While I’m writing this blog, my muscles still twinge, my spirit is still high and various pitches of screams still reverberate in my ears. When I was looking for adventure, I never thought that Mt. Batulao will give me one big hit. My emotions reached its extreme when I was at the mountain’s foot, on its highest peak, and in the in-between hurdles I encountered in the whole duration of the climb.
Mt. Batulao is about 810 meters above sea level and stretches along the town of Nasugbo, Batangas. It is known to be the destination of the first time climbers (like me). According to some mountaineers who already made it to Batulao’s summit for quite a number of times, it’s one of the easiest mountains to trek. My experience would prove the same or otherwise.
At first, I had this perception that trekking a mountain is just as easy as running, where I exert effort, excrete a lot of sweat, and experience muscle pinch after. I did not expect that it would be a total breakthrough of my longing for an adventure-filled life—whether or not to undertake another mountain quest or just be content on beach hopping and chasing new places around. Mt. Batulao is my first climb. And definitely, won’t be my last.
We arrived at Evercrest, the jump-off point to the mountain, at exactly 8:10 in the morning. The temperature was low, maybe because of Christmas season or the place is near Tagaytay. From there, we started trailing. We didn’t have trekking gears such as gloves, rope and tent which I think are essential in climbing any mountain. All we had were cameras, bottled water, and finger foods—enough to keep us going on the way. We decided to make it a day adventure unlike most campers who prefer to stay there overnight.
The mountain is engulfed by cogon grass swaying with the potent winds. It has two trails— old and new—new trail is believed to be easier and safer. Four of us were first timers, and two were experienced, so it’s better to traverse the new one. There are 9 peaks before reaching the highest peak or the mountain’s pinnacle. Among these peaks, I considered 1-6 as easy; 7-8 as average; 9 as difficult.
We can still sing while walking at the topsy-turvy trail of peaks 1-6. We can even crack jokes and at the same time, take time to relish the picturesque landscape right there at our very eyes—so bold and perfect. On trails 7-8, we started to feel the steepness of the mountain. There, the path is not only rough, but it also gets narrower as we continue our journey to make it to Mt. Batulao’s apex. Of course, we also allowed ourselves to rest in between peaks. Campsites for hikers are situated on peaks 1-7 where locals sell buko juice and soft drinks. There, you can relax, satisfy your thirst, and eat your food. That’s what we did. Our stamina and endurance needed time to recharge before heading on to the mountain’s final crest.
When we arrived at the most strenuous and challenging part of the trail, the peak 9, we all tried to answer one question—shall we proceed? When this question sink in, indomitable dilemmas strike us—that our lives were at risk once we attempted to cross the last trail. I, myself, ridiculously contemplated about dying; that one missed, I would die. I did not entertain that thought but it kept on crossing my mind. While I was thinking of proceeding or not, blurred scenarios started to occupy my mentality, like the “New Moon” movie where Bella tried cliff diving—in case I fall, body of water will catch me, or in case that happens, someone would wake me up from my nightmare. I just suddenly realized that it wasn’t a fantasy anymore but a real life scenario. I took a deep breath, conquered my anxiety and apprehension until I finally dropped the strong word, YES! Yes, let’s us proceed and go on with the trail. My fellow campers and I agreed to take an attempt of surmounting the final trail by keeping in mind that our adventure would be a disgruntled one if we fail to reach the top and if we choose to back out. It would defy the main purpose of climbing Mt. Batulao.
Peak 9 has higher slope and steeper. Left and right cliffs were ahead of us as we go along its path. We chose not to look down just to prevent ourselves from getting swayed by the heights—we were focused, determined and unfaltering. We gave all our strength and our tightest grip just to survive peak 9. When we finally reached Mt. Batulao’s utmost peak, we all screamed at the top of our lungs (I think it was my loudest scream). Panoramic view on top appeased all the tension, panic and fright that occupied our minds before heading on. Nothing compares to the satisfaction we felt after successfully arriving at the mountain’s summit. We availed the opportunity to satisfy our quest for the best scene on top and uttered alternately “Ang Ganda” (it’s beautiful) which made me think of “ DOT’s slogan “Pilipinas, Kay Ganda!”
Who would have thought we were able to make it?
Going down was easier because we knew then which parts of the mountain were more risky and challenging. We climbed Mt. Batulao for 7 and ½ hours, including our breaks and photo shoots. And to cap our one day escapade— for a job well done—Bulalo at Mahogany market in Tagaytay was a good reward.
It was the most memorable adventure I had so far. According to an adage, “first time is always memorable.” Go figure.
(Date of climb: November 27, 2010)