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.

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