Last week of July, I learned that my young friends in MLQU Stallions Outdoor Club (MSOC) were planning to do a Mt. Maculot hike on the first weekend of August. I get invited to MSOC climbs most of the time so it was kinda automatic (especially with these young members) that I would be joining them on this one.
No one among those climbing that time had been to Mt. Maculot before, while I already did a traverse of the mountain September last year with my friend Danilo. So I was immediately appointed as the guide.
It was my first time to ever guide a group of climbers in the mountains, but as they say, there's always a first time for everything. My knowledge of the route, though, was Brgy. Pinagkaisahan – Grotto – Summit – Rockies – Brgy. Tiko. They were planning on a night trek to Rockies but I remember the trail as very easy so I agreed.
K (who is a member of MSOC himself) and I met the other members of the team around 9 PM at the Buendia bus terminal. We took a Lipa-bound bus cuz a road restoration was going on in Cuenca and no bus would go directly to the town.
The kids lingered for a while at McDonalds Lipa so we got to Cuenca a little past midnight. I had to ask someone from a Karinderia on how to get to the registration area cuz there were no tricycle that time of the night.
It drizzled on and off since we got to Lipa up to the time we got to the Rockies campsite. The trail was easy enough especially that we walked in a very easy pace. The kids wanted to enjoy it. It was, after all, their first climb since they graduated from the MSOC training.
I was surprised to see the camp site so different from what I saw last year. The lone small hut last year was now three big huts, and the small pile of garbage multiplied a hundred times. And that's not exaggerating because in one hut alone, we found two sacks full of garbage, not to mention those that were strewn around and plastic bags left hanging on roof of the huts. One simple word to describe the campsite of Mt. Maculot these days: kadiri.
I just wish all of us who love to admire the beauty of nature are all sensitive enough not to do the things that we know would harm what we enjoy seeing.
And then again that differentiates someone who loves to climb mountains, from someone who loves the mountains and nature in itself; a mountaineer from an environmentalist.
“This is not to suggest, however, that the mountain areas are free of environmental problems, notably deforestation. The more pragmatic view is that while there are inevitably conflicts between man’s activities in the mountains and the natural ecological balance, it is the extent of the resulting problems that has been overstated.” - Tourism Development and Environmental Management in Nepal
Back to the climb, the weather had not been so friendly even after sunrise. K and I attempted to climb the Rockies while the others were still resting but K wouldn't even attempt to go up with the thick fog and howling winds.
A few hours after, though, the fog had lessened and the wind became bearable. We attempted to go up the Rockies even if we couldn't even see a trace of the Taal Volcano through the fog. But then I thought it's better than to not bring them to the Rockies at all.
It was a great climb with the kids. I was also kinda pleased that they were careful not to leave any of our garbage behind. After all, that's what MSOC had taught them to do – to "Leave No Trace."
*On how to get to Mt. Maculot, please refer to my first blog of the mountain by clicking here.