“I hope you remember that my laughs and smiles are 100 times healthier when I am with you.”
Fakir into the Mountains
The smells of summer cast happiness to our old dying nation. The heat of the sun is burning all the way, from city to the provincial fields. The mountains are delightful for the brim light coming from the star. It was time to unfathomable adventures until the summer last.
I wish this will be the best summer for me. One of our unimaginable summer. My no more tears formula from loneliness of the warm climate bring sad memories from the ghost of my own past. Now, I want to change and leave nothing but happay memories. After exploring the Burot Beach in Calatagan,Batangas. Still on my 5-day vacation leave, I came to continue my exploration without getting tired to the peaks of San Miguel, Bulacan. Originally, it was a planned hike to Mt Maculot but after learning that overnight seems to be impossible. The plan changed abruptly to Twin Hike for Manalmon and Gola.
Ruining the Batangas escapades, after tanning in Burot (See Related Article: http://lenlenmanlalayag.com/2015/04/14/burot-beach-going-solo/). I went back to Manila, slept a bit, change my pack from beach attires to climbing stuff. Meet up with the group and went straight to Cubao Terminal. Hola, from South to North! From Cubao to San Miguel, Bulacan, you can hopped in to bus bound to Cabanatuan via Sta Rita for Php 100-120.00 / $2.00 – 2.70. Day hike is very applicable but you need to be very early. After exiting Sta Rita NLEX toll, you must be an HOKAGE to bypass the traffic.
There will be a bus stop in San Miguel proper, hire a tricycle to Sitio Madlum. Fare is around Php 70.00 – 80.00 / head for a group of 4 or 5 in 1 tricycle. It will take 20 – 30 minutes tryke ride to the Sitio. It was mid morning when we reach the registration hall. We met our guide, Tatay Carling and Tatay Tonyo which were very pleasant to mountaineers. They even have equipment brought to them by hikers. Humidity is high but the dancing bamboos give fresh air around the river.
Registration fee cost Php5.00 and guide fee is Php300.00 day hike or overnight. We started trekking in high noon. The infamous Madlum River, several horror stories were provided to us upon starting the climb. Yes!! It’s killing me softly. I hate horror movies, stories and the monsters below the bed. Madlum have it all. Anyway, back to the trail. The air is refreshing, 10 – 20 minutes later, we arrive near a creek where water source is available. We dipped into the cold water, dive to the murky abyss. After TAKE 30, we decide to continue the hike hitting MT GOLA as our first mountain.
Mt Gola is good for beginners, the trail is diverse with rock formation sulfuric acid seems to melt on the boulders. Reaching the summit will take less than an hour. The sun sets down and the twinkling sky line is on the surface of the Earth. The pretty natural light from the moon is giving us faint light and give calming ambiance to the entire trail. Mulawin trees are all over the place, summer gashed out their leaves and the effect is splendid. Since the darkness started to run unto us, we trek down and start to hike to Mt Manalmon to set our camp.
We reached the camp at full darkness. Nothing beats the night sky during summer over the mountain. It very hard to describe how pretty the stars. Million of stars above dancing with the moonlight. Another FEELS when you climb a mountain. You cannot pay for the beauty seen beyond the city lights. Moving forward from my poetic damnation, we cooked dinner, ate it and socials started once more.
The worst nightmare of the cowardly ME, they started to talk about the headless priest, the big bird who eat humans and the endless river killing. I got enough of it and decided to sleep. I cannot sleep, I can feel the stories lurking from my restless body. It was hot inside my tent, too cold to sleep outside. I transferred to another tent with my buddy because I cannot bear sleeping alone, its haunting me. The cruelty of having vivid imagination, too much horrors can bring worst nightmares.
I can hear the wind whistling all around the camp area, we were the only one who camp out here. The rest of the hikers ducked near the water source. The howling sound of the animals suddenly stop and later I was sound asleep. The morning sun is the greatest of all. I can finally breath properly. LOL! Breakfast serve, chomped the remaining food on our packs and head to our 2nd summit. MT MANALMON peak is wonderful, the entire trail easy to trek and the view can amaze you. After going bananas in the summit it was an official declaration to trek down and finish the last G of the day. Spelunking in Bayukbok Cave (See related article: http://lenlenmanlalayag.com/2015/06/25/bayukbok-cave-do-the-body-language/)
But, our guide is very proud of us and asked us if we wanted to trail another mountain. MT MATINIK is privately owned by a local which is our guide’s relative. The trail is not officially open to hikers because they are still waiting for the private transaction being dealt with the owner of the property. Since our guide is a relative, he introduce us this mountain. We are happy to be part of the few hikers that were able to climb this closed trail. YIHAAA! Feeling HARDCORE! HEHE
The mountain do not have permanent trail, locals climb here to get fruits and sad to say Kaingin. Our guide cut out few bushes to create new trail and the name really fits this mountain. MATINIK which means THORNY. Thorns from wild grass immediately scratched us while we hike up. Thorns and heat were not an ideal combination. GRRRR! It was scorching hot, we were in the middle of April’s warmth and thorns everywhere. This peak is the highest out of the 3 summits. We were able to climb after an hour or so. The view differs from every corner of Sitio Madlum.
We trek down on another trail with luscious wild grass and humidity. I managed to drink all my trail water and my throat starts to ache. We reached the field back to the river and WHAAALALALA, finish 3 summits in mid morning. Filing up my bottle from the water source, we head back to the jump-off to rest before starting the caving activity.
Lunch is served, I need to rest for a while now before starting another trail. I find this hammock hanging in between bamboos. It was the most relaxing part of the trip, the sway and the cold wind makes me want to sleep and forget the cave. Of course, my hike mates won’t allow me to sleep and I need to finish our escapades here in Madlum. So we headed to the cave after resting for a couple of minutes! POWER!
My first trilogy was full of surprises and one of the most memorable hikes I had. Remembering it brings bittersweet smiles. But things happen for a reason, and the REASON IS YOU. LOL!
Source: Personal Photos Jerleen Custodio Copyright
Manlalayag is Seafarer in Filipino. I want to be a pirate who travels to Collect Memories and Steal Happiness from the places I want to go.