Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mt. Makiling - Los Baños, Laguna - March 2012

Setting Expectations. Mt. Makilng, Peak 2, UP Forestry trail.
1090 MASL, Approximately 4hours of hike and limatiks. Basically, thats what I expected from this, my first 1 thousand meters above sea level climb. Admittedly, I paid less mind and preparation seeing Geralds photos of a seemingly easy wide rough road trail. But none the less I was excited, a bit nervous as my knees and ankles were oddly giving out signs of pinches of pains a few days before the hike. (and previous disclaimer still applies)
The Story Tell.
4AM - 5AM - Cubao to Alabang Starmall Ordinary bus, P50
About 6AM - 7AM - Bus to Laguna from Alabang Star mall P59
I had to wait for Gerald and we needed to fill up for trail food before boarding an Ordinary Bus, bound to Sta. Cruz Laguna. 

730AM - 750AM - Jeep to Forestry P8
**Board off at Robinsons, where a nearby jeep station is located. Before taking the UP College Jeeps, ask if they will pass by the Forestry. If you made the mistake of boarding off at Olivarez like we did, make a handsign at passing jeeps (UP COLLEGE); with your index finger raised, much like a number 1- (peace sign without the middle finger), to swiftly inquire if it will go to the extent of the UP College of Forestry.

Theres a canteen in one of the dorms where you can have your breakfast. The Makiling Residence Hall.

830AM - Register at the Rangers station P10, Start Trek.
In my observation of the UPLB Peak 2 trail, it can be broken down into:
  • The Approach - Vehicles, mostly jeeps, SUVs and motorcycles are able to navigate through this wide rough road starting from the Ranger's Station, passing through the Tayabak Campsite, all the way to Agila Base. As per Gerald, UP allowed this road to be unmaintained as part of the Mountains recovery, hence, for most parts, devastated pavements. 
  • The Trail - After Agila Base, the path becomes significantly narrow and dense with vegetation, hence the beginning of the real hike.
  • The Assault - You'll realise that the trail crawls to an ascent at around Station 21 or so.
  • Side trips - Trails leading to Flatrocks and Mudspring.
Photo courtesy of
830AM - 1030AM - After 2 hours of relaxed rough road walking, We were able to reach the end of The Approach, Agila Base. At this point, we started covering up for Limatiks.
As per Gerald, the last time he did Makiling, weather was really bad. It was almost zero visibility, with fog constricting vision, limiting it at only a few feet away. He hiked for 4 hours and was only able to reach Station 13.

1030AM - 12PM - We arrived at Station 15, The Malaboo Campsite, also where The Wilderness Zone Begins.

The trail was muddy and infested by Commando Limatiks, as they just drop from the trees and surprisingly, on ones hands, arms, face, neck and other exposed areas. They also crawl from your shoes and backpack, so the longer you stay in one place, the more you risk exposing yourself to these annoying creatures. 
You'll know you're about 30mins to 1hour away from the summit when you encounter ropes and ladders and had it rained the night before, if not at the moment, a more challenging MUDDY Trail.

3PM - Summit.
I was smiling, staring at the nothingness of the grasses surrounding the small spot of the summit while seated on my half mud covered shoes and pants. It was a crazy 6.5 hours climb. 4hours must have been intended for those who are fit and climb at rapid rates like those we encountered along the way towards descent, at a running pace. Reflecting, I was not as optimistic that my ankle and knees will further cooperate, so I opened up a pack of Salonpas Pain Relief pads and placed them where i needed some comfort. We took some rest then ate our late lunch. We were on our way down after staying at the summit for an hour.

412PM - 607PM - Realising it will take almost the same number of hours we climbed, to go down, we increased the speed of our pace and we're at The Wilderness Zone sign at Station 15 5minutes earlier than projected. We were already using our head lamps before 6PM cracked. 5minute rest, Still paranoid and checking for Limatiks every now and then.

612PM - 640PM - Back at Agila Base.

Trekking The Approach, We had to change our footwears to slippers at the first Store we saw as our feet were already sore from the hike and the Toe torture from the descent. 

Around 8PM, we were able to make it past the Tayabak Campsite and stopped over at the still-open Sari sari store. We shared an RC cola 1.5 Litre (P25) and was able to negotiate two motorcycle rides (P100 each) to the Rangers station where we cleaned up (Free use of restroom and unlimited hot spring water) and had the same motorcycles transfer us to the entrance of UPLB (additional P30+20 as tip).

  • Bring a headwear that will protect you from direct contact with Limatiks when they fall from the trees. Given that, its a No-no to come in shorts without leggings. Hence be buggered to disgust by these guys. Conduct regular self checks. They say that Off lotion prevents limatiks from biting, might be worth a try as well.
  • 3L of water, lots of trail food and reward yourself with a 500ml coke up the summit.
  • Weather constantly changes up Makilng, so best bring your rain protection and in case you encounter the same ordeal as we did, headlamps.
P8 - Jeep to Olivarez (No more buses)
P18 - Jeep to Crossing
P49 - Bus from Crossing to Alabang
P50 - Bus to Ortigas

Approximate Expense : P427
*Not including Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner, Trail Food and Water.

Some wreckage along The Approach.

Where the real Trail begins.

A Flexible Limatik. 
Gerald Reviewing our location.

A limatik sucking a piece of me. 
Cairns. Trail Marker.

Dont make the mistake of hanging about these branches. Not a pleasant experience. :)

1090MASL. At the Summit.

In Conclusion:
I can only imagine that the UPLB Trail is only 1/3rd the ordeal for those who take the Maktrav route, which is known to be a difficult climb. But for us with poor fitness levels, we already find the UPLB trail very physically and psychologically challenging. The Approach will test your patience. The Assault will knock you off your prejudices and reservations. You're body will complain.. back, ankle and knees will all hurt. When I was up the summit, I heard myself, regretting the climb and never wanting to ever climb again, or at least take a long rest before taking the next. But then again, these challenges are the ones that really detaches us from our ideals and comfort zones. That make us suffer and learn. That which separates us and connects us again to reality, humbled, renewed and refreshed. All which, for my self at least.

I will be back with Gerald to visit Mt. Makiling. Next time, stronger, better and at an ideal pace.

Limatik score: 11 were identified before they were able to bite, and were swiftly flicked off and 5 were able to successfully penetrate their purpose.