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A Sunday Adventure - Makiling Day Hike Traverse

"There is a place like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger. Some say to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter." Alice in Wonderland

I’ve always been amused with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland - falling into a rabbit’s hole and finding a magical place surrounded with enchanting trees and animals that can talk. That surreal feeling of amazement – close to a dream is what I crave on a regular basis. That’s why every now and then, I disappear from the city and go to the mountains in search of breathtaking views.

Last weekend, I had another one of those dreamlike experiences in a place barely two hours away from Manila. Armed with information downloaded from the internet, I met with my companions at past 3AM and boarded a Lucena-bound bus. Our destination was the Batangas entry point for Mt. Makiling. We planned to traverse and go down at Los Banos, Laguna.

We arrived at the Sto. Tomas (Batangas) public market in less than an hour. From there, we rode a tricycle that took us to the barangay hall of San Bartolome where we registered. The fee was very minimal – 20 pesos/head. They have restroom facilities where you can take a quick break and a huge lot where you can stretch and fix your stuff.

We started hiking at 6AM. The mountains that lured from afar excited us. It's been  weeks or maybe months since I last hiked. I don't really remember. There were only four of us and we were all friends so it was more like a get-together. The terrain at the start was easy but we missed the first turn so we had to retrace our steps to find the right trail. There weren't much ascents on the first hour but it eventually got tougher. We encountered several boulders where ropes were installed to assist the climbers. There were tight spots where we had to crawl under the trees, slippery trails that made us clung to vines and tons of other surprises. Since all of us were mountain lovers, we had the time of our lives - despite all the sweat and dirt.  

The mossy forests and sharp rocks reminded me so much of G2 in Romblon and Mt. Tapulao in Zambales, while the twisted tree branches were similar to what I saw in Mt. Matarem, Batanes. Still, this mountain has its own charm - a combination of challenging terrains and rewarding views of nearby mountains and towns. I don't know much about the whole flaura and fauna thing but I was very amused with what we have witnessed.  We past an area that had white flowers scattered on the ground which looked like fairy's haven. There was also this metallic green insect perched on a boulder a but I  found it  while I was clinging for dear life with one hand on a rope and the other on a rock so I wasn't able to take a picture. I also saw something I recognized - pitcher plants because I once stayed in an eco lodge in Bukidnon and the owner toured me around  his garden that had about hundreds of those. 

I cannot count the number of times I fell and the slashes I incurred because I wasn’t wearing arm sleeves but I didn’t care. I was happy the entire time except for that one brief moment when I fell and thought I broke my hand. Aaah, the pain was so bad, I had to close my eyes. Thank God I recovered after a few seconds and continued hiking as if nothing happened.

It only rained mildly and the limatiks, which Mt. Makiling is notorious for, seemed to favor only one person in our group,  so the rest of us were spared from those slimy little suckers. (I don't know if the Off lotion we slathered all over our body was the one that saved us). 

Though we got lost twice and had mud all over our bodies,  we got down the mountain in high spirits. See that's what I love about climbing with good friends, it's so much fun! A MakTrav fix totally fed my lust for a weekend adventure!

And since I had so much fun, I am sharing with you our itinerary. It's actually the one we got from the Pinoy Mountaineer website. I just edited the costs and the time. For those who are interested in doing a MakTrav for the first time, here's a friendly advice - do train so you can focus on enjoying the scenery than trying to catch your breath. :) As for the trail water, I am no expert but I brought 2.5 Liters and I was fine the entire day. Do bring packed lunch and don't leave your trash behind.
Oh and one final thing, whoever established the MakTrav trail, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart! It's an amazing trail!

Sto. Tomas, Batangas
Jump-off: Brgy. San Miguel, Sto. Tomas
LLA: 14.13°N 121.20°E, 1090 MASL (Peak 2)
Hours to Peak 2 / days required: 1-2 days / 7-8 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 3 with roped segments

Via Palanggana (West) Trail
330 Meet up at  KFC Buendia
0400 Board a bus to Sto.  Tomas (Signage of the bus is Lucena) at the Jam Terminal (91 Pesos)
0500 ETA Sto. Tomas public market,take tricycle (50 pesos/trike, can fit 4 people with day packs)
0630 ETA jump-off Brgy. San Bartolome. Register (P20), then proceed to water source
0700 Start trek (3 hours to Palanggana Peak)
1000 ETA Palanggana Peak, snacks.
1130 ETA Melkas ridge campsite. Commence Melkas Ridge crossing.
1200 ETA Peak 3. Follow Wild Boar trail to Peak 2.
1400 ETA Peak 2 (Mt. Makiling summit)
1415 Start descent via UPLB trail (We eventually flagged a habal-habal in one of the stores and paid 50/head for one motorbike each, it was a bumpy but nice ride down!)
1600 ETA - UP College of Forestry, Wash up, relax a bit
1800 Walk down the road and wait for jeepney (P8/Head)
1830 Dinner at Chowking near UPLB 
1930 Head to HM Transport Terminal via jeep across Chowking (20+ Pesos each)

2030 ETA HM Transport Terminal, Board a bus to Buendia (68 Pesos/Head)
2130 - ETA - Buendia

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