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Meeting Mt. Sialdang/Halcon

May 18, 2015 holds a  happy event in my outdoor life that I want to share with you. :) After months of planning and training, I finally reached the summit of one of my dream mountains - Mt. Sialdang or popularly known in the local hiking community as Mt. Halcon. 

*Mt. Sialdang is the name given by the locals to the mountain. 
Me at the summit of Mt. Halcon. Photo taken by Gene Gonzales
This beautiful mountain, the highest peak in the province of Oriental Mindoro at a height of 2,582 MASL and 18th among the mountains in the Philippines has been on my hike list for years now. Closed in 2006 by local officials and the DENR, it was only in March 2015 when clear policies were put into place, making hiking activities official from February 1 to May 31 of each year. I was not going to let this year pass without visiting! :) 

It is rated with a difficulty level of 9/9 and  although it's trails are not as technical as what I've seen in other Philippine mountains like Guiting-Guiting or Dulang-Dulang, it's still very steep and arduously loooong! It took us 1.5 days to reach the summit and with the poor traction of my shoe, I found it even more challenging to hike down. It was excruciating to the knees! 
Photo About 30 minutes to the summit
Despite the challenging trail, 
I fell in love with its lush forests and variety of terrain. We hiked through mossy forests, crossed open trails with banana trees everywhere, passed several small falls and crossed a big river.  We were fortunate that limatiks (leeches) were not so active when were there and me and 3 others in our group managed to escape a bite. :)

Its summit is nothing I've seen before, it is scattered with cuts and slabs of marble and surrounded with colorful shrubs and although we were only given 5 minutes of clearing, we still saw a rewarding view of clouds and nearby mountains. 
Summit break. Photo taken by Gene Gonzales
Crossing the breathtaking Dulangan River. This was also where we set camp for two nights. 
I am already excited to go back next year! :) 

To my Halcon buddies - Allen Yatco, Gene Gonzales, Eric Leron and Carlos, thank you and hope to see you again soon! :) 

Below is a copy of our climbing log and expenses for your reference. 
Climbing Log (via Lantuyan trail): 
Day 0 - May 16, 2015 
- Took the 11:00 AM Fastcat ferry to Calapan
- after arriving in Calapan, we rented a tricycle to Baco from the pier (we stopped over at Jollibee Calapan for 
a quick lunch)
- went to Baco Tourism office to process our permit (advance coordination necessary) 
5:30 PM - ETA, Lantuyan, checked in at Tagbungan Mountain Resort for proper rest

Day 1 - May 17, 2015
6:30 AM Start (assault)
9:00 AM Limatik Infested trail
10:30 AM Big water source (we heard voices when we resumed trekking)
11:30 AM Aplaya (Dungawan) (refilled water at a nearby falls)
12:30pm Aplaya camp site 
2:30pm Dulangan Campsite (river crossing)

Day 2 - May 18, 2015
4:00 AM Start
6:00 AM Last water source before intense assault
8:30 AM Knife-edge
9:15 AM Summit
10:30am Descend summit
3:30pm Back at Dulangan campsite

Day 3 - May 19, 2015
7:10 AM Start descent
8:30 AM Aplaya campsite
11:00 AM Border (Boses / Limatik Trail)
11:45 AM Kubo(kaingin)

12:50 PM Back at jumpoff at Lantuyan 
8:00 PM took Montenegro Ferry back to Batangas Pier 
10:00 PM ETA, Batangas Pier
12 MN ETA, EDSA Magallanes 

Other Information :
Hiking season is February 1-May 31 of each year. 

Advance coordination is required to hike Mt. Halcon, please visit Mt. Halcon - Pinoy Mountaineer for more details.

Contact person : 
Jojo (Baco Tourism Office) - +63 9198821442

My Training Plan
I got sick two weeks before the hike but as I started training months ahead, I was able to develop endurance and the adjustment during the actual hike was not as bad as I expected. 

I trained on my own for  2-3 times a week and the exercises comprised of the following : 

Swimming - 2-3 times a week, 1 hour per session
Elliptical machine - at least 15 minutes ( I hated this :P)
Stairs training - at least 1x a week (I practiced in our office building)
Time & budget permitting - 1 hiked at least 1-2x a month

Diet : 

As I was recovering from sickness,  I fueled my body with good food like quinoa, veggies and fish 5 days before our trip. It really worked well and I felt light and agile during the hike. 

Trail Food & Hydration:

Dried cranberries, GU Energy Gel, peanuts, 500 ML of Pocari Sweat and 500 ML of Gatorade, 1 liter of water. There are several water sources so it was enough to get me through 3D and 2N in the mountain. :) 

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