Showing posts with label Mt. Balungao. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mt. Balungao. Show all posts

Mt. Balungao

Fresh from my solo Mt. Zion climb, that mountain-climbing spirit in me was in red alert during that Rizal Day morning. I woke up as early as 4am and was already fully geared up by five thirty, gunning to momentarily depart myself from the conveniences of humanity, go hiking once again. But unlike my other climbs before, this particular climb’s beyond squeezing-time-for-adventure for me. I was about to make a history for myself that has ironically started out as a crazy idea. Being an inexperienced hiker (with a whole lot of other responsibilities) at the start of 2013, to climb 13 peaks throughout the year was a self-challenge I wholeheartedly accepted. That having said, I decided to end my short yuletide sojourn with that Mt. Balungao (my 13th climb) ascent, with a little help from a few friends.

Few hours away from my treasured hometown (San Carlos City), we initially travelled through a Carmen-bound bus, rode a jeepney, attempted but failed a tricycle topload ride (and rather hitched on a pick-up) before finally reaching the base of the inactive volcano we sought in the Municipality of Balungao. The sun was already burning hot up as we reached that certain street leading to the jump-off point. We were all ready to go when the tires of the tricycle we rented got flat just a few meters from the national highway. We decided to take some walk while waiting for some ride so as not to further waste our time waiting. We were lucky however as a delivery pick-up truck agreed to give us a lift after a quick explanation of our inopportune situation. In an instant, the unfortunate event we just faced turned into an advantage on our part―a memorable ride, all for free.  

There’s more to Balungao than its mountain. It’s true that the mountain-ness of the mountain is immeasurable but other things it offers are also worth checking out, especially if you’re not that huge fan of hiking and mountain-climbing. At the jump-off point, other adventure-filled activities were also available for the taking such as their 620-meter-zipline, ATV riding, bungee jumping, etc.  In our case though, reaching the mountain’s peak was the major priority.

The base of Mt. Balungao is a pre-developed adventure recreation park (Balungao Hilltop Adventure), instigated through the efforts of the local government to boost tourism in the province. In fact, rehabilitation of the road leading to the resort was on-going during our visit and construction paraphernalia were scattered alongside the road. Given the natural beauty and its strategic location (which is relatively close to Metro Manila), I think the whole place might turn to a gigantic tourist attraction once the construction of the road and the facilities are fully done.

The sun was already scorching as hell when we reached the resort’s gate. Unfortunate events further unfurled upon us as there were no available guides to accommodate us for the climb which obliged us to wait a little further. Minutes passed and it was a hopeless wait in vain, but not until Kuya Frey-di came to our rescue. And like a lightning sparking the birth of a great fire, my feet’s excitement to hike just burst in flames. Step by step in haste, I knew I was near to fulfilling a once-in-a-lifetime goal―the realization of my dream #13PeaksFor2013 Project. Keeping in mind that I was just a mountain away, I knew there was no room aborting the climb, for any cause, at any cost. And that feeling of finally walking that trail to finally seal that self deal was no less than heaven to me.

The trail was an endless uphill climb. My lungs and ears could not deny the altitude shift with the landscapes on constant change, while partying my eyes with the grandiose gift of nature not everyone could actually have a chance to enjoy. Difficult it is, but we persevered. To cut the long story short, with faith at every step, I (together with five other supportive people who climbed with me during this one despite the fact that hiking wasn’t their thing), managed to set foot to its peak a few hours later  despite the laborious fight against the steep slopes. The #13PeaksFor2013 Project gloriously found itself crossed out from my ambitious bucket list.

The view up there was a lush green landscape and picturesque scenery. For some moments, I freely let the wind and the sun kiss my burnt skin while enjoying at staring such glorious sight that gazes upon me that time. Then again, facing the daylight, bearing a smile of triumph, in an unspeakable feeling of victory, I was but a happy kid. 


The #13PeaksFor2013 Project

All those spontaneous climbs and risky moves during hikes that I did with friends and alone were an evidence of how 2013 turned out to be big time in the realization of my huge fascination for discovery and thrill of adventures, with all those grains of sweats, aching knees, and gasping breaths, all the more. And as I look back at those days on beguilingly elevated lands across the clouds, I’m doing this countdown of my best mountain-y encounters one by one.

13.Mt. Maculot (January 13). They say nothing beats the first time. But then, the seemingly unending treat with every trail I walked from then on makes this at the bottom. Surely the intricate rock formations at the Rockies and the glorious view of a piece of Taal Lake on the sidelines were a win, but then, way to go. There were more of these on the latter climbs.

12. Tayak Hill (May 8). Long walk and a minor climb if you wish. And the deafening silence up there was more than perfect for those who seek peace or solitude in the midst of an open air way above the nearby Laguna towns. The adventure’s still there, minus a huge chunk of that element called danger which probably made the climb less exciting. Nevertheless, the 360 degree view on top with the gloomy view of the devil's mountain in the background is still no less than exceptional.

11. Mt. Manabu (February 16). After that record-breaking 54 minutes to reach the summit with minimal breaks along the trails, this turned out to be one of the most tiring ones I did thus far... which greatly reminds me of how healthy my knees once were and how much weight I have gained from then on. Mountain climbing is a test of mental strength. The first thing that needs to be done is believing that you could be up there. And it’s another thing to be there with that time pressure challenge and yet still with your eyes not missing the grandiose feast. 

10. Jubilee Hill (February 2). Fifteen minutes was all we needed to complete the course. But the whole thing was still memorable in many sorts. In case you’re wondering where it’s located, it’s that hill with bright cross when you happen to see yourself in a night at UPLB.

9. Mt. Romelo (April 11). ..and Buruwisan Falls of course! There is this great deal of pride about trekking at least a portion of the infamous Sierra Madre range and visiting the painfully beautiful but deadly-once-you-come-closer Buruwisan Falls. Though the place has been heavily visited nowadays, it's still a great feeling in knowing that as natural wanderers, we place that flag of pride of being into some place most people do not have a chance of seeing at all.

8. Mt. Kalisungan (January 26). This hike would never be complete without Mang Bino, my all-time favorite guide as of this date. His meekness with each of his tales related to the mountain – from Agot Isidro to Yamashita treasures were one for the books. The last time I heard, his house at the foot of the mountain was burned. Hope he’s fine.

7. Mt. Mabilog (February 23). Getting lost is more fun in Mt. Mabilog, and there were just too many lessons I learned out of this hike – in between those trials in the trails and the joys in very step. Needless to say, getting lost, sometimes mostly define my experience of the outdoors. And there's nothing more surprising than that feeling of refreshment made possible by Lake Pandin, after all those uncharacteristic events that happened that day.

6. Mt. Batulao (November 2). There are basically 7 things I like the most about this mountain. I’ve said it before and I won’t say it again.

5. Mt. Malipunyo (August 21). Honestly, I think I technically failed the #13PeaksFor2013 project because of this failed climb. If my knowledge serves me right, we were only able to reach the first of the mountain’s 3 peaks due to a terrible encounter: stormy howling winds, heavy-pouring rains, thunderbolt and lightning (very very frightening me!) – name it. Indeed, it’s not always a sunny day as we climb, and no matter how much we think and prepared we are, there will come a time when we are faced with so much of what we can take that the best thing to do is to just walk away, for the mean time. After all, getting to the peak is optional, but going home is mandatory. Plus, the mountain will not go anywhere, and there will always be a next time.

And talking about next time..

4. Pico De Loro (January 18). Well this could easily climb the list if we were able to successfully conquer the Monolith. But as they say, there’s always that right time for everything. And trust me, there really is.

3. Mt. Balungao (December 30). The last one I had that year. Dramatically on my very own province. With my beloved high school friends.

2. Mt.Zion (December 26). Just because I climbed it alone. I knew the risk but I had to take it. Because ultimately, the greatest risk is not taking the risk at all.

1. Mt.Makiling (November 16). I was able to climb this mountain twice that year but the second time’s definitely the sweeter. It was a climb with a cause – a climb I’d be glad to do all over again for a cause I wish would never ever happen again.

**The #13PeaksFor2013 Project is a concept I promised to fulfill by conquering 13 mountains in one year, given a limited resources as an inexperienced hiker. 

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