Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twin Hikes of Mounts Manabu & Maculot

How about hiking 2 mountains in a day? Impossible? Not really. It could be difficult, but certainly doable with proper planning of time and destinations. Below is a photo taken from the summit of Mt. Manabu in Sto. Tomas, Batangas. The mystic Mt. Banahaw is barely discernible, covered with haze and a few clouds near its summit.

Our group of 12 climbers met at Fiesta Mall in Lipa City, Batangas the other Sunday at 6:00 am. After taking our breakfast of lomi soup worth Php 40/bowl in a Sto. Tomas eatery, we arrived at Mt. Manabu's jump off point at past 7:30 am. 

Surprisingly, a co-worker RV lives in exactly the parking area of the jump off point, so his gracious family became our "accidental host" who prepared our lunch of tinolang manok and lots of coconut drink.

The trail is fairly easy, with steep parts only near the campsite and at the summit. We passed by the hut of Mang Pirying, the famous hermit on this part of the mountain. He's not in his hut that morning, but his brother still offered us their free and freshly brewed barako coffee. Most of those who availed the free coffee drink bought the small grounded packs for Php 20 each.

The campsite, where the remaining campers are either preparing breakfast or dismantling their tents.

The view of the campsite from the summit of Mt. Manabu.

The white cross at Mt. Manabu's summit. By the way, Mt. Manabu got its name from the shortened "mataas na bundok" or high mountain in English. Yet at 760 meters above sea level, its not difficult to climb. The 706 MASL height of Mt. Maculot Rockies is lower but is more challenging, on my opinion.

That's me pointing to Mt. Maculot in Cuenca town, our next hiking destination later that afternoon.

On our way back, we took the traverse trail via the grotto, where there is water source.

So after a very fulfilling lunch prepared by RV and his family, we just bought rice and some drinks at Lipa City before transferring to the jump off point in Mt. Maculot. Three of our members left ahead of us, since they do not intend to camp overnight. The remaining 9 of us travelled about 30 minutes by hired jeepney to Cuenca, Batangas, arriving before 3:00 pm.

After around 2.5 hours of short but steep trekking with heavy backpacks, we arrived at Maculot's campsite with enough daylight to setup our tents. There were at least 20 tents pitched on the campsite that night.

We saw this large millipede, at least 8 inches long near our tents.

Dinner is reheated chicken adobo and Bicol express, with steamed rice that got cooked despite the strong winds at the campsite. Socials is filled with jokes and stories over 1.5 bottles of a cheap local brandy. 

With individual headlights, we tried to search for the trail up to Maculot's summit during the night, but the trail is not well established. It was so cold in the campsite, aggravated by strong winds. Luckily, it did not rained. Otherwise it would have been colder. Our tents' exposed flysheet has dews the following morning.

The next morning, we explored the Maculot's Rockies. This time, we found the rock trail to the "flat rock ledge" on the edge of the mountain overlooking Taal lake.

Unlike in our first climb to Mt. Maculot, the weather is more cooperative this time, allowing us a clearer view of Taal volcano and even Tagaytay ridge.

As expected, the views from the Rockies are simply breathtaking.

Planking on the edge of the Rockies.

By 10:30 am after brunch and dismantling our tents, we started our descent to the mountain. As responsible mountaineers, we collected our garbage and even picked up other campers' trash. The place where we mounted our tents showed no trace of foreign objects. We noticed 2 more coconut juice stations along the trail, aside from the halo-halo store.

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