn't able to take any pic of/at the resto. So here's Sulyaw taken from kainlb.blogspot.com:
I have to tell you, if you're going to UPLB, you have to drop by Sulyaw to experience good food without shelling out a lot of moolah. There's a catch, though. You have to bring your plates, etc to the counter at the far end of the restaurant after you eat. But they won't make you wash those naman. So okay lang.
After eating, the three sirs went off for a drink, while we head to Alabang. The rest of the team were from Quiapo so they still had to take another bus ride from Alabang, while I took a jeepney to go home.
I must say MakTrav is one tiring dayhike. My muscles ached again as if it was my first climb. But there's no regret whatsoever. MakTrav was one heck of an experience.
Here's a compilation of the pics and videos of my Mt. Makiling Traverse with the MLQU Stallions Outdoor Club: