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Mt. Halcon

Mt. Halcon
After Mt. Guiting-guiting in Sibuyan, Romblon; this is one of the toughest mountains in my bucket list.  The whole journey while reaching its summit is unforgettable due to some issues that we encountered.  Issues that involve everything that could affect everyone of us – which unfortunately happened.  In this blog post, you’ll learn why.

Mt. Halcon got 9/9 rating in terms of its difficulty, but that rating is not enough to rate the lessons we learned in this climb.  I can say: “this mountain has a brain and intelligence as it transformed all of us into a different individual,” after the climb.

Early 4:30PM, Thursday – I left my apartment bringing my 65L (in total) backpack.  Travelling with more weight on my back wasn’t easy at all.  Imagine, I took tricycle, jeep, bus going to PNU then took a taxi going to SM San Lazaro. While in that travel, I noticed that there’s a huge question mark in the eyes of the people around me, maybe because of my appearance.

8PM when all the participants were completed, we left the mall and proceeded to a RoRo terminal nearby. Our destinations were Batangas Port then Calapan Port in Mindoro. Took a jeep going to Sir Minique’s house. Prepared everything in there and met the other participants.  Original plan was to take the Lanyutan trail but due to some issues, we took the Mayabig  Trail.

First Day - the photo above was taken at the Basketball Court around 10:26AM, Friday at the jump off of Mayabig Trail. Took our lunch there and ascended at around 11:17AM. Mayabig is a long trail covered with banana stalks and other plants cultivated by the residents (mostly mangyans.) The rain made the soil eroded and made the trail muddy.

Mangyan Tribe
That’s the Iglesiang Ebanghelika ng Aruta at the mangyan village, which served as our cafeteria during our lunch. BJ (Buko Juice) can be ordered from the mangyans for only 10 pesos. We stayed there for more than an hour, so we had more time knowing the other participants.

We again encountered another issue in our first day, so we had an emergency camp at Ayambukog Camp. Everything was prepared while the sun light was still on. Cooking while doing our socials was the best part of our trek.

Second Day - from Ayambukog, we continued trekking at around 4AM, Saturday while the grass and plants were wet. Halcon is has a virgin rainforest, so we encountered different season along the trail. Falls and rivers were always part of the trail, so no need for more water inside the backpack.

We reached the river at around 12:27PM. We were only three walking on the trail and I was the first one who reached the river. I am only hearing the sound of the river and insects while sitting by the river while waiting for Cheng and Alfie (my trail buddies.) Honestly, I was afraid that time, because I was only seeing the boulders on the river and my mind was playing a scene in “The Walking Dead,” but when I saw a trail mark, I followed it finally saw the lead group hundred meters from me and my trail buddies just arrived, so I felt relaxed.

When we met the lead group, we removed our wet clothes then put it on the boulders to make it dry. Since the lead group already waited there for more than an hour, they decided to leave us at the river while eating our lunch.

Good thing that we finished our lunch first before the rain dropped. At first, it was only droplets, but after few minutes it was changed into heavy rain. So we left the river because the water keeps becoming higher and higher and we don’t want to be stuck in there.

In just a matter of seconds, the calm water flowing on the river became wild water striking at the boulders. That time we were at the Camp 2, I mean stuck at the Camp 2 and we were waiting for the water to calm down, but it didn’t happen. 

We didn’t do anything in there, we only have some trail foods, one tent and some personal stuff inside our backpacks. Our aim that time was to proceed to Camp 3, but we all know that the trail going there wasn’t easy, because crossing the falls and rivers with security was essential. So, the best thing that we did was to have an emergency camp at the Camp 2. 

Jeff and the guide successfully crossed the river. After the short decision making, Jeff and Dennis proceeded to Camp 3 to secure the lead group, then the guide went back to Camp 1 to get food supplies for us.  Attendance: Me, Cheng, Kat, Macel, Sir Migz, Jef, Alfie, Bok and Jaypee.

Look at the photo above, that’s Sir Migz and Bok, with our backpacks on the mud. We set up one tarp as the roof, one tarp as our ground sheet, and then at the rear part was Sir Migz’s tent that looks like a ply sheet and a tarp as ground sheet.  Our dinner were the trail foods left in our backpack, that time we didn’t feel that we’re outcasts, we entertained ourselves by giving out green minded jokes and ghost stories. Mountaineers from PLDT were passing beside our site. After few hours, the guide went back bringing cooked foods and a bottle of brandy. So, the entertainment proceeded to the higher level as the alcohol continues flowing in our blood vessel. Last time check was 12 midnight before taking a rest, while the guides set their tent just beside us. That was the slowest night ever, I was waiting for the sun rise because I can’t focus on sleeping; a lot of insects were biting my legs since I was wearing shorts, plus the fact that we were all wearing wet that time. If you want to see this place in video, click here: E-Camp

Dulangan River
Third Day . . . Early in the morning, I noticed the insect bites on my gorgeous legs, huh . .  so sad! For the first time, I did the chef’s role: reheating left over, dried fish, spam and coffee completed our very own Filipino Breakfast.  While we were still talking about the best part of mountaineering happened last night, the smell of the food seemed to be an expensive perfume. 9:30AM, we left the Camp 2, crossed Dulangan River, went back to Camp 1 and met the other participants. 

Camp 1 was busy that time, some were cooking for us, and some were trying to create a plan for the lead team who were at the summit, that exact time. After eating lunch, I took a long nap so I didn’t notice that heavy rain fell.

From three visible falls that we saw at the mountain; after the rain, it transformed into countless. As the darkness spread, we were all hoping that the entire lead group are okay. While waiting for them, we had our socials: food, wine and green jokes were served. 8PM, the rest of the summiteers arrived at the camp 1, so all the participants were complete, we were just waiting for the two guides who went back to the jump off and got some supplies.

Mt. Halcon
Fourth Day – the weather was fine, the wind was blowing smoothly and our auras were good. The two guides just arrived, so we prepared our breakfast and let the guides took a rest. Since the weather was inviting, proceeding to the summit was circulating at the camp site. Some said: NO but some said: YES and I am into yes.

So, by 8AM we left the camp site and proceeded to the summit. But, before reaching the peak, we crossed more than five rivers and falls; we stepped on slippery boulders many times. Most of the time was raining, so we were all wet.  The water current at the river and falls can cause a delay, but security is still very important. We made a fast pacing, because we will be going to cook our lunch at Karawayan Camp while waiting for the rest. The wind became colder and colder, so we remove our wet clothes and replaced it with the dry one and wore jackets. After our break, we proceeded to the summit.

The trail from Karawayan to Azothea is steeper than the first part. Grip is very important in this part; the boulders, roots and the mud are slippery because of the rain. There were parts where we almost kissed the wall and walked with the cliff on our side. 5PM we reached the summit ridge at the mini forest, but the weather wasn’t inviting, so our guide decided not to push through as it can cause accident, so we went back to azothea and met the rest of the group.  The photos below were captured at the mini forest:

We stayed at the azothea for 30 minutes then we went back to Karawayan. This time, descending is much difficult than ascending especially for those with short legs, so more careful should be exerted. Our group were divided into three: first were the guide and Jefferson, second: me, Cheng, Bok, Ron and the guide we met at the Camp 2, Third: the happy team.

In our group; it’s Ron, Cheng, Me and Bok at the end, it was really dark. We kept on building our patience as we encountered everything on the trail. Our clothes were wet, our stomach were empty, our knees were both shaking but still we were all hoping to reach at least the Camp 2.

We finally reach Camp 2, we were all shocked because one guide actually was there; wearing a huge plastic bag as his jacket and embracing himself just to remove the coldness he felt. We first checked what’s inside his bag for food or tent or anything, but we only saw rice, egg and stove but without butane. As part of the plan, we waited there for the others; we tried to cross the river but it wasn’t successful because the current was strong. So, we went back to Camp 2 and after two hours of waiting, we proceeded to the small cave nearby. We successfully used wet wood for fire, prepared coffee to relieve the cold feeling, fried egg, and cooked the rice. But we still enjoyed that night by talking about different topics. 

Fifth Day - the photo above was taken before leaving the cave. As what you can see, it’s a small cave with wet ground and the water drops on our faces while we were taking a nap. It’s one of the longest nights ever. The sky became bluish black which means another day is coming. I prepared coffee for our breakfast when a flash of light just appeared. It was guide Celso bringing a backpack with food. So, we got few amount, took breakfast and then Celso proceeded to the other who did their emergency camp somewhere. After breakfast, we also crossed the river and finally reached the Camp 1 and met Jeff. The first batch of summiteers already left the camp and descended the mountain. So, we first prepared our lunch then took a rest.

When I woke up the rest of the e-campers were already at the camp 1, so we were all grateful that we surpassed everything on the trail. Took an hour rest then did break camp while the rain was falling. Our backpack’s original weight was times three because of the wet clothes and tent. 

What we’ve experience during our second day was doubled because of the heavy rain and muddy trail. Limatiks were at fiesta that time as it stuck on our skin and sucking our blood. Attendance: Bok, Cheng, Me and Ron.

We thought that as we became going nearer to the jump off, everything will be simple, but that was just a dream. The trail became difficult to descend because of the mud. We have no choice but to go back to our younger age and slide on the trail. We fell several times, but we didn’t count on the number we fell, but we count on how many times we stood up and proceeded to our destination.

We reached the jump off at around 8PM, we put of backpack on the side of the store, ordered Mountain Drew, barbeque, bananaque and many more.  That was the best part of mountaineering, after the hard works, time for a great relaxation.  But due to another issue, the rest of the group had an emergency camp at the mangyan village. Good thing that the mangyan were kind and they let our friends took a rest in their home. The rest of us ate a lot of dinner . . . sorry, it’s dinnerssss . . . changed outfit and went to Sir Dominique’s house and took a rest.

Sixth Day – after 3 hours sleep, we woke up and I easily felt my muscles aching. Sir Zeus and Bok bought foods for our breakfast and while they were at the market, since the sun was getting hot, we let our wet clothes dried on the ground. After breakfast, it’s EmpeLight time for few hours. But, we were still praying that our friends are fine descending the mountain. Unfortunately, one of the participants was brought to the Hospital so his colleagues proceeded to Sir Dominique’s house.  Of course, we provided them everything they needed. By 9PM, we visited him and we stayed at the hospital until 1AM. 

Seventh Day – by 2AM we left Calapan Port. We were all sleeping the whole travel period. We didn’t care if our mouths were open while sleeping; we didn’t care if insects were coming into our mouths while sleeping. What’s important that time was to take a rest at least few hours to gain strength. To make my story short, we reached our home safely.  Our friend who was hospitalized is already fine, but as per hospital records: EVERYTHING WAS FINE, BUT THE PATIENT WASN’T OKAY AT ALL! So, I think its GODS GRACE why he survived.

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