Hiking Log : Mt. Kitanglad-Dulang-Dulang Traverse in a Day

A mountain that has appealed to my fascination for trees, plants and long hikes is Mt. Dulang-Dulang. :) Located in the province of Bukidnon, it is known for its beautiful mossy forests and is the 2nd highest peak in the Philippines at 2,938 MASL. A trail exists that connects it to a volcano, Mt. Kitanglad, the country's 4th highest summit. 

Since we needed to fly from Manila to get here, we thought it was more economical to squeeze two peaks in one trip instead of going back for the other in a separate trip. :) 
Trees covered in moss at Mt. Dulang-Dulang
Among local mountaineers, this trail is nicknamed as D2-K, with the usual route starting at Mt. Dulang-Dulang and then on to Mt. Kitanglad. However,  we were advised by our friend from Bukidnon, Ben Maputi, that it's cheaper if we do a reverse so we decided to climb up via  Mt. Kitanglad then go down at Mt. Dulang-Dulang. 

Our small packs which helped us move under the trees! :)
Preparation :
Earlier during the year, I made a commitment to get fitter so I started training 10 months prior to the hike,  doing a variation of  swimming, running, football, stairs training and indoor biking, 3-5 times a week. A week before our trip, my quads were in its strongest form, at least that's what it felt at the time. :P  It proved to be beneficial as the Kitanglad-D2 trail is a very long, tough trail with lots of steep ascents and descents.  My main motivation for training then was to be fit enough so I can enjoy the views and not worry about catching my breath.  

The Journey:
October 14, 2014 – me and my two other bestfriends, the ever-sweet couple,  Mors and Tan took the first flight from Manila to Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental. It's  roughly an hour from Cagayan de Oro city (CD0) where there are buses to Bukidnon. 

But first, breakfast at one of my favorite cafes!
From the airport, we rode a shuttle (150 Pesos e/c) that brought us directly in front of their  Limketkai Branch which is open daily from 6AM-10:30PM. Price range of food is 100-300 Pesos and you can buy pastries for your trip too!  
Breakfast at Missy Bonbon, Limketkai Mall. It was also Mors' birthday so we bought her a cake. :) 
I get crazy excited whenever I'm at Missy Bonbon. The interiors just gives out this happy breakfast vibe and I find myself ordering a lot whenever I'm here - a rice meal, bread, cakes, coffee and juice! :P 

We then took a jeep to Agora bus terminal that took us to Bukidnon, the jump-off for our hiking adventure. Travel time from CDO to Bukidnon took around 3 hours and as soon as we arrived in Malaybalay city, we headed directly to the DENR office to secure our permits. 
My hiking buddies, Mors and Tan
Permits cost 170 Pesos/head (85 Pesos/mountain) and after an extensive briefing, we checked in at 1st Avenue Apartelle.  I've stayed here on a previous visit and it feels like a second home to me. It's just a multi-cab ride away from the town proper and the rooms are comfy and the rates - quite cheap at 400 Pesos/night for a private room with cable tv, private t&b and a fan, sweet deal! Malaybalay is a cold town so if you're used to tropical weather, you'd find it rather cold - think Baguio weather minus the chilly wind. 
The night before the hike, we loaded up on seafoods at Amadeo Restaurant. There was no electricity, thus the candle light dinner :P 
Time to hike!
At 5:00 AM the next day,  we were picked up by Ben from the hostel. With him were our two guides - his friend, the very energetic and friendly Joseph and Ben's brother, nice and quiet Nov. He drove us to the highway in Impasugong. From here, road condition is bad, not manageable for a car, so we took a 30-minute motorbike to Sitio Intavas. Here, we rode another motorbike to the Kitanglad jump-off because it was cheaper than getting a motorbike from the highway, all the way to the base of the mountain. It's 300 Pesos/head but if we take two motorbikes - it'll only cost us half its price! 

The butt-bruising ride to the base. We had to go down many times as the road was just too bumpy for two people on a bike
We started our ascent at 7AM. The trail of Mt. Kitanglad is thick with tree branches sticking out from the ground, I bumped my poor legs quite a lot. 

Air was also quite thin up here and being a lowlander, I wasn't used to it. Every motion took a lot of effort and I found myself out of breath countless times even if my legs didn't feel tired at all. It felt as though my lungs weren't getting enough air so I would inhale as much air as I could which helped a bit. The views however, made up for the difficulty. There were flowering shrubs, ferns, truly a visual treat for a nature-lover! :) 
Fern and twisted tree trunks everywhere!
Apart from the forest cover, I was amused to discover the metal stairs that were put up in the steep sections to ensure the safety of hikers. Our friend Ben actually helped put it up, and while I prefer the trail in its natural form,  I think the permanent fixtures does benefit a frequently visited mountain such as this. Having these structures helps keep  the trail intact; everyone passes by a single trail instead of people hacking sections to overtake other hikers. 

After four hours of steady-paced trek and timed breaks of no more than 3 minutes each, we arrived at the summit of Mt. Kitanglad, which was still within schedule. Early on, our group had agreed that if we didn't make it to the summit by 12 noon, we will abort the traverse and head back to town.  
Group shot at the summit of Mt. Kitanglad
The summit had communication towers manned by a couple of friendly guys. DENR also has a bunkhouse here which can be rented out by hikers but advance coordination must be done. 

After a quick snack, we headed down the trail to Mt. Dulang-Dulang. Staggering drops welcomed as we made our way down which looked daunting but I enjoyed it as there were lots of grasses, albeit some were too sharp, for support.

It started to become uncomfortably colder  at this part and we wore our jackets until we finished the hike. 

We saw more mossy sections of the forest and I couldn't help marveling at it despite the fatigue and the cold. It was just gorgeous!  What's even better is that even if it rained, I didn't encounter any limatiks (leeches). 

My least favorite part of the trail was this section where we had to do some minor rock climbing. It only takes around 3 big steps to finish it but the foot holds are narrow and slippery. I had a rock climbing accident back in 2009 and I am still traumatized from it. Every time I have to climb over boulders, a feeling of dread overpowers me and it takes a lot out of me to get through it. (Post here)
This section already has ropes you can use for support
After another 5.5 hours, we safely made it to the summit of Mt. Dulang-Dulang. Our views were of surrounding mountains and dense foliage, a delightful view for plant lovers. We took quick shots and then headed to a lesser windy part of the trail for cover as it was so cold.  I shivered the entire time and we rested for  15 minutes to take a quick snack which comprised of grapes, crackers, nuts and chocolates. I wished I brought more food. 
Summit of Mt. Dulang-Dulang
We thought we'd be able to get down within 3 hours but fatigue had set in our group and the pace became unbearably slow. Still, we focused on taking steady, careful steps to avoid injury and further delay.

It was a very long trek down, grueling to the knees but we couldn't afford to stop because it was too cold, it's annoying. By 7:00 PM, I started feeling very sleepy and it felt as though my feet were moving on its own. 
Last group shot at 5:27 PM before it got really dark.
Famished but unable to stop for a break, Joseph and I munched on mint candy while walking.  (and this I have to share, Mentos Eucamint candy is a good emergency food for hikes. It's handy, light and it can suppress hunger. On shorter low altitude hikes, it's the only trail food I bring and it's enough to last me four hours on the trail.) 
Manny's Garden, named after the person who introduced Mt. Kitanglad as a hiking destination
My knees were fine up until we reached this long trail that terminates at the highway in Lantapan. The final two hours of our hike was the toughest on the legs It was a steady, steep trek down in a dirt road that was muddy and had too many lose rocks. It was just agonizing. 

By 11:00 PM, we reached  the main highway where Ben patiently waited for us. In the dark,  empty highway, I changed into dry clothes. Haha! Dinner was at Mindy's, a 24 hour casual restaurant that serves a hefty serving of soft, delicious bulalo (beef in clear stew) for less than 300 Pesos. Mindy's actually has a new name now but locals still refer to its old name. 

I have a bunch of superlatives  in my head that describes what I felt about the hike but to sum it up - it was very grueling yet fulfilling! Would I do it again? Heck no, but I'll most likely go back in any of the two mountains because of its enchanting mossy forests. :) 

Hiking the tallest peaks in the Philippines within a day is something I enjoy doing out of sheer love for jaw-dropping views without being away too long. It's a great way test your endurance and mental strength, gives you more time to enjoy the place where the mountain is and the best thing of all – you have minimal load on your back! 

Several friends, mostly those who were passionate about skyrunning had already done this before and their encouragement, especially that of our best friend Jules and our Bukidnon friend Ben proved to be excellent support in making this possible. Thank you! :) 

My backpack was a 14 Liter light pack that had 3.5 Liters of Gatorade and water which sufficed the entire trek. For snacks, I brought peanuts, a pack of grapes (really good trail food but a bit heavy, well, you'll eat it anyway), chocolates, waterproof jacket, headlamp,extra batteries, power bank, first aid kit, emergency blanket/rain coat, multi tool kit, cap, arm sleeves and gloves which were useful on clinging to sharp grasses. 

Contact Person

Guide/organizer  - Ben Maputi is very much familiar in organizing a one day traverse. He'll make sure you'll be fine.  :) Please CALL to make arrangements at  +63 0936-500-4147 

Other helpful Itineraries & Contact Information 
Sha Bedural - Kitanglad-D2 Traverse with their baby 
Pinoy Mountaineer - Mt. Dulang-Dulang | Mt. Kitanglad

Guide fee - 1,500 Pesos for a full day traverse (I noticed that a good ratio of guide to hiker is 1 guide for two people)  
Climbing Permit - this must be secured at the DENR office in Malaybalay City. We secured ours one day before the climb and it's 170 Pesos for two mountains or 85 Pesos/mountain. 

Hiking Time 
A traverse from Mt. Kitanglad to Mt. Dulang-Dulang may range from 8 hours-16 hours depending on your training and preparation. My mountain inspiration, first Filipino to summit the 7 highest peaks in the world, Romi Garduce did the same route in just 8 hours last November while our group took twice as long. (Here's sir Romi's blog post about their climb).  

As mentioned earlier, I trained my ass off for this hike. After years of hiking, I've learned to never underestimate any mountain - no matter how tall it is.  I wanted to enjoy the trails and not be a liability to anyone. I specifically focused on the thigh and knee area which is needed in negotiating steep ascents and descents. I also loaded on protein weeks ahead. It's really depends on what your body needs but for me, protein loading works better than filling myself with carbs.  Training climbs are also ideal but I wasn't able to do much of those due to schedule issues. 

Upon arrival in Bukidnon, basic supplies can be bought at Gaisano mall; buses from CDO pass by this area. 

Travel Information 

How to get to Bukidnon
From Manila, take a plane to Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental. Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have early morning flights.
How to get to CDO from the airport : Airport Shuttle from Laguindingan Airport to CDO 
From CDO, take public transportation to Agora Bus Terminal. Buses to Bukidnon are 24 hours. Fee : 145 Pesos, aircon bus, travel time : 2.5-3 hours. 
Once in Malaybalay, you can ride a multi-cab to the DENR station - 7 Pesos/head. 

Where to Stay in Malaybalay City
My room at 1st Avenue Apartelle
1st Avenue Apartelle 
Address: Propia Street, Malaybalay City
Tel No. (088) 221-3224 or 0926-432-5382
Click here to book via Agoda.
*You can get a useful map of Malaybalay city at the reception. 

Helpful Resource : Check out other accommodation options at Suroy Pilipinas blog.

Past adventures

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