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For the Love of Hiking - 2 Days, 6 Peaks in Southern Luzon

“We climbed 'cause it's fun. And mainly it was fun. That's all we ever did.” A dialogue from a documentary movie, Touching the Void echoed exactly what I felt when I agreed to join a crazy hiking trip organized by a friend - Ceejay Custodio, co-founder of Green Mountain Tribe (GMT). 

The plan was to get to 6 peaks in a span of one weekend which meant covering 3 peaks in a day. While it sounds outrageous, what appealed to me was that I get to see several mountains in 48 hours and I didn't even have to file for a leave! :)  

Day 1 - Mt. Malipunyo, Biak na Bundok and Mt. Manabu
Our mountain tryst began at 5:00 AM from the Mt. Malipunyo jump-off in Barangay Talisay in Lipa, Batangas. 

With me and Ceejay were 7 other new found friends, an energetic bunch comprised of both tenured and new mountaineers from everywhere. Sun was still out and light from our headlamps illuminated the road. Taking the lead was our chatty guide, Kuya Mario. Our "support crew" of two stayed behind. They're a lovely couple who treated us like their own children and took care of our food and transportation.

First hour of the hike was easy as most of trail was relatively flat though a bit rocky. Pace was a tad quicker than my usual frolicking pace but I tried my best to keep up - that or get left behind in the dark. Not an option. :P

Our first stop over was in a small river and from there, trail started slinking upwards to a deeper portion of the forest. Soon enough, we had to make frequent stops to catch our breath.

After two more hours, we reached the summit of Mt. Malipunyo which humbly soars at a height of 1,005 MASL. No breathtaking views welcomed us as it was foggy, cold and mildly raining when we got there. We didn't have time to savor our first peak because we were all busy trying to keep warm. The winds blew mercilessly but no one whined. We were all happy to have completed it. :P

Our next peak was the hill, Biak na Bundok. To get here, we had to pass by the slopes of Mt. Susong Dalaga. Here I saw the best view for the entire trip. I've never been here and was surprised to see a 360 view where nearby mountains of Manabu, Makiling and more can be seen. 

Last stop for the day was Mt. Manabu. We took a dense, unpopular trail where we incurred scratches from thorny shrubs and wild grasses.

At Mang Pirying's hut located 20-30 minutes from the campsite, free Kapeng Barako is served to hikers who are willing to stop a bit and chat. Here they sell ground (20 pesos/6 tbsps.) and souvenir shirts.

Best coffee break!
Descending from the summit
After a late second lunch, we traveled via hired jeep to Ternate, Cavite, a 3-hour travel from Sto. Tomas, Batangas. 

That night, after a filling dinner and socials, we slept at cold wooden benches at the DENR, the primary registration area for climbers going to Pico De Loro, our fourth peak. (Bawal malikot matulog!:P)

Day 2 - Pico De Loro Traverse to Nasugbu, Mt. Talamitam and Mt. Batulao

On our final day - everyone woke up with body pains everywhere and it took a warm breakfast and cups of kapeng Barako before everyone got ready. 

Off to our fourth peak!

Pico de Loro is frequented by mountaineers on a weekend. A guide is not necessary but you have to be very mindful of trail signs situated along the forks. One can easily get lost and land in either Maragondon or Nasugbu if a wrong turn is made.

The Parrot's Beak, Pico de Loro's trademark
Views of the South China Sea and the rest Mt. Palay-Palay mountain range at the summit
From the summit, we made our way to our exit point, the almost desserted Ternate-Nasugbu Highway. On the cement, we sat and ate our lunch - hot bulalo on a hot day with plenty of rice and soy sauce.

Last two peaks!

At this point, our group of 9 had dwindled to 6 due to either fatigue or severe hang-over from the previous evening's socials. :P 

Last time I remembered, Mt. Talamitam was an easy hike but this time, it was a bit challenging with the sore legs and the hot sun as most parts do not have much coverage. We found ourselves stopping every now and then for a bit of shade under the trees. The exhaustion was starting to get to us but we managed to laugh our way through it.

On our last mountain, what was normally an easy trail became extra grueling and felt my legs had turned to rock. It was past 6:00 PM when we started and soon, the area became dark. Silhouette of Batulao's numerous jagged peaks, city lights from afar and of the campsites were our views. 

Wind was so strong at the summit where we spent less than 30 minutes. It was too cold! Below's our group shot - obviously, too tired to get a good one. :P

It was about 9:00 PM when we got back to the jump-off and everyone was just exhausted and famished. No one had the energy for wild hoorays but we were all happy that we've completed it. 

We reached Alabang at almost 1:00 am with no decent bath and  no heavy meal which I've been envisioning since we got down from Batulao,  but despite all that, I went home, smiling like a lovesick fool. The time I spent enjoying the mountains and the entertaining company made up for the pain, scratches and sore muscles. :) 

"Take nothing but pictures, Leave nothing but footprints, Kill nothing but time."

Our Itinerary is posted at the Green Mountain Tribe website: Click here

Expenses :
9,900 Pesos - for 9 People which included round trip jeepney rental from Alabang, 1 breakfast, 2 lunches and 1 dinner, all registration fees, guide fee for Mt. Malipunyo to Manabu. It's a pretty good deal! :)

Kuya Rey - +63-0916-3432426 - Jeepney rental
Mario - +63-998-409-4899 - guide for Mt. Malipunyo to Manabu (updated Sept. 2016)

*Thanks to Ceejay for some of the photos! :)

I also wrote about this adventure via Rappler. Check it out here. :)

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