Feb 12, 2011

Field Report: Mt. Manabu - First Climb for 2011

Mt. Manabu Dayhike (4)
Sto. Tomas, Batangas
January 22, 2011
Climb participants: Me as guide and with a climb mate we can call JM

Rain…. Check.
For 2011 I have set a goal of not climbing the same mountain that I have climbed before, allocating the scarce resources to exploration of new heights. This became a disadvantage as it leaves me with very few options for a climb. So just to do an exercise hike to get the groove back (my last real climb was in Mt. Sembrano – November 2010), I invited a climb recruit to do a Mt. TALAMITAM-Mt. BATULAO double dayhike. These mountains are proximate with each other, and it presents climb economy to do two mountains in a day, even though I have been to these two quite a number of times already.

Friday night, it was raining non-stop. I failed to do some groceries as the heavy rain stopped an hour after the mall closed. No baon for me. We also agreed beforehand that if by midnight the rain is still pouring heavy, we have to have a rain check on the climb. Lols.

can i go? (no, walang bantay sa haus)

Better Late Than Never
Hey, it’s a nice adage right? I got to test my patience and maturity, when the worst fear during climb meet ups actually happen. After I dozed off for a few hours, hurriedly packed and took a cab (yes, I took a cab) to Taft bus terminal. So after arriving there I had a hearty breakfast while enduring the high-pitched voice of a man singing a female song in the videoke inside the carinderia. Sigh.

Already an hour almost and I haven’t heard from my buddy. I bought cellphone load, and after more than 20 missed calls I considered her as a lost cause. Oh well. Maybe JM changed her mind. What surprised me is how calmly I took it and went to devise a backup plan.

I decided to do Mt. MANABU-Mt. MACULOT, since I don’t want to go to Mt. Talamitam on my own. I then proceeded to LRT Buendia for Lipa-bound buses. Along SLEX, JM called. As suspected she overslept. I have no intention of letting her make-up for it, but she told me in her most “kagigising lang” voice that she already packed and that she looked forward to this weekend.

And I knew how excited she was and what she gave up for this. Okay, hop along.

And Finally
Arriving in Fiesta Mall at 7:30am, I have no expectations since JM left Cubao just about the same time. Sleeping on the sidewalk is tempting… but the security of my bag kept me from doing so. Surfing the net, window shopping. Then finally I saw her by the mall door by 10am.

waiting in vain?
Transport to the jumpoff is not that easy when you are new here, and you let it show. Tricycle drivers are expert in overcharging fares for short distances. I paid P80 the last time, solo trip. I haggled P80 for the two of us, one wouldn’t relent. Another hyena-like happily took another man’s meal and willingly agreed for P80 (the return will cost you P15only).

Not a soul is in the baranggay, we just opened the door and listed ourselves. JM mistakenly sent the tricycle away, thinking this is already the jumpoff. I shouted out to the driver to return for which he did.

Where's our guide?
Me of course! My last climb here was August 2010, a training hike for Mt. Napulak. I climbed solo, and was amazed I didn’t get lost along the way. Well almost. And I hiked to the summit via Mang Pirying and went down via grotto in a matter of three and a half hours. I remembered almost trail running for my life, it was already getting dark and I don’t like the idea of me and the mountain in the dark.

We started a slow pace which gradually slowed more as we are getting deep into the forest. Wait! I don’t remember this… I remember that, etc. Too much brouhaha about the trail led to confusion much. I decided to take the assault trail that looked dense. I hate backtracking... I prefer moving forward and bushwacking if needed be.

So off we went, and then I realized that the trail is ridge-like. That gave me confidence. I knew instinctively that on my left is the grotto trail and on my right is Mt. Malipunyo, so there’s no way but up going to Mang Pirying’s place. Checking on JM she looked a bit worried (it’s her first time here and she had not-so-pretty experiences with me in the mountains).

The dense trail led to a wider and more established one, which added to my kumpiyansa that we were indeed on the right track. But my heart sank as it grew dense again. A sighting of a kubo gave me relief.

We rested bonggang bongga in Mang Pirying’s hut. Of course, how can we forget to ask for his famous coffee? As barter we gave away some trail food. He even lectured us on what “Uragon” really meant. Hehehe.

rest, finally

mang pirying the savvy
Rain followed short when we started the summit assault after almost an hour of rest. In approaching the clearing leading to campsite, we were literally braving the water rushing down the trail. We heard triumphant voices from afar. Must be first timers who are currently enjoying the summit view despite the drizzle.

JM went ahead of me as I was negotiating the muddy trail.  We found a group cooking lunch at the campsite, and a few more on the summit marked by a white cross. We decided to have lunch first on the other side of the campsite. Well, that's lunch for me I guess since JM is not that hungry yet. I took out my Tuna Siopao from 7-11 and gulped down some more of my Gatorade.

Afterwhich we proceeded to the summit despite slight drizzle and no clearing. I took photos of her and none of mine at the white cross marker. I had enough of Mt. Manabu's summit shots and all I want is to descend right away. The trail down to the grotto is slippery as expected, going our way down to the grassland first before finally hitting the forest area.

so i wanted this to appear candid but...

We met several male climbers on our way down. A little chitchat and we proceeded. It's getting late already, and we still intend to do the Mt. Maculot hike. As stated before, I really like this trail descent. I can go down non-stop. But the grotto promises cool water so we spared some time washing ourselves and enjoying the crystal clear water. More photoops for JM.

pasaway na weather: clearing on our way down
We talked of the plans for Mt. Maculot, and our readiness to brave the nighttrek descent of it just to catch the sunset. If we ever get to catch the sunset. It's past half past two already and we are still on our way down. We'll cross the bridge when we get there a.k.a. we'll decide when we're back at the jumpoff.

nice shot

Ok, so I'm not the expert in trail spotting especially if it's already ground level and there are like gazillion paths leading to everywhere. We got lost, and I got to step on bovine poops which really got to my nerves. I was stinking all over.

We finally found our way, and thanks to a local who gave us boiled bananas. We hurried to the jumpoff, and arrived there half past three in the afternoon so we decided to just rest, take our time, drink booze if there's a store nearby peddling it, and really have a looong chat and rest.

We saw several mountaineers at the jumpoff, all preparing for a night trek. I missed camping in a mountain, but I only have a day to spare for minor climbs like this. After both of us had washed up, we proceeded to the brgy. hall on foot to fetch a ride back to Fiesta Mall. This time the ride costed us php10.00 each. We then proceeded to the Lipa bus stop via jeep ride. Thirsting for alcohol we opted to scour the place for cheap bars, found one but got uncomfortable so we set on buying a can of beer at 7-11 and sip it down on our way home.

This is totally refreshing for me, to climb a mountain again. This might not be as grand as I hope for a year starter climb, but definitely worth it considering I have confirmed that my patience has improved. Lols.

Photo credit: Most of shots were from JM's camera.

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