First Summit: Mt. Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas

Monday, August 19, 2013

Remember my post last January about my dream to climb a mountain? If not read it here. I wanted to climb a mountain for so long but somehow find all the excuses not to. I know, I know. But then Midterms came up and we were asked to do a travelogue. I just knew in my heart that this is the right moment to climb my first summit. Unfortunately, it's hard to find a travel buddy who's courageous enough to climb it with me and at such short notice. You also have to find someone who has a good stamina. Naturally, I also wanted someone na hindi maarte. Ay naku. Pet peeve ko yan. First person who came to mind was my good friend, Arn and I was so right about him! Turns out he's been wanting to climb a mountain since forever like yours truly, too.

So I made travel plans and we pushed through and braved the crazy weather with Storm Labuyo about to hit our way and Signal Number 1 was already announced for Batangas and Cavite. But brave hearts and bad asses we were! 

We chose Batulao because of the proximity and the budget of course. From the blogs I read, it was a good mountain to climb for beginners like us. You can also check out our expenses at the bottom of the post.

Tips on what to bring/wear for a day hike:
·         Water (1L or more)
·         Jacket
·         Sturdy slip-ons
·         Alcohol
·         Extra plastic bag (for trash)
·         Extra shirt and shorts/pants
·         Packed lunch
·         Sense of adventure

From Robinson's Dasmarinas, we also bought lunch in a nearby McDonald's there to bring as baons. we were having a hard time finding a bus going to Nasugbu that wasn't SRO (Standing room only--hehe.) Guess we're both maarte that way. Haha. From Rob Dasma, we took a bus to Mahogany Market in Tagaytay and rode another bus in front of the market going to Nasugbu.

Next, we had our bus drop us off at Evercrest Golf Course in Nasugbu (it was just a few meters away from "Welcome to Nasugbu" sign) and from there we took a tricycle to the jump off point at the foot of Mt. Batulao. Since we're both first timers it is necessary to hire a guide for the ascent. I was surprised to find out tour guide fee increased from around Php 200 to 400 because all the travel blogs we researched still had the 200. Turns out the local government standardized the fees and had the guides are now required to wear I.D's and tags and have to be above 18 y.o. Bawal na ang kiddie guides (some of them I read are as young as 12 y.o.) Then we began our traverse towards the summit at 11 am.

(Please don't expect to see the green mountains because just like I said, we went there on a rainy Sunday.)

The view at the foot of the mountain. All greens.

With Aljon, our guide.  Nahiya naman kami sa bilis niya. Ni hindi hiningal. LOL. You can climb Mt. Batulao with the Old (harder) and New route. Of course we took the new one since we were just there for a day hike and we need to get down asap because of the weather.

The hardest part of the climb for me is not going through the peaks but walking from the foot of the mountain going up the first peak. It was so muddy! I'm telling you, I slide like 3 times! But I welcomed every fall. It was an experience I needed and wanted to have. The mud looks "clean" anyway (like mud can ever be clean at all.) At least lupa, hindi burak gaya ng baha sa Metro Manila.

At the first part, I decided to go bare foot to maximize the experience. (Tip: Get your nails cut before the climb but don't get a full-on mani/pedi's)

I also wrote before that the reason I started running was because I wanted to improve strength for my future climb. E kaso nga before I climbed, I stopped running for months na. I'm telling you, my legs and arms were really, really sore after.

Some stops have buko, halo-halo and soft drinks for refreshments and in case you forgot or are saving your water for the rest of the climb. 

For me, the longest distance was from the foot of the mountain to Peak 1. Again, I am blaming all that mud. We reached peak 1 at 12 noon.

The steep roads were definitely a challenge. Here's our guide probably complaining in his head how slow we were! Haha! Kasi naman for first timers syempre more pictures diba. Haha. But Aljon was a good sport naman and was very patient with us.  :)

Sa lagay na 'to we were kind of in a hurry because Labuyo was coming but we still took our time. Roads are slippery and safety is still our first concern. We just thanked God that it did not rain during our actual climb, and it just drizzled after.

An abandoned hut/house.

Other mountaineers stationed their tents in a space between peak 7 and 8. What I also love about the climb is that people--locals and fellow mountaineers are so friendly. You always get a "Magandang Umaga/Hapon po" or "Ingat po paakyat" along the way coming from them. It's like you have a connection with the people here which made me feel comfortable and safe enough feeling like you know that people will be there when you need help in case something happens (God forbid).

We've reached the infamous peak 8. Back in 2011, a woman fell to her death at this peak. We "interviewed" a Manong who lived in Peak 8 for a bit and he said he's one of the guys who helped lift the body. She's allegedly a first timer as well who climbed together with her officemates. They took the Old trail to the summit and went there with the only guide they have was one of their friends (the only guy in the group) who climbed the mountain before. She got too excited daw upon learning that they're almost near the summit, hastened her footsteps and fell. So Manong warned us to really take the time we need and not rush ourselves going to the summit.

Chickens owned by the Manong in peak 8. O diba? Doesn't she look healthy? Ang cute cute ang ta-taba nila. Haha! At least you know they're given non-artificial food up there. Here in peak 8 is also where mountaineers register their names and pay Php 20 registration fee. It's another 20 if you plan to go down on the old trail. But since we only hiked using the New Trail, it's just a one time registration payment for us.

Cute kid goats.

The real challenge of the climb really started with peak 8. Peak 12 is the last peak before you reach the actual summit and it's 10-15 minute walk from it to the top.

A rock somewhere in peak 11.

No, I didn't really climb this rock. Pa-effect lang yan. Teehee.

Just look at this way going to the top! There were really some parts na gusto ko na lang gumapang. Haha! Going down, there were some parts I chose to slide down because I don't trust my knees. I have a very poor sense of balance (Yes, why did I ever climb a mountain in the first place?)

Not much flowers up there but Mother Nature sure made their colors vibrant. 

And at last we made it to the summit at 3pm. Did I regret climbing at this weather with nothing to see but clouds? Hell no. I love that we were actually in the midst of clouds. I love that my legs were aching because I used them for something adventurous. I loved everything about it. It's not just about the view after all. Getting to the summit is my reward. Climbing at this weather made us prepared for the worse next time. 

With brother from another mother, Arn. 

Mountaineers usually eat lunch at the summit but we preferred to eat cupcakes instead since we don't want to feel heavy going down and we are dreading going down. We wished we could zipline our way down the mountain. Ha! By the way, we left summit at 3:45 and was back at the bottom at around 6. Had we not taken lunch when we got back on peak 8 and took a "buko" break it would've been a shorter time.

Deserve na deserve ko ang selfie na 'to after that long climb! 

I'm one messy kid after the climb. Look at me! Apparently, my sense of balance was really poor that my way of climbing is up, down and slide. Teehee. Kidding aside, if you go there, the trails really are up and down, up and down. Makitid pa yung ibang daan, then bangin left and right. I probably would've backed out if the climb involves rapelling (using ropes to hoist myself up/down) but since it doesn't, I welcome the challenge of the slippery trails.

Back at the jump off point you can pay locals so you can take a bath/wash off on one of their houses for a fee which we did after. You can't possibly expect us to ride the bus looking like we do! The driver and bus conductor would probably give us the killer eye. 

Honestly, I almost chickened out because in reality, I really don't imagine myself climbing a mountain. Sure, climbing a mountain sounds so cool but when I picture out everything, I was terrified! But then I told myself, on that rainy Sunday morning that if I won't do it today, I probably won't be able to do it ever. It's like having a kid or something, that you can't ever be truly prepared for moments like this. You just have to suck it up and do it. You know what? It was harder than I thought it was. But like I said, this will prepare me for other harder trails ahead. We were both walking like old people the day after but what I love about Arn (who is like a dear brother to me) is that for us, this wasn't a "We've checked it on our bucket list, now we can move on" kind of climb. We are now talking about other mountains to climb, going overnight for a full experience, to climb Mt. Pico de Loro and invite other friends (na hindi maarte!) and/or to climb Mt. Batulao on a good weather next time. I really recommend mountain climbing to you. It's a different kind of experience, one of the most unforgettable in my life. You are more one with nature and you'll never feel more alive (with all the pain and everything.) and you'll get your limits tested. 

You also get to appreciate life more. While some were probably complaining of having poor cell signal or other trivial things like that, think of the families living here who have to walk up and down the mountain to go to school, or to the city and who don't have a decent bath room (yes! you do have to squat in some cases) or have to get water in the wells and yet they do not complain. They were thankful to have the electricity of course. Ah, the simplicity of life. People here are so used to hard work, mahihiya ka. (Well, ako. Haha!)

Isa pa at huling rason, baka magtampo ang mga bundok kasi puro kayo beach. :)

Here's our Batulao budget for that day in case you're all interested:

Bus (Robinson Dasma to Nasugbu)    --- around 70
Lunch (but you can pack your own)   --- around 80
Tricycle (from Evercrest to jump off and back) ---  25 X 2 =50 Php
Buko                                                   --25
Mountain guide                                  -- 400
Water fee (To wash yourself at jump-off)—20 for wash and 30 if you want to take a bath.
Bus (Evercrest to St. Dominic/Talaba/Zapote) – 96
Jeep (St. Dominic Hospital to Jollibee Molino)  -- 13
                                                Total:  Php 742/752 (with bath)

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