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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trek to Mt. Romelo: Hitting 2 Birds with 1 Stone

I dislike trekking simply because I hate long walks.  Even with someone special walking hand in hand, I don't like that.  It's not that I get tired easily (well a bit) but I just feel lazy walking and walking.  Unless I'm in a department store browsing at the clothes, shoes and bags section.  I won't complain.

I've done a few trekking years and years ago.  The last one I went to was going to Taal Volcano.  I recall I wasn't prepare with that trek as I was wearing a shoulder bag then.  I thought it was a simple company outing.  I don't even have a towel to wipe my perspirations.

 Maybe you wonder what made me change my mind to go on a trekking adventure this time?  Well, I just wanted to experience a different kind of adventure (I think I consider myself adventurous in soooo many ways! haha!).  Besides, I've been to quite a lot of beaches in the Philippines and I wanted to try a different "relaxation" for summer.  I posted in my FB account last January that I will try trekking this year.  And so when my friend invited me to go trekking to Mt. Romelo, I didn't hesitate to join them.

Mt. Romelo is situated in Siniloan, Laguna.  It is considered as an easy trek ideal for neophyte mountaineers.  I don't consider myself as a mountaineer but this trek is good for beginners.  It is rated 2 out of 9 in terms of level of difficulty with a trail class of 1.  Trekking to Mt. Romelo will only take you 2-3 hours to reach the top or campsite.  What's amazing with this climb is that you get to see various waterfalls once you've reached the campsite.  There are about 4 waterfalls namely: Buruwisan, Batya-Batya, Lansones and Sampaloc.  So that's hitting 2 birds with 1 stone! Experience of trekking and viewing the wonderful waterfalls.

We rode a van (without aircon) in Nagtahan area on the way to Famy, Laguna.  The route is somewhere in Antipolo.  It took us about 2 to 2 and a half hours to get to Famy vicinity.  It was a rainy morning when we arrive at Barangay Macatad, the jump off point, at about 4am. It was too dark.  I have this slight fear in the thought of trekking on a very dark surrounding.  And so after registration, we rested for a while and wait for a little light to shine before we resume the walk.  At about past 5am, with flashlights and head lamps, we begin the trek.  The rain didn't stop but it's not that strong.  With this, the trails become muddy.  It gets harder and harder to climb steep trails as muds stick to my slippers and it gets heavy.  Yes, I'm only wearing slippers.  I didn't expect it to be rainy that day.  And since they say that it's an easy climb, slippers will do.  There were even times that I really can't move up as I am slipping downwards even with my bare feet.  Good thing our companions helped us on those steep trails.  We didn't have guides as two of our companions have been to Mt. Romelo many times and they're experienced mountaineers.  After 3 hours, we reached the top and the campsite.  Because of this muddy experience, I told myself I will never go on trekking again.  We were all soak in wet and dirty with mud.  And of course, we were tired!  Without even washing up thoroughly, some of us rested and took some sleep in the available cottage.  We let the experienced mountaineers cook and prepare our breakfast, haha!

Buruwisan Falls

Buruwisan Falls side view
It was still cloudy and with scattered rains when we decided to go to Buruwisan Falls in the afternoon.  I thought it will just be an easy trail going there but I was wrong.  You need to go down and hold on to the branches of the trees just to reach the beauty of Buruwisan Falls.  It was very steep and it is almost like a 10-floor building high!  With the rain still pouring, it can get pretty hard to climb down as you might slip through some muds and stones.  But still we survived!  Reaching the bottom and witnesing the Buruwisan Falls was amazing!  I fell in love with it.  All that hard work in going down paid off.  It was simply lovely.  I know the water from the falls can get too cold but by the time we swim, we no longer felt the coldness as we were already wet again from the rain.

trail going to/fro Buruwisan Falls
When nightfall came, it really is too dark, even with lots of stars in sight.  I even got nervous going to the restroom even with a companion.  Of course when one is inside the restroom, you have to wait for him/her outside.  That got me the creeps.  I was never looking at my back but you will have that feeling that someone is looking at you.  My other friends also experience that too.  But good thing, none of us experienced any unusual phenomenon.

Batya-Batya Falls

Other side of Batya-Batya Falls

this is the stream to cross
here they are crossing the stream
We visit the Batya-Batya Falls the next day at noon time.  The sun is already up and there's no sign of rain from falling.  I'm hoping the sun will dry up the muds once we go back to the jump off point.  Anyway, going to Batya-Batya Falls is another adventure.  This time, you need to cross the stream just to reach it.  They say it was almost eye level deep.  So we carefully hold on to the rocks alongside the stream.  It can be slippery so you really have to be careful most especially if you don't know how to swim (just like me).  Reaching Batya-Batya Falls is another spectacular view.  It may not be as lovely as Buruwisan but it is still amazing.  There were people on top of the falls as they say there's another falls on the other side that is part of the Batya-Batya Falls.  Some of us went over there to witness it.  I just let one of them take a picture of it.  It is quite difficult to reach the top of the falls and go to the other side as the waters from this falls gets too deep in the middle (people can dive into it).  You also need to climb the rocks with water streaming from it which can get slippery.  If you're a swimmer then I guess you can do this.  Anyway, at least I have pictures of both falls.  Just like any other falls, the water is so cold!  This time I feel my body shaking from the coldness of the water.  The sun is up but the area is quite secluded with a little sun rays hitting on it.  I didn't bother to swim as I'm afraid to reach the sudden steep of the waters.  So what else we did, photo op of course!

It was almost 2pm when we went back to campsite.  Some of us had late lunch while others prepare to pack up.  We're targetting 3pm to start trekking back so we could be at the mainland by around 5pm.  Without taking a bath (banlaw lang), we're all set and ready to go down the mountain.  I'm pretty sure it would be easy and I'm hoping there will be no muds on the trails.  After just about 2 hours and a half, we were able to reach the mainland.  The trail was easy.  Muds were already dried up.  With the sun up, it can get really hot but the view from the top is wonderful.  I ate back what I've said earlier.  I will try trekking again.  It was a fun, challenging and great adventure.  Maybe even if it will be muddy the next time, I'll be more prepared and choose the right shoes/gear.    

going down... it's sunny already!

this is where we slept
grilled hotdog with marshmallow

this is for breakfast

Overall, I spent about Php 1,000 for this overnight trip.  Here's the breakdown:
Food - Php 500 (prepared by our mountaineers)
Van - Php 1,300 (divide by 7 = 186 each)
Entrance - Php 50
Coffee - Php 10
Horse - Php 300 (to carry the girls' stuff, divide by 4 = 75)
Cottage - Php 250 (divide by 4 = 62.5)
Van - Php 1,700 (divide by 9 = 189 each)

Until the next trek!


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