Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mountain | Mt Batulao, Stepping Into Dreamland

MOUNTAIN | Mt Batulao, Stepping Into Dreamland
Nasugbu, Batangas

Derived from the Filipino Phrase "Bato sa Ilao" (Illuminated rocks), Mt Batulao is a favored mountain by newbie to experienced outdoorsmen. With open trails, some steep rocky slopes combined with the cool weather associated with the highlands of Tagaytay; Mt Batulao is a hot spot drawing crowds of adventurers during weekends.

Fun Climb It Was

An easy climb with unforgettable landscape, Mt Batulao easily topped any other Mountains I climbed this year when it comes to beautiful landscape next to Mt Pulag. A first time to Mt Batulao for me which proved to be a memorable one. Some of my back packing and outdoor friends describe this mountain to be a favorite for camping and though they descibe what to expect and see during the trek, the actual experience was more than my fair share of adventure in a day. Right smack in the middle of rainy monsoon season in the Philippines, we arrived in Nasugbu on a grey cast morning sky, complete with fog that blanketed the entire Tagaytay area. Its was a cold morning, so we opted to walk to the jump off area for warm up much to the dismay of tricycle drivers offering a ride. I was told to expect dipping in mud, thick deep and slippery mud but I was still surprise with the trail before me. Hikers to and fro were scrambling to safest foothold in every step, some are already barefoot since their training foot wears got broke and buried in; a lesson in hiking, always wear the right footwear. Eventually, with a few rain showers which forced me to bring out my umbrella (I bring umbrellas instead of poncho's) we came to a fork in the trail with the left down trail leading to Old trail traverse to New trail, the Cogon grasses are much taller here, since there are but scant residential homes here, the muddy tracks are gone. The Old trail looked pretty good, mostly covered in vegetation until you reached camp 1 where most climbers pitch their tents. Near the camp site, we ate our packed lunch in the middle of nowhere with mountain views and rolling landscapes; one of those relaxing moments that I wouldn't trade for anything else. After our lunch break, we headed for the summit assault which actually meant scrambling in rocks along a very steep side of the mountain.

This is the camp site in the Old trail where we first register for Php 20.00 per pax

Few meters above the campsite, we sat down beside a leafless tree and ate our lunch. We had a pleasant lunch as it is sunny but not too hot, we see trail runners running the tops of the summit that covers the spine of the mountain.

Group selfie before the assault to the summit.

We headed for the summit assault which actually meant scrambling in rocks along a very steep side of the mountain.

We are entering the challenging part of this hike, scrambling through loose rocks in a steep slope of the mountain. I felt very vulnerable at one point, realizing that I have to push through or I won't get off this mountain. The open fields that provided such an amazing view is now making me feel diminutive and insignificant, a small slip and I may come tumbling through rocks, if rock hugging is a sport, this must be it. Once we stood on a small flat land, like a saddle point before we make our assault to the summit, the rain came pouring for a few minutes, this time I didn't bother getting my umbrella and allowed myself to get soaked. One of the very few moments that I bath in rain shower as an adult and it sure brought back memories of childhood fun were I beg my Mother to let me out in the rain. It was thrilling, but now we have to be very careful with slippery rocks on a rappelling part before us. Rain Clouds sweeping past by us, and carefully we managed to reached the summit to meet a few climbers crossing from New to Old trail.

The daunting trail before us, we have to pass this trail with ravines on both side, circling up the rocks to an almost 90 degree rock wall were we rappel our way to the summit. It looks scary from where we stand, I remember this is the part in which a blogger friend turned back, on his blog post account he was too scarred to push through and felt it better to be safe than foolish.

Rappelling our way up one after another. Its Lance turn on the ropes, and with his cramping leg muscles, we all watched out for him.

We made it to the summit, Mt Batulao's Camp 10 is its highest peak with panoramic views of a beautiful landscape, only on this hike, the summit is in a blanket of fog when we reached it.

Going on traverse, the New Trail open before us from a cover of rain clouds and it looks like we will be passing through some temple run ways, only steeper and the danger of falling through is real.

The Dinosaur spine's silhouette, visible through thick mist. The trail goes either on top or and beside it.

Joyce is walking bare foot on a nerve wracking edge trail with steep ravines on both side. The thick mist around helps cover up the supposedly scary height. With only one wrong step, one could fall and break a bone or fall into his death.

We were asking ourselves, as we muster courage to get down the New Trail, is this really considered am easy hike? knowing that we just rappelled our way to the summit of Mt Batulao, scrambled through loose rocks and the ravines that we pass by are sure deadly to fall in. From here on, the sky remained as it is, cool grey cast, not exactly ideal for any our portraits and trekking pictures but it sure made the photos look much more compelling and dramatic. The wet rocks and swaying Cogon grass fields added to the elements and pin pointed our location, in made me realise that I don't want to be anywhere else but here right this moment.

In between rocky boulders and a lone tree.

Eventually as we descend more and getting into open fields of Cogon Grass, we walked into dreamland, with mist hovering above us and the wet green leaves of grasses look more saturated and fresher. The landscape opened up once again, letting us survey the things that make Mt Batulao a favored hiking place for Filipino outdoors men.

Walking into dreamland. The Cogon grass swaying in the cool wind, ominous rain clouds hovering above us and at the top of one of the peak stands Mye waiting for us to make this crossing.

A dreamy tableau before me, like a metaphor of life going on a curve in the trail and climbs of ups and downs to reached one's destination.

Lance has taken a sigh of relief after suffering from cramp leg muscles in the summit of Mt Batulao. The trails became more friendly and pleasing in the eyes, I can imagine him feeling like he's almost home.

Almost but not quite there yet. We took a rest stop on this hut, battered down by a Typhoon a week ago.

My weary trek shoes; now I can finally say I've been to Mt Batulao and will remember the trek as one of my most significant hike.

I like taking photographs while nature trekking, walking behind travel buddies and taking their photos with the landscape before them. The dreamy landscape of the favored Mt Batulao is perfect, with the cool weather of Tagaytay Highlands of the Philippines, the open trails provide an astonishing vantage point for the rolling landscape of Nasugbu, Batangas. It was my first time to trek Mt Batulao and it left a very deep impression to me of a landscape of swaying grasses, green fields and rocky knife edge summits, turbulent winds and running clouds; I will definitely trek this mountain again, perhaps on a more photography friendly day when it sunny and the fields open up with sunshine.

On The Map

More of Mt Batulao dayhike in my flickr album
CLICK THIS LINK: Mt Batulao Dayhike
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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 comment:

  1. Oh my Batulao! Ganda! wish I have the time and extra energy to explore this spot :)


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