I've heard about Mt. Batulao even before I started climbing mountains. Words about how pleasant and easy it is to climb, and how well-frequented the mountain is by mountaineers and non-mountaineers alike who just want to have a taste of the mountain, make Mt. Batulao a very famous minor climb.
But that fact kind of made me shy away from climbing Mt. Batulao. It's very accessible; ride a Nasugbu-bound bus and ask to be dropped off at Evercrest and that's it.
I climb for the peacefulness of the mountains. I climb for serenity. Thinking about climbing a mountain with so many hikers kinda makes me think twice.
But at the back of my mind, I knew I had to climb Mt. Batulao at one point. And last March 27th, I found myself with K debating whether to climb Manabu Peak or Mt. Batulao. We both haven't been to Manabu yet and it would be an additional expense to hire a guide, while he already climbed Batulao last January with the MSOC (and I was in Mindoro when they invited me the day before they climbed so I wasn't able to join them) and he already knew the trail.
It was already 9 AM when we reached Evercrest. The breeze was cool despite the cloudless sky. We walked all the way to the jump-off which was so far from the main road. You can ride a tricycle if you like but we preferred to walk as a sort of a warm-up.
Mt. Batulao is a grassland. Good thing I learned from previous climbs not to underestimate a mountain however easy the internet claims the climb to be, and I brought stuff that I usually bring every time I climb. A pair of arm warmers is a must-bring for a Batulao climb, not because you need your arms to be warm but for protection from the sun. It's better if you'd wear a long-sleeved dri-fit, but that's not for me unless it's a really cold mountain.
Caps can shield your face from the sun but bush hats with really wide brims are much better. You wouldn't want your nape to burn. Don't let the coolness of the wind fool you. It really is hot.
For this climb, though, I used K's beige brim hat because I couldn't find mine. In exchange, I let him borrow my white and red dri-fit shirt because he couldn't find his own. LoL!
We used the new trail to climb up the summit. It wasn't that hard but it's kinda dangerous cuz you'd be walking on cliff-edges with a very high drop.
At one point (before the cliff edges), we stayed away from the usual trail by passing through a forested area to hide from the heat of the sun for a while. And that's where we found this:
Is this illegal logging, or is this logging illegal? Let's just hope it's not. But what else could that be?
Mt. Batulao's summit is a little small with statues of the Virgin Mary lying on the ground. It's such a shame that they couldn't even find the effort to secure the statues in place. Would it cost much considering the number of hikers who pay the registration fee every day?
One of the statues was even beheaded! C'mown! I think it would be better if we take these religious statues down than leave them there like that.
Anyway, we used the old trail to go back to the jump-off. It's much, much, steeper than the new trail and had we known, we would have opted to use the old trail for the ascent.
But the thing was that even if you already paid the registration fee for using the new trail to climb up, you need to pay another registration fee of Php 20.00 per head if you chose to use the old trail for your descent. Or vice-versa.
Here's a view of the mountain from the old trail:
We stopped for a while to drink sabaw ng buko which cost Php 20.00 each. It was quite refreshing considering the scorching hotness of that day. We took that moment to rest and clean up a bit with our towels. There's a broken mirror at the buko stand and we laughed at ourselves for looking so grimy - dust and sweat and all that.
My Mt. Batulao experience could be summed up as fun. The sceneries were superb and balancing yourself so you wouldn't slide down with the powdery dry soil was a challenge. Good thing my Sandugo sandals still served me right despite its being already worn down.
We were at Evercrest by 3 PM. There's a wedding ceremony going on at the Caleruega Church that I wasn't able to take pictures. Shy din naman ako paminsan-minsan. Besides, we looked so dirty against the tuxedo and Barong Tagalog clad guests. LoL!
3 PM is still early despite the fact that we started out late. And since it's early enough to still roam around, we decided to have a late lunch at Nasugbu's town proper.
But that's another story.
How to get to Mt. Batulao
* board a Nasugbu-bound bus
* asked to be dropped at Evercrest (P106.00 from Pasay Rotonda to Evercrest as of this writing)
* walk or ride a tricycle to the jump-off (going towards the direction of Evercrest)
* pay dayhike registration of P20.00 (registration area is way deep into the mountain; overnight fee is P30.00)
* pay another registration fee of P20.00 if you decide to use a different trail to go down (there are two trails – the new and old)
* wash up at the stores lining the Tagaytay-Nasugbu road where you dropped off (costs P20.00)
* wait for a bus back to Baclaran or Pasay (we're told the last trip passes by around 8:30 PM)