Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dayhike of Mt. Cristobal in Dolores, Quezon

A week after a very short hike in Tayak Hill, our AKAC Group or Abot Kamay Adventure Club, went to climb Mt. Cristobal via the trail in Dolores, Quezon. Seven of us met at San Pablo City by 6:00 am, where we’ve had our breakfast, before proceeding at the public market. We chartered a jeepney at Php 1,200 for a round trip travel to and from our jump off point.

We registered first at a barangay official’s house in Santa Lucia, before the jeepney driver took us to the last point of the unslippery cemented road. Donation is optional, and we gave Php 20/head. We arranged our gears, did our stretchings, and said our prayers at the jump off point, while local residents are cleaning and packing their harvested radish and sayote.

It was already past 8:00 am when we started our hike, so the sun’s rays are beginning to drain our energy, as we walked the uphill cemented road. A grassland with carabao mud pools lie at the end of the cemented road, where Mt. Banahaw serves as a backdrop.

The ladies took their washroom break at Montelibano’s house, where we were asked to register again and paid Php 20/head. I took a catnap on their hammock, under the shade of their dalandan tree with fruits.

Mt. Cristobal’s is thickly forested, which is very refreshing, inspite of the long and steep trails. The forest canopy provides shelter and food to a lot of birds and other animals. Since I was the trail leader during the ascent, I saw many hawks and insects, and heard cacophony of bird calls. 

I cannot forget a hornet-like insect of about 2” in length, which hovered a few feet from me, with silver-blue shiny color. I have tried to look for its name and photo on the internet, but it seems to be undocumented at this time. I hope that this biodiversity be spared from human's destructive activities for many generations.

Photos below show some of the living things found in the mountain. Left photo is a hanging plant seeds with sprouting leaves. Center photo is a tiny bug with unique color pattern. Right photo shows sunflowers or daisies, which greets the hikers on the initial part of the trail.

Some people call this as devil's mountain, in contrast with Mt. Banahaw earning the name as holy mountain. But for me this is also a nice mountain, and there is no such thing thing as good or bad mountain.

There are many fallen trees brought by previous typhoons. As we got near the summit, the trail turned from dipterocarp, into grassland, then mossy forest. At 1370+ MASL, the trail went downward into the old crater of the extinct volcano. Below is a picture of the mossy campsite, which could accommodate only about 6 tents.

Some garlic pods left by previous campers have germinated. This proves that the “Leave No Trace” principle must be religiously followed, to avoid foreign objects from contaminating the endemic plant landscape of the mountain.

Here is a photo of my AKAC co-hikers, with the small crater lake as the background.

We were not able to climb the Jones Peak on the next photo, since we like to avoid hiking back in the dark.  We hope to climb it on our return, when we do a traverse of the mountain.

The views on some parts of the trail are already breathtaking, mostly on the part before the descent to the crater lake. Below is Mt. Banahaw covered by clouds.

Hills and valleys on Rizal and San Pablo areas.

If I’m not mistaken, the other hill with barely discernible white cross on top is Tayak Hill.

Descending at dusk, Mt. Banahaw is almost cleared of clouds.

After washup and snack of balut (steamed duck embryo), dinner followed at Palmeras Restaurant in San Pablo City. Prices are a bit steep with the so-so quality of their food and service. Only their ambience and band entertainment makes up for their shortcomings. 

Looking forward to a traverse climb of Mt. Cristobal, or a hike to the neighboring Mt. Banahaw next time!

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