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Hiking : Mt. Makiling (UPLB Trail)

Photo taken near the trailhead
After almost 4 weeks of staying indoors due to chicken pox, I returned to one of my favorite mountains, Mt. Makiling in Los Banos, Laguna. Although the trail is known to have lots of leeches (or limatiks as we locals call it), its rainforest is so beautiful - countless enormous trees with branches shrouding the sky, big ferns along the trail, endemic flowers at Peak 2, truly a plant lover's happy place. :) 

I knew I wouldn't be as strong as I was before getting sick since I hardly moved in weeks but it was a familiar trail (and one that I sorely missed!) with a 16 KM long course, out and back that takes 4-5 hours to complete. I figured I'd be okay if I took it easy. 
A customary shot with my favorite tree found along the trail - before we got into the denser section of the forest
We started hiking at 12:45 noon. It rained on the 1st hour  and the limatiks relentlessly sprung towards almost every part of my body, which I fought off by spraying alcohol. 

We weren't even halfway when I started feeling breathless and dizzy. I certainly did not expect my endurance to be that bad  because I actually felt able enough as we started but it was an assumption that almost made me lose consciousness. I survived by taking slow careful steps  and stopped when I was breathless.  

We reached peak 2 in two hours and it took another two hours to return to the jump-off where we bathe and removed the rest of the limatiks that hid inside our clothes. 
Tanny at Peak 2. Medinilla pendula (fuschia flowers) at the background
Still, I consider this a happy hike because well - I was able to hike and inhale generous amounts of fresh mountain air!  :) It was actually a good assessment of how much I need to train to get back into shape so I can do several more long hikes before the year ends. And honestly, with my fitness level down, I found this much more challenging than our Kitanglad-Dulang-Dulang traverse (blog here).  I felt so excited when we finally got down, like it was my first time in a mountain trail. 

Travel Notes & Expenses : 
How to Get to UP Los Banos 
Coming from EDSA (South bound side), just board any bus with a signage, "Alabang" . 
All Alabang buses stop at South Station. Fare is 45 Pesos (aircon bus). From South Station, take a  bus going to Sta. Cruz and ask for the bus conductor to let you off near UPLB campus. Fare from South Station Alabang to Los Banos is 64 PHP with a travel time of 2 hours. It's so much longer going back due to heavy traffic at Calamba. 

Jeep from Los Banos to UPLB College of Forestry - 8.50 PHP (Note that not all jeeps pass by College of Forestry so better ask the driver before boarding if they're driving by that route. 

Registration/hiker - 10 PHP (You will need to leave an ID). 
Jeep from UPLB to Centro Mall - 8.50 PHP (this is where we ate dinner)
Centro Mall to Calamba - 22 PHP
Calamba to Alabang - 50 PHP something

A well constructed itinerary & list of expenses can be found at Pinoy Mountaineer.

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