Monday, 20 January 2014

Day hike to Mt. Batulao (new trail)

Our destination, the 12th peak 
Brrrrr!!! It was freezing when we arrived at 7:30 am to climb the new trail of Mt. Batulao in Nagsubu, Batangas. Karen and Kebo, who just arrived from Geneva, were garbed in their winter coats while Marge and I were wearing bonnets, scarves and fleece. We didn't expect the cold weather, especially the winds.

The plan was to hike to the 12th peak, to the summit (812 meters in elevation) using the new trail  (left photo) and be back by noon to head to Tagaytay for lunch. That's two hours up and two hours down.

Mt. Batualo is easy to get to. It is located right at the border of Tagaytay and Batangas, about two hours drive from Manila. The jump off point is in Everest Golf and Country Club.

Warning though the climb can be pretty challenging. Most of the trail was made up of loose soil and at times, sandy gravel which made it quite slippery. Towards the summit, the last 2-3 peaks, we were clambering over boulder rocks. In case you don't want your hands to get cut or injured, wear gloves. We were  trying to grab anything that we can hold on to - weeds, plants, protruding rocks, name it -  just to get a grip and help pull us up.
loose sandy trail

clamber over rocks
It was particularly windy that day. We had to stop a few times to find our balance and even duck from the wind. Honestly, if I were a few pounds lighter, I would have been blown away and be rolling down the cliff!

at the summit with Karen, Kebo and Marge
The view from the summit was breathtaking! It offered a 360 degrees view of the whole of Batangas - the rolling green mountains, the blueness off the coast (my favorite dive site) and even Tagaytay Ridge.

After soaking in the view and inhaling the fresh mountain air, we settled by the rocks to enjoy some snacks. We chatted to a family seated next to us - note that they had in tow an 8-year old girl. The family said that they were going to traverse the mountain. This is, climb down using the old path. If the 8-year old can do it, anyone else can.

The downhill was easier but more treacherous because again, it's so slippery that one can easily slide and fall off the cliff.
Kebo rappelling down

Karen negotiating the descent
We got back right on time around 12:30.  The climb was manageable except for that day's windy condition. Marge though was surprised that trail was very slippery. She said that when she climbed last December, she could still get some ground traction. Now, it's all sliding down the trail.

I guess this is due to the number of people climbing Batulao in recent months. That day, there were over a hundred registered climbers. Note that the fee for climbers is P20 for the day and P30 for overnight campers. If you traverese the mountain, that's another P20 fee to pass the other side (or the old trail).

Antonio's Reuben sandwich 
After the climb, we drove to Tagaytay and stopped at  'Breakfast at Antonio's' along the ridge for some recovery food. The place was packed when we got there and had to wait for an hour to get seated.We ordered their signature green salad with balsamic dressing, fresh corned beef as main and salted caramel cheese cake as dessert.

On the way home, we dropped by Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm to shop for
the working bees of Ilog Maria
natural. organic bee products like soap, bee proposlis,  honey lemon vinegar, liniment, leather wax, beeswax candles, mosquito repellent,  etc.  The farm is located at Km. 47 along Aguinaldo Highway in Silang, Cavite. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8 am to 5:30 pm.

As a side note,  if you're wondering why it's uncharacteristically cold right now here in the tropics, this strange phenomena is caused by the polar vortex.  According to Dr. John Holdren, President Obama's Science and Technology Adviser, "a [polar vortex] pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues... the waviness means that there can be increased larger excursions of cold air southward in the mid latitudes".  I stumbled upon his 2-minute explanation on youtube which I want to share with you:


suzaku_lace said...

Thanks for blogging about this Rosan. My friends have been to Mt. Batulao and I haven't. Reading your blog, it seems very challenging to climb. Is there a way to enjoy this mountain without climbing or a trail for beginners?

We're planning to go to this place called Balite falls in Amadeo this weekend :)

Rosan Cruz said...

Hi Lace!
It's not that challenging. If a 7-year old kid can climb the new trail, you can do it!!
Otherwise, take the old trail which is much easier.
Where is Balite Falls?