Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pico De Loro (664m) - I was almost there...

Ternate, Cavite
Major jump-off: Magnetic Hill, Ternate
LLA: 14° 12.855 N; 120° 38.785 E; 664 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 2-5 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3

Sign from DENR
After the Mount Sembrano experience, our team decided to be real serious with mountaineering, so just a month after, we decided to climb another mountain. I could hardly remember what happened last year but for some good reasons our team decided to climb Pico De Loro - a really famous mountain located in the bounderies of Ternate and Maragondon Cavite. Pico De Loro was dubbed as the "highest peak" in Cavite and is really famous because of its "Parrot's beak like appearance" which is really visual especially with people travelling on the sea across Manila Bay. Pico De Loro also lies within the DENR protected Maragondon Mountain ranges and is often visited by hikers due to its pristine environment, awesome summit view, and its challenging "Monolith rock" which can only be climbed by experienced climbers and must be negotiated with a rope.

Our team pushed for a dayhike and we met at 7/11 Lawton , Manila at exactly 0430 and waited for a bus going to Ternate, Cavite. Unfortunately, it was already 0500 and there were still no signs of Saulog Buses travelling to Ternate, so our team decided to just ride a bus headed for Trece Marites, Cavite and got off at the split road near SM Bacoor, Cavite. Our team waited for 30 minutes. just to wait for the Bus going to Maragondon and this time, we are more than I expected - we were composed of 15 members and this proves that a lot of people are really into this sport. The bus ride took 45 minutes before we reached the coastal town of Ternate where we hired a trike to take us to DENR station. If i can still remember, the trike fare were around 150-200 PHP per trike and a single trike can carry 4 of us.

First campsite
HUGE log

It was already 0800 when we arrived at DENR so we all registered right away, did a little exercise and proceeded with the hike. We started by walking back since DENR station was a little way too ahead after the start trails. Our hike started by passing thru a hill wherein real rough mountain roads welcomed us. We passed thru this hill and went down after 20 minutes of hiking wherein we need to take a hold of some roots because it's a little steep. After a little steep descent, we encountered a really HUGE log on our way and our group stopped to take lots and lots of pictures with the fallen log. Not long after the fallen log, our group reached the first campsite wherein we need to pay again for another registration fee. After a quick break, Our team moved on and this time, we passed thru small creeks, bamboo forests, and eroded trails until we reached the sign board "Pico De Loro" and i believe the place was called Alibangbang park. There was a fork road along the sign and the left trail leads to the famous falls and the straight one leads to the peak itself. 

Alibangbang Park

Eroded trails

We decided to head for the peak before we proceed to the falls and the trails started to elevate gradually until such time, it became a little steep again. We managed to hike upto the campsite for 2 hours due to lots of stopovers because almost all of us are new. There was a crowd at the campsite and it's really hard to find a place to stay and have lunch since we dont have tents with us, but good thing there was a spot below bamboo trees were we happily ate our lunch. After a few minutes later, our team decided to go to the summit. The trail of the summit from our campsite looks really scary because it is really steep wherein one needs to hold on to roots and balance himself thru loose rocks. Only a few of us made it to the summit and unluckily i wasn't one of them, my old frictionless rubber shoes which i also wore last Mount Sembrano climb didn't allow me to. I went back to the campsite feeling really frustrated because i wasn't given the chance to see the summit view, but even defeated i promised myself that i will be back in the near future to conquer its summit. 

Whew! the peak!
We left at exactly 1400, and managed to go to the falls which was another dissapointment, because there was no water coming down for its dry season and the water is really muddy. After the dissapointing day for me, Our team started to go back since its almost twilight and the last trip for the bus headed to Manila will leave at exactly 1900. After reaching the first campsite, we took a left turn after the HUGE log and hurried back to DENR to fix ourselves and headed back home. On our way back to the bus station, we asked for the trike driver to stop at what they call "Magnetic Hill" to see if things are really being pulled upwards. Well, i believe it was just an optical illusion since the whole place was full of curves. We hurriedly took the Manila bound Bus and arrived at exactly 2100 in Manila

Our Itinerary

0430 - Meet up at 7/11 Lawton, Manila
0500 - ETD Manila, via bus going to Bacoor, Cavite
0600 - ETA SM, Bacoor, waited for a Bus to Ternate
0720 - ETA Ternate Cavite, took trike to DENR (Magnetic hill)
0800 - ETA DENR Office, Register and change attire.
0815 - Started trek
0900 - Huge Log (take pictures)
0930 - First Campsite (register again)
1030 - Alibangbang Park
1300 - Campsite before summit (Lunch mode)
1345 - Summit, take pictures
1400 - Descent to Alibangbang park
1530 - Alibangbang park, take left turn to falls
1545 - Falls
1630 - First Campsite (Rest a bit)
1700 - Trail Fork near the HUGE log (took the upper left trail to DENR)
1800 - DENR (wash up)
1830 - Bus station (Ternate)
2100 - ETA Manila


*There is a confusing fork just after the campsite near the HUGE log, you need to take the upper left trail, since the main trail leads to Maragondon, Cavite.
*The falls is usually dry during summer, dissapointment is expected.
*There a lot of huge campsites within the trail - First campsite, Alibangbang Park, and the campsite before the summit.
*Ternate buses are rare in lawton, best to wait for them in Baclaran.
*The last trip for Manila bound bus in Ternate is usaully 7pm.
*The Monolith (Huge rock beyond the peak) needs to be climbed with caution since ropes are needed and rock slid is possible.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mount Sembrano (745m+) - Where it all began

Mount Sembrano
Pililia, Rizal
Major jump-off: Brgy. Hall of Malaya, Pililla
LLA: 14°23'10"N; 121°21'57" E; 745 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 3-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Views of Laguna Lake and Southern Tagalog mountains

Mount Sembrano look from the barangay hall
Barangay Malaya

It was 8 years ago when the thought of climbing mountains suddenly rang inside my head. I am amazed everytime i see the Sierra Madre Mountains when I visit the Church of Antipolo and stumbled upon the idea of exploring beautiful places, being one with nature, and sharing the experience with my friends. A year ago, I was given the opportunity to do so. It was February when my officemates agreed to start climbing mountains and out of nowhere we chose to climb Mount Sembrano which is located within the helm of Jala-Jala, Pililia Rizal and Pakil, Laguna. I have little idea on what are the things to be considered when climbing a mountain like items that are needed when climbing, budget and itinerary, and what to expect from a certain moutain to be climbed - "since every moutain has its own unique characteristics and difficulties".

Our Team - (from left to right) Me, Aids, Shiela, and Ben

Our team met at 7/11 Shaw right in front of Shangrila and rode a jeepney to Tanay, Rizal and it took us 1 1/2 hours before we reached the town proper. We took a quick breakfast in one of the "Karinderyas" near the jeepney terminal before we proceed to barangay Malaya, Pililia Rizal - the jump off. We arrived exactly at 0900 and we registered at the barangay hall right away - if im not mistaken, registration fee is around 10-20 pesos, and with little knowledge on moutaineering during that time I was only equipped with rubber shoes, jogging pants, t-shirt, packed lunch, extra clothes, and a little faith. We started at around 0930 and passed thru cemented roads and houses along the way. The cemented road were later replaced by rough ones with water pipes and people on horses going up and down the mountain. After an hour, we finally stopped at the so called "Tree House" and rested for a bit. I have no water discipline during that time, so i have to bring 5 liters of water and I easily drank a liter of it during this stop. The hike continues and we took a right turn by the tree house and continued our journey, however instead of taking the new "safe" trail, we found ourselves lost and took the much steeper "near the cliff trail" which really tested our new legs until we arrived at the first campsite. We rested for a bit and went directly to the summit, here our "kalbaryo" began. 

View from the real summit
Summit view from "First Summit"


The thinking of a rough wide trail suddenly stopped as we found ourselves almost crawling through the steep narrow trails wherein one wrong move will cost your life because of the cliff just right beside you. I was really getting left behind due to my old rubber shoes which is hardly showing any grip as i pass from rock to rock, besides that i even have 3 consecutive leg cramps due to the fact that im exerting too much effort on my legs just to have more grip. After an hour and a half of tormenting ascent, we found ourselves crawling up again towards what we called "first summit" because of the summit like appearance and large space wherein it can hold lots of tents. My physical self tells me that i can't move on and the realization that mountaineering isn't really that fun at all came across my mind. Part of myself really want to back off and go down but then, my heart tells me to move on and reach for the reason why I was there in the first place. Tired, bruised, beaten, and BURNED -"the trail towards the summit doesn't have tree cover" I forced my self to go for the goal and in a click I find myself in the summit. There was a long silence when we arrived at the summit for I was in disbelief that I really made it and the view, one word - WOW! it was so cool!!! We have views of mountains like, Mount Banahaw, Mount Kalisungan, Mount Cristobal, Mount Makiling, Mount Tagapo, and the Sierra Madre mountain ranges. It was the first time I experienced such feeling and all the pain was really worth it. These views explains why I'm so much into hiking.

Manggahan Falls
After we took lunch, rested a bit, and sent a prayer up, we then proceeded back to the first campsite and it was much easier than it was going up. We arrived at manggahan campsite at around 1530 and we visited Manggahan falls where we took a cold dip and drank its refreshing waters. We hurried back to the barangay and this time we took the right trail down. We were down at exactly 1830 and we cleaned ourselves and headed back to Manila. We were back at exactly 2000 and slept like there is no tommorow.

Our Itinerary:

0600 - Meet up at 7/11 Crossing, and took Tanay bound jeep.
0730 - ETA Tanay, breakfast and took Pililia bound jeep.
0900 - ETA Brgy. Malaya. Register in Barangay hall.
0930 - Start Hike
1000 - Manggahan Campsite
1130 - End of Forest
1200 - Second Campsite "First Summit"
1245 - Mount Sembrano Summit, Lunch and Photoshoot!
1330 - Descend back to Manggahan Campsite
1530 - Manggahan Campsite (Visit Falls)
1830 - Back at barangay hall, tidy up!
2000 - ETA Manila.


*The trail after the treeline is extremely bare, so Suncover/Protection is a must.
*There were still reports of thieves/holdupers around the area, so precaution is required.
*Trails are more steeper after the Manggahan campsite.