Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mountain | Mt Mabilog, The 5th Mountain

MOUNTAIN | Mt Mabilog, The 5th Mountain
Post Climb - Fun Weekend With Chasing Adventures Club

The 5Th mountain, sounds like a title of a novel but not much significance really, this is just how I track the Mountains I climbed this year, it only means that Mt Mabilog was my 5th Mountain. By doing so, I can easily mark them, not minding if I might try climbing the same mountain. As compared to other outdoor enthusiast, the frequency of my climbs are very slow, maybe because of certain preference that I have to consider before I say go or pass on an invitation. Mt Mabilog for me was a huge go when I received an invitation to join a weekend climb by JPMC adventure club called Chasing Adventure.

It was a fun weekend, with a jam packed itinerary, from our jump off in one of Seven Lakes of San Pablo City, Lake Pandin a fabled twin crater lake. By this time, I was already tired from the long jeepney ride from Manila. The group opted to hire two jeepneys to bring us about in Manila to Laguna and vice versa, I was coming off fresh from my night shift work. I am yet to blog about Lake Pandin.

My back pack was heavy; most of the weight is due to the liters of water that I have to carry along the trail. It had been over a month since my last climb, makes me wonder that although I’m enthusiastic about this adventure, am I physically ready? I was about to find out. We rested for about an hour, still too early to hike the mountain, we repacked our bags and distributed the loads in our micro team, and just as we are about to take off, the rain fell down. Just as easy, now I’m expecting muddy trails towards the summit of Mt Mabilog.

It has to be noted that I prefer a leisure climb with camping outdoors, which is climbing the trail slowly and taking the scenery and environment at my own slow pace. What could have been an easy 30 minutes to an hour of ascent, with the guys I was with, it became 2 hours, and we even got lost in the trail by missing a trail sign along the bend in the road. We were hiking through thickets of Bananas, wild bushes of guavas and some fruit bearing trees along the way, the trail all the way up is littered with cow's and horse’s dung, the trail itself is trampled, mostly due to the number of climbers for this weekend plus the fact that locals drive their cattle all over them. Compared to the other mountains I have experienced climbing, Mt Mabilog has a healthy Flora and Fauna despite the obvious disturbance of locals clearing parts of the forest. I carried my camera, slung around my neck all the way through the summit, and at every take 5 minutes of rest (usually exceeds to 15) I get my chance of practicing Macro Photography by photographing insects in their natural environment.

Walking in single file along muddy trails with heavy Banana cover shielding us from most of the rain.

No water source along the way, our arrival in the summit was tumultuous, was I glad to lay down my bag in the wet grass? Yes I was. Muddied and wet of sweat, we were greeted by yet another quick shower of rain, but there is no time to waste. We set up tent, choosing just the right leveled place, so eager was I to get out of my wet clothes and start with fresh ones. Some of my buddies for this climb are already enjoying a toast, and here I was being fidgety thinking how I can change into fresh underwear.

On the far back  in the left side is the holy mountain of Mt Banahaw, and on the right side is the so called devil's mountain of Mt Cristobal as seen from the Summit of Mt mabilog

The Summit
It was only when my tent is done, and my pack, well I brought just about all of its content out and scattered them inside (that’s just the way I am) trashing my own place, did I get to take a long lingering look at where we are, the summit of Mt Mabilog. The summit was a small plateau, mostly flat with circular ridges, we chose to camp on the side facing the majestic Holy Mt Banahaw and the Devil’s mountain of Mt Cristobal. Looking at clouds combing through their slopes, the details of their ridges blurred by the distance and the fog that is slowly enveloping us, far below the plains we can see the twin Lakes Pandin and Yambot looking pristine and too small, it was hard to believe we were at Lake Pandin just a few hours ago. Judging by the slanting light, we are to expect a quick sunset. The summit was a cleared piece of land, there is evidence of Kaingin and on the edge with the best vantage view of the two imposing Mountains stood a small hut where a family is staying for the weekends. The lady of the hut (Manang) begun her hymns of prayer in different languages that she claims to be Arabic with mix of English and Tagalog (pardon me but I think most of it was gibberish), she prayed to the God’s and spirits of the mountains. We left her to her own rituals, just glad of being welcomed to pitch our tents near her humble abode.

The holy mountains as seen on a early morning, laid before them is the plains covered in thick fog with the clearing is seen Lake Pandin one of the Seven Lakes of San Pablo, Laguna.

A Cold Night and a Morning with the Sea Of Fog
It was a belligerent night in the camp, as I retired earlier than most of the campers, I was feeling lethargic after dinner. It was a cold night; we prepared our dinner under rain cover and ate with smiles on our faces. It’s good to be in the company of good natured people, rain or not made no difference. I was awakened in the middle of the night by my buddy; I was having a Nightmare of being slowly asphyxiated. I was even told the next day that I snored, something that is unnatural for me because I don’t snore unless I was stressed or dead tired before I slept.

I woke up early, opening my eyes to a cold light filtering the seams of my tent. The rain had stopped, and the crescent moon was shining directly above us in a cloudless sky, it was a sight to behold, the place bath is a cold blue light, but I don’t feel cold at all, the gentle breeze was a welcome respite, and the views of the mountains before us was like a marriage of two majestic thrones. Light is slowly gathering, and heavy fog has covered the entire plains before us, it was one thing to set up my tripod and take shots of long and short exposures, it was another to feel melancholy and being thankful to be alive to see this spectacle of nature. It was the break of dawn, and I am feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep. What would you give to wake up with the vantage views of beautiful mountains before you?

Vantage view from the summit, The twin lakes of San Pablo Laguna, Lake Pandin and after it is Lake Yambot.

The Descent
Before the sun rose up higher and becomes too painful to trek under it, we break camp and made our descent after a very sumptuous breakfast. To lighten everyone’s load, seems like all the food that was kept in reserve was laid out for a feast, man that was heavy, just what I needed for today’s preparation. Two of the micro teams joined and were the 2nd to the last group to start the descent, it was probably fate that brought me, but this group I was with got lost in the trail just as we were yesterday. Everyone was keeping their cool, storing much of our energy under the shades of trees while scouts are checking the forked trails. Part of having BMC training is to avoid creating new trails and just use at all times if possible the established ones. The trails of Mt Mabilog is very tricky to the untrained ones, since locals are also using it, most of the trails go to a dead end where a Pomelo Tree maybe found or a cow is tied, probably familiar with the inlands of the slopes of Mt Mabilog, locals are creating much of this pseudo trails. I wouldn’t recommend a solo trek to Mt Mabilog with friends or even my readers here. We walked back to where we came from and were lucky enough to converge with another set of climbers from another group who is making a descent; we joined them on the way down. I learned a lot and put into practice my BMC training, along muddy trails, slippery rocks and overhanging vines, I was in good spirits, enjoying my time in the trails of Mt Mabilog.

The team that got lost in the descent, walking along trails under the sun with thick foliage and dewy ferns.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity...”
- John Muir

Francis Balgos is a Call Center Agent, Weekend Travel Warrior, Amateur Spelunker, Sometime Surfer, Newbie Mountain Climber, Photography Enthusiast, Certified Beach Bum, A first born son, Faithful lover, True Explorer...

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  1. madami nga siyang trail na sanga sanga buti nalang may guide kami kasu di rin ganun ka bihasa

    1. Tama ka Sir.. nakakalito yung trail, kaya mahirap sa mga solo climbs.. unless familiar kana talaga

  2. The view from the summit is always the best view and makes the journey really worth the challenge.

  3. Really enchanting photos of nature you got here. What a great hiking adventure right? Tiring but reaching the summit is quite worth it.

  4. It was long ago since I last climb a mountain, back when I was still single then together with my siblings and Father when we used to go visit his province in the mountainous Abra. The memorable part was when we have to shout on top of the mountain to hear the sound of our echoes.

  5. i love your photos!!! climbing is something that I haven't taken up.. but looking at your photos looks like i'm missing out

  6. I am a frustrated mountainer and in fact, I almost completed my gears but work has to come first before my hobby. With the kind of work that I have, time is not really in my side but I was able to climb only one mountain in Cebu.

  7. I haven't climbed this mountain yet but just looking at your pictures makes me want to go already.

  8. Wow, I have always wanted to climb a mountain. Hopefully, that will happen before the year ends.

  9. Sarap bumalik sa Lake Pandin :) I always wanted to try mountain climbing pero hindi paa kaya ng time at ng body ko ngayon hehehe :) Ganda ng Mt Banahaw bro!

  10. Very descriptive notes, as if I am with you on the trail. Ang ganda ng view sa summit, sulit ang 2 hours+ nyong nag-trek. Sana ma-experience ko rin ito but I dunno if my legs will cooperate.

  11. Mt. Mabilog is so majestic, I want to climb this mountain too. :)


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