Climbing Mt. Batulao [❁]

Friday, July 17, 2015

Just last week, I had this rare chance to climb up a mountain, as an amateur mountaineer. I have a colleague at the office whose one of her passions is hiking, and she encouraged us to join her on this climb. I know of friends who also do this as a hobby but it really did not stick to me the essence of all of it. But now I finally understand.




Reaching the summit was priceless. It was a very fulfilling moment. But before we got to reach that point, the body torture was no joke.


The Journey to Batulao
My teammate was so kind to let us stay at their house and use one of their rooms on Friday night so that we could all be up early the next morning for the travel. Before Saturday's dawn we were already traveling to Batangas where Mt. Batulao is located. It was my first time to go hiking in a long time (I think the last one was during in college for our CWTS) so I needed to prepare a lot for this climb. I even bought new shoes (which is so far the most expensive purchase that I've ever done for just shoes!!!).

It was worth it though. These shoes made the climb easier. :D
Hiking Checklist
- water (at least 1.5L), you would really get thirsty during the climb!
- gatorade
- gummy worm and cola candies, which you can nibble throughout the climb (to sustain energy, as per my officemate's advice)
- trashbags, for cover up on your backpack (if it's not waterproof in case it rains) and as container for wet clothes and other trash
- clean set of clothes, to change with after the climb
- bath things (bring body wash for convenience!)
- raincoat
We also bought bamboo sticks for walk support. A lot of the locals there sell them, each worth Php10.00. You might think you won't need this. Believe me, it will make the hiking much easier!

The Climb
We started to ascend the mountain at around 7AM. We had a local guide with us to lead us on the trail in the mountain. There are actually two trails in Mt. Batulao - the old and the new trail. The new one is the easier one. Because there were beginners in the team (that includes me!), we chose the easier one. :D

The weather was a bit gloomy that day, which I thought was alright because it felt cooler and we didn't sweat that much during the early parts of the trek.

We're not even halfway but I'm seeing great views already.
There were a lot of stop overs during the climb. Good thing the locals built wooden chairs on some points along the trail. It felt so good to sit down for a bit after the uphill climbs! There were also wooden huts there and the locals were selling food there, like melon juice, halo-halo, even goto and lugaw - perfect for hungry and tired hikers!


There were horses up the mountains! We actually met a lot of them during the climb. It's the locals' means to bring up resources to people who were living up the mountains. Most of the horses that we met were carrying two containers, hanging on both sides of its body. Because the trails were very steep, we had to give way to the horses in several occasions so that they could pass through first. It was a bit of an inconvenience for us, because we sometimes had to go down again on an uphill path just to make way for the horses. ε-(´・`) Because a lot of those horses pass the trails throughout the day, it was unsurprising to see a LOT of poops along the path. It was one of the challenges in the climb, to avoid stepping on these landmines. xD

It was foggy during the first parts of the climb, which was a good thing I guess because we didn't see much of the cliff which was just a side-step away from the trail.(゜◇゜)There were actually dangerous spots along the path that one wrong step will make you fall down the cliff! I specifically remember one point in the trail that I almost lost my balance. Fortunately my reflexes acted and I was able to cling onto the rocks. Goodness knows what could have happened if I failed to do that.

One of the fun parts for me during the climb was the rappelling part! I was actually a bit worried before this hiking day that I won't have the strength to pull my body up using the ropes, but I was able to do it! Yay. (゜▽゜;) I used to do rappelling for CWTS during college and I really enjoyed it (save for that aussie rappelling ><) so I guess there were still something left in me of the skills I gained during that time. :D

My colleague thought me some breathing techniques to not get tired easily especially during uphill trails. She said I should be breathing in a particular pattern once I start to pant, and then breath deeply to slow down my heart beat rate. It was a bit difficult to follow this at first, but I felt it really helped!


Reaching the Summit
It was amazing. It was very fulfilling to reach the top of the mountain! Actually the first few minutes, there were nothing but fog.

our hiking group resting at the summit

me at the top of the world!!! (well just of Mt Batulao hehehe)
*excuse the haggard face* xD

Good thing after a few minutes, the fog cleared up and we saw this amazing view.

We saw a 360-degree view of Batangas!


A photo posted by Kathleen R (@katalinarosario) on

Seeing how high we were, I could not believe I actually climbed all of that to reach this spot! We stayed for at least 30 minutes at the summit, just enjoying the view and taking photos.

There were lots of these yellow bugs at the summit.

It's at the summit that I met this local stray dog. I think it's used to climbing this mountain and following the people. He approached every person he found eating food and just stood near them and looked longingly at them. Of course the people could not resist this cute dog, so everyone was giving  him treats.

He didn't like mushroom fries though.

The Descend
After absorbing the great scenery at the summit and having a recharging rest, we decided it's time to go down. That's when it began to become foggier, and soon raindrops fell. Good thing I bought a raincoat! The rain fell harder as we walked down. I could see the fog (or were they clouds?) slowly approaching the mountains.

I don't know but the climb down felt way easier than the climb up. Maybe because the sense of fulfillment gave me energy and I was just enjoying my time walking down. Because of the rain, the path grew muddy and slippery. Good thing none of us in the group got on a major sliding accident (well except me I guess but I intentionally went on a slide because it was easier to just sit and make my way down! Haha! #mudslidemode

By that time we were already meeting a lot of people going up. It was so nice because people were saying their 'good morning!' and 'ingat po tayo!' (be careful!) greetings to locals and fellow climbers that they meet. I felt that hikers have a very kind culture. I'm not used to this so I was just smiling awkwardly. xD

All in all it took us 5 hours to climb up and down Mt. Batulao.  It was already noon time when we reached the starting point again. We took a bath at the foot of the mountain to clean up (we were all dirty because of the mud, and wet because of the rain!) and then traveled to a nearby restaurant to eat a hearty lunch! I swear after the climb, all the food tasted really great! Maybe because I was already so tired and hungry at that time.


Reflections
I learned a lot from this climb. It was a tough test of endurance and patience. I learned to take things one step at a time, to not look up so you won't be overwhelmed of how much high and far you still need to climb, and also to not look down so that you won't be that scared of the cliff and of the heights. All you have to focus is the now -  the current path you are stepping on, extending to a few more steps beyond to help prepare for you next actions.

The climb also exercised my mind, I guess, through strategic problem solving. As you walk, you were constantly deciding where to best place your foot along the path.

I also learned to push myself to my limits. There were moments when I wanted to just stop and rest because my leg muscles were already screaming in pain, but I had to endure it and just go on with the climb. And then I realized I could actually make it to the top. And it felt great.


I would definitely want to climb another mountain again. There are lots of mountains here in the country so I have a lot to choose from. Thanks to pinoymountaineer.com for helping me set my expectations for this climb. Mt. Batulao is rated 4/9 in terms of difficulty. I guess I want my next climb to be a bit below that level. xD I hope me and my officemates can arrange something again.

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