I’ve been very busy these past few weeks, and I guess the sporadic blog posts that I have managed to squeeze in my full schedule prove just that. What have I been up to apart from long hours at work? My weekends have been devoted to marathons, out of town trips, and my newfound love, mountain climbing! My third mountain and second major climb since my love affair with mountains started last April – Mt. Natib in Orani, Bataan. Mountain specs from PinoyMountaineer: Mt. Natib – 1,287 masl Major jumpoff: Brgy. Tala, Orani Minor jumpoff: Kanawan (Hanging Bridge), Morong LLA: 14.7119 N; 120.3997 E; 1287 MASL Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 3.5-5 hours Specs (Backtrail): Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail class 1-3 Specs (Traverse): Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 1-3 Features: Scenic views of Central Luzon; Woodlands; Tropical forests My Basekamp group did a backtrail climb of Mt. Natib on the second week of June. Despite the weather forecast, we decided to brave the rains and face the limatiks that Mt. Natib is known for. Armed with bottles of alcohol and covered from head to toe, we started the ascent from the jumpoff point in Brgy. Tala. There is a carinderia there where we left our car and where we filled our tummies with breakfast before the climb began. After about an hour of trekking on a wide, rocky path, we reached Pinagbutasan (there is a gate that would help you identify this area). The wind was blowing fiercely, but we enjoyed a few minutes of rest while taking in the view around us. This part of the mountain signals the start of open grasslands, wide rocky trails, and tree-covered paths, alternately making an appearance. Overall, it was a comfortable trek, and because it was drizzling after every 30 minutes or so, we didn’t feel too tired and thirsty. In fact, we were laughing while hiking every time one of us gets attacked by limatiks.
Two and half hours later, we reached the base camp and a bifurcated road, one of which leads to the summit, the other one to Pasukulan Falls. The rain started falling relentlessly, so we had to cover our backpacks before leaving them at the base camp. Assault to the summit began. Though the trail was easier compared to Tarak Ridge, there are three rope segments that proved to be the main highlight of the trek to the peak. The rocks were a bit slippery as the rain intensified, and the limatiks were all over place, causing one of our companions to panic and scream when she sees a limatik clinging on to her pants or her arms. I would see a few of these creatures looking for an opening in my shoes but I didn’t mind them; I was focused on the slippery and muddy parts of the path. My dad was attacked by one, as the persistent creature was able to wiggle its way through my dad’s gloves (he didn’t notice the small openings in them).
We reached the peak after about two and a half hours, around 1pm. There was no clearing and the wind was still blowing wildly. It was still raining but that didn’t dampen our spirits. Thank God for raincoats and windbreakers, we still had a good time on the summit.
We stayed on the summit for about 30 minutes, and every so often the clouds would part to give us a sneak peek of the supposedly beautiful view behind them. We were granted a few seconds of clearing but the clouds quickly obscured the mountains and a part of Bataan that we expected to see had the weather cooperated. We decided to commence the descent because our tummies were grumbling already. It was way past lunchtime and we had a couple of hours to spend going down. A side trip to Pasukulan Falls was part of the itinerary, but as we reached the base camp all soaking wet and with our knees trembling (out of hunger and exhaustion), we agreed to proceed to Ka Goryo’s hut and set up camp there instead. This was a good idea, I guess, for the only water source apart from Pasukulan was the river near the hut. In addition, the weather forecast said that it will rain until Sunday afternoon; we didn’t want to risk staying near Pasukulan where limatiks would definitely abound. We were about 15 minutes away from Ka Goryo’s hut when something spooky happened to me. I was walking with my dad, when two of our group mates slowed down and fell behind because of leg cramps. My dad stopped to assist them, and he instructed me to walk with my brother and proceed to the hut. My brother and another companion was about four meters ahead, and I started walking towards them. But in the blink of an eye, I lost them. I called out my brother’s name and clapped three times, but he didn’t respond. It felt weird because I walk pretty fast all the time, and I began to wonder how they could walk that fast when one of them was wearing a pair of rubber slippers. I continued to walk, and my mind was racing – I was alone, with just trail food in my belt bag, only five liters of water in my backpack, a sleeping bag, a flashlight, a knife. Then I remembered, I have a whistle! I started blowing, calmly at first, then frantically and loudly as I didn’t hear a response. I didn’t think at this time that I could possibly be experiencing something “supernatural,” but I was more concerned that I got lost. I started running-walking-running, whistling in between. It was utterly impossible for me not to be heard because there was no sound apart from the gentle drizzle of rain. I kept checking my watch to see how long I’ve been alone, and I was cautiously peering at my surroundings to note if I was going in circles. This went on for about 30 minutes, and I almost decided to walk back to my dad and our companions who were left behind. When I was about to turn back, lo and behold, my brother and our group mate were there a few meters in front of me. All I managed to say was – Hindi mo ba ako naririnig? Kanina pa ako sumisipol! He said he didn’t hear a single manmade whistling sound because there were a lot of birds chirping and singing about. Shit. I didn’t hear a single effing bird. This weird incident was forgotten as we instructed our guide to go back and help my dad and other companions. We reached Ka Goryo’s hut (and my dad and other group mates got to the hut after ten minutes, kinda weird) pitched our tents, and ate super late lunch.
That night, we had our usual socials and at 11pm we decided to call it a day. That was after securing our food – there were big ass rats lurking around the hut and our tents.
The next day was more relaxing, and the dark clouds were slowly replaced with white, fluffy ones. We had breakfast and lunch and continued teasing each other and joking around, most of the jokes about limatiks.
We headed back to the jump off point at around 12pm and reached it a little after 1pm. We made a side trip to a river about ten minutes from the jump off (and took a bath there as well). The carinderia serves delish Batangas goto and Lomi, and despite the simplicity of the food, we managed to celebrate Father’s Day together that day.
I consider my Mt. Natib adventure the most entertaining (albeit scariest due to that incident) climb among the three I have done this year. The limatik attacks, the rat who stole some bread from our companions’ tent, the socials, and the wacky photos – they all compensated for the trek under the rain. This climb also tested my patience and tolerance, as it was my first time to climb while drenched in the rain. And yes, I was able to tolerate those wiggly, blood sucking creatures without screaming and getting a panic attack. Just a few tips if you are planning on climbing Mt. Natib – the most important would be to make sure that you are well-covered. I was wearing stockings underneath my leggings, and I used my 3M utility gloves. Be ready with a bottle of alcohol to spray on the limatik in case you find one sucking your blood. Never ever pull them off of your skin. They will fall off once you spray alcohol on them. Hope to bump into you in my next mountain climbing adventure! 🙂